Part 3—Wants to kick Asian kids out: This Monday morning, the New York Times published a full-page editorial about the New York City Public Schools.
Two days later, the editorial still doesn't appear in the "Today's Paper" listings for Monday's New York Times. A person who scanned Monday's newspaper through the listings on that page had no way—still has no way—to know that the full-page editorial ever appeared.
Two days later, the full-page editorial still doesn't appear. Two days later, no one seems to have noticed this—or it may be that nobody cares. But so it tends to go at the Times, our most foppish, least competent, most insouciant upper-class pseudolib newspaper.
There's much to learn from Monday's editorial. That said, it mainly instructs us about the mental and moral horizons of the Times board itself.
Who sits on the Times editorial board? On March 1, the Times published this apparent list, naming eleven members. Since that time, it seems that Michelle Cottle has been added to the board.
Assuming no one has left the board, that would bring the number to twelve. And how odd! Despite the board's deep interest in "desegregation," those twelve (apparent) members would be socially defined as follows:
Demographics of the Times editorial board:That's the (apparent) makeup of the gang that wants to get rid of the Asian kids, but only in New York City's "best schools."
Nine whites; two blacks; one Asian-American
You'd think it would be fairly easy to learn who sits on this board. In fact, the Times approaches this matter in a chaotic way, as is generally the case within this very odd newspaper. That said:
As best we can tell from the March 1 board member bios, none of those eleven members has a journalistic background in public school or education reporting, and neither does Cottle. Only one of the eleven members listed education as one of his points of focus, and he listed two others points of focus. Among the five who listed points of specialization, this is what they presented:
Points of focus of board members:People, we're just saying!
Business, International Economics
New York State and Local Affairs
Education, Criminal Justice, Economics
On Monday morning, the editorial by this highly moral group started as shown below. This was the editors' opening paragraph. Warning! Embarrassment follows:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (6/25/18): Across the country, local efforts are at last underway to integrate schools that remain profoundly segregated more than half a century after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Nowhere is that work more important than New York City, where the school system is not only the nation’s largest but also its most segregated.Really? The New York City Public Schools is the nation's "most segregated school system?"
Well actually, no! Prepared for something quite typical.
The editorial provides a link, in that opening paragraph, to a well-known report by UCLA's Kucsera and Orfield. The report, which appeared in March 2014, carried this well-known title:
New York State’s Extreme School SegregationLet's be sure to note that one key word, because the editors missed it.
Long story short. The March 2014 report explicitly says that New York State "has the most segregated schools in the country" among the fifty states. Kucsera and Orfield dropped that bomb on the schools of New York State, not of New York City.
You may be surprised to read that claim, which is made about New York State, not about New York City. Within the realm of popular journalism, the claim was treated as surprising in real time. This was the general take:
New York State has the most segregated schools, not Mississippi or Alabama!
To some extent, the claim about New York State turns on the exotic definitions of "segregation" which have come to dominate academic treatment of the subject. But the claim was made about New York State, not about New York City.
Four years later, the Times' reliable Keystone Cops came along and wrote that first paragraph. It was part of a deeply concerned, full-page editorial which they somehow failed to get posted online.
They opened their piece with an obvious error, as is the way at the Times. Then, the piece didn't get posted. Meanwhile, the board seems to be composed of twelve members, nine of them white, though it's amazingly hard to find out.
(Go ahead! Give it a try.)
So things go at the Times. With respect to the error about New York State, such errors are rather typical of New York Times public schools work. Consider this passage from Winnie Hu's recent report on the plan to "desegregate" the middle schools of District 3, one of the city school system's 32 community school districts:
HU (6/6/18): The plan that was selected will set aside 25 percent of the seats at middle schools for students who qualify for free and reduced lunches, a widely accepted measure of poverty, and who are considered low performing based on their final fourth-grade English and math course grades and their scores on state English and math tests.We'll return to the District 3 plan in the next two days, focusing on the parts of the plan which almost make it sound like an Onion parody. But please note:
However "widely accepted" errors may be within the realm of the upper-end press corps, eligibility for the federal free and reduced price lunch program (FRPL) is not a "measure of poverty." This fact is known to the New York Times, though possibly not to Hu or her editors.
