Part 1—"Cherry picking" practiced, decried: The New York Times doesn't like screening, a practice it also describes as "tracking" and "cherry picking."
More specifically, the New York Times doesn't like the amount of screening (or tracking) which is permitted by the New York City Public Schools as part of the school admission procedure.
The New York Times thinks too many of the city's schools are permitted to "screen" incoming students on the basis of academic achievement. And who knows? In that ardent if cloaked belief, the paper may even be right!
Does New York City permit too many high schools to "screen" incoming ninth-graders? That question is hard to answer, but the New York Times thinks it does.
How do we know what the New York Times thinks? The paper didn't publish an editorial in which this view was stated.
Instead, the Times published a comically slanted "news report" on yesterday's front page. The report appeared under this hard-copy headline:
Schools Cherry Pick, Leaving Minorities BehindAlready, the editorial view seems abundantly clear. But we knew the famous newspaper thinks the screening is out of hand when we reached the comical passage shown below.
The passage appears fairly late in the report by Hu and Harris. The reporters are discussing the procedures by which New York City kids gain admission to many high schools and middle schools:
HU AND HARRIS (6/18/18): The process at every level can be grueling for children and their families. “I don’t think anyone who’s gone through the high school application process thinks it’s anything but legalized child abuse,” said Clara Hemphill, the editor of the popular school guide InsideSchools, a project of The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs. “I think it would be a healthier system if we poured resources into neighborhood schools to make them stronger.”Sometimes you just have to laugh.
Having said that, we're willing to take a wild guess! We'll guess there's someone in New York who thinks the application procedure is something other than "legalized child abuse!"
In effect, the scribes cherry-picked that eye-catching description from a wider range of possible views. Before the week is done, we'll also ask you to consider the second part of Hemphill's statement, in which she alludes to all the "resources" New York City could allegedly "pour into" neighborhood schools. Problem magically solved!
Hu and Harris cherry-picked that evocative statement about the child abuse. That said, such cherry-picking is on display all through yesterday's "news report," in which elbows, thumbs and even asp cheeks are constantly placed on the scales, leading to a front-page headline in which the New York Times describes the city's current admission procedures as a form of "cherry picking" which "leaves minorities behind."
Every button is being pushed in that heavily slanted headline. For the record, the argumentative term "cherry picking" isn't taken directly from Hu and Harris themselves. It's taken from another cherry-picked statement—a statement by one of the New York City parents Hu and Harris chose to quote.
(They chose to quote exactly two such parents, out of a possible roughly two million. How did they choose those particular parents? Only their editor knows!)
Does New York City permit too much admission "screening" on the middle and high school level? Certainly, that's possible, though it's also a matter of judgment.
What's abundantly clear is the fact that the Times adopted that stance yesterday through the medium of a front-page news report. Basically, every standard button was pushed as the paper tried to persuade its gullible readers to adopt its own high-minded view.
This was terrible news reporting—and it appeared on the front page of our most important newspaper. On the upside, this slanted report can help us see why conservatives will sometimes say, not entirely without reason, that they feel they can't believe a thing they read in the New York Times.
Does New York City permit too much "screening"—Hu and Harris also refer to the practice as "tracking"—in the school admission process? Like everything else, that's possible! We'll ponder the question all week.
That said, Hu and Harris went to heroic lengths to avoid confronting the obvious reasons for "tracking," whether done within a school or in the admission process.
Why would public schools in New York City engage in screening or tracking, even in "cherry picking" or "picking and choosing?" Also, why does screening or tracking tend to "leave [certain] minorities behind?"
Duh! It's because of the size of some of the gaps—the extremely large achievement gaps the New York Times refuses to tell you about. We've published these data again and again. They aren't allowed in the Times:
Average scores, Grade 8 math, NaepUnless there's something wrong with the Naep, extremely large achievement gaps are defined by those punishing numbers—and virtually everyone agrees that the Naep provides our most reliable educational data.
New York City Public Schools, 2017
White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03
If anything, the gaps confronted by Gotham's schools are even larger than those data may suggest, as we'll show you (again) with other Naep data this week. Prepare to run screaming from the room when we show you percentiles again!
At any rate, the New York Times refuses to report or discuss the basic data we've shown you again and again. Yesterday, the paper also refused to run the awkward headline it could have run instead of the propagandistic headline which graced the paper's front page.
In so doing, Hu and Harris, and their editors, walked away from the black and Hispanic kids who sit on the short end of those enormous gaps. This continues a fifty-year process in which we liberals pretend to care about those kids, while consigning them to the "second-class citizenship" reflected in those Naep scores.
Who's committing the "child abuse" now? We'll ponder the question all week.
Tomorrow: Classic slanted "reporting"
The data which mustn't appear: For all Naep data, just click here. From there, you're on your own.