Many kids who receive free lunch are indeed living in families whose incomes place them below the federal poverty level. But eligibility for the program extends well beyond that income level.
Technically, a student is eligible if his family income is less than 185 percent of the poverty level. In practice, family incomes within the program almost surely extend above that, to double the poverty level or beyond.
Everybody knows these facts—except education reporters and editors at the New York Times. In fairness to Hu, she isn't an education specialist. Her feckless employer is too uncaring, too insouciant, to bother with the tiresome chore of hiring or developing such journalists.
Does Hu's error make any actual difference? Does it make a difference when the editors conflate a (well-known) claim about New York State with a claim about New York City?
Does it make a difference when the editors compose a fiery, full-page editorial, then somehow fail to get it posted in its normal location, where readers might actually see it? Does it matter when the editors rail about "profound segregation" in public schools while maintaining a membership which, by their own overwrought definition, qualifies for that same designation?
Do these things make any difference? Only if you think that elementary competence matters.
Plainly, it makes a difference when the board composes an editorial of the type it presented this week—a mindless, sometimes ugly piece which is mainly distinguished by its puzzling detachment from the events it claims to discuss.
What's odd about the board's "hidden editorial?" Ahead of anything else, we would point to this:
The editors seem to believe that many kids in the New York City Public Schools would benefit from the high-powered academic programs taught at the city's eight "specialized high schools."
Indeed, the editors say, early on in their piece, that admission procedures to these schools have been "leaving untold numbers of New York’s brightest children behind." The editors seem to believe that Gotham is full of kids who are just as bright at the lucky duckies who get admitted to those high-powered schools under current procedures.
If that's true, that's extremely good news. Trust us, though—none of those editors have any idea whether their statement is accurate.
How many additional kids would benefit from the high-powered programs taught in those high-powered schools? The editors seem to suggest that the number is large—but then, they career off the rails.
How weird! Rather than suggest a way to open additional high-powered programs to help serve all these capable students, the editors restrict their gaze to those eight "best schools." Instead of suggesting that New York City open additional high-powered programs and schools, they start looking for ways to replace the Asian kids in those schools with kids who are black and Hispanic.
In this benighted move, they follow Mayor de Blasio, who seems to be looking for a way to start an exciting new race war. To all intents and purposes, he wants to retain the current number of high-powered admission slots while changing the identities of the kids the city squeezes into them.
Most simply put, he wants to get rid of the Asian kids and bring in black and Hispanic kids. He wants to keep the number of high-powered while changing who gets to sit in them.
This ridiculous war of the all against all isn't the fault of New York City's students. It reflects the puzzling judgment of Gotham's mayor—and of the New York Times, high-minded editorial board.
In Monday's editorial, the editors go to heroic lengths to justify the ugly, divisive proposal de Blasio has made. Simply put, the editors are too dumb, and too detached, to point the way to the better solution:
If that many kids are really that capable, New York City needs to create more high-powered programs and schools!
How many black and Hispanic kids would do well at Stuyvesant High? We don't have the slightest idea. Neither do the editors.
That said, if a lot of such kids exist, that is excellent news! Decent people would look for ways to include and challenge such kids without denying seats at the table to the Asian-American kids.
The giants of the editorial board avoided such obvious thoughts. They want to keep those eight "best schools," and they want to squeeze certain kids out.
Trust us. The editors have no earthly idea what they're talking about. They signal their incompetence and their detatchment right in that opening paragraph.
They signaled their mindlessness in the headline they placed on their piece. They pretended that they're "integrating" schools, but that only "the best schools" need apply.
Politicians sometimes behave in these ways. So does this hapless Times board.
Tomorrow: What isn't "segregation" today? Also, that District 3 plan!
Concerning New York State: Does New York State "have the most segregated schools in the country" as compared to the other 49 states?
For our money, Kucsera and Orfield traffic in some exotic definitions of "segregation." We think this practice tends to spread a lot more heat than light.
That said, to see their claim, you can just click here. Scroll to the Executive Summary on page vi. Read the first paragraph.
In real time, journalists understood what the professors had said about New York State. Four years later, the editorial board doesn't. That's how it goes at the Times.