As compared to the Times' propaganda: Should the New York Times adopt a new motto? Should its old motto give way to this:
All the news which fits the script?
So it might seem if we consider the way the Times has treated the recent "college admissions scandal."
As we've noted, this scandal is very limited in scope. The behavior involved has been egregious, but very few people seem to have been involved.
Yesterday, Kevin Drum complained about "the unbelievable amount of attention paid to a tiny little college admissions scandal." He then tried to quantify the extent of the scam. This is what he came up with:
DRUM (3/18/19): We still don’t know how many people were involved, but it appears to be something like 0.01 percent of the entering freshman class of America’s most elite universities. This is a rounding error, and it’s for a scandal that only affects about 5 or 6 percent of American families in the first place. What’s more, it’s just standard issue cheating, not even a symptom of some new or systemic problem. It deserved a few column inches on A7, not flood-the-zone coverage everywhere we looked.As best anyone knows at this time, this heinous behavior has involved a very small number of college admissions. The blanket coverage at the Times is a sign of gruesome journalistic judgment in service to upper-class values, in which admission to Stanford or Yale is the only event which actually counts.
The Times has grossly over-covered this severely limited matter. It has also taken the opportunity to grossly mislead its readers in service to a preferred narrative. Once again, let's consider what Jennine Capó Crucet has said.
Crucet wrote an essay for the Times about admission procedures at Cornell. Her piece appeared in this weekend's Sunday Review section. At one point, she said this:
CRUCET (3/17/19): [W]hile working at a nonprofit as a college access counselor to low-income first-generation college students like me, I made sure to tell them about legacy and development admissions...I wanted my students to know what they were up against, and I also wanted them to realize how much more they belonged on whatever campus was lucky enough to snag them than the students who’d essentially bought their way in.According to Crucet, the college admission process "is designed to let as few [students of color] in as it can." Given the overall thrust of her essay, she was presumably talking about admissions to "elite," upper-end colleges.
I reminded my students that a college degree is one of the fastest ways to break the cycle of poverty in a family. And that’s exactly why the college admissions process—with its overreliance on scores from tests that are widely regarded as biased against low-income students, students of color and students from single-parent households—is designed to let as few of us in as it can: Why invest in us when there could be a bigger payoff, in future donations, for that same spot?
Since Crucet's essay involved the miseries involved in attending Cornell, we decided to take a look at Cornell's enrollment data.
Has Cornell been trying to admit as few students of color as possible? That's the impression the Times conveyed when it published Crucet's piece. But according to NCES data, undergraduate enrollment at Cornell currently looks like this:
Undergraduate enrollment, CornellThose are the official NCES data. We'll summarize them like this:
White students: 38%
Black students: 7%
Hispanic/Latino students: 13%
Asian-American students: 19%
Two or more races: 5%
Race/ethnicity unknown: 8%
Foreign students: 11%
According to the NCES, 38% of undergraduates at Cornell are white American kids. Some 39% are American "students of color," with an additional 5% listed as biracial American kids.
You'll note that foreign students are treated as a separate category in the NCES statistics. No attempt is made to report their race or ethnicity. An additional 8% of undergraduates seem to be American students for whom race/ethnicity is unknown.
That said, does it look to you like Crucet's alma mater is doing everything it can to eliminate "students of color?" We think the Times committed one of its many grievous offenses when it put Crucet's essay in print, in a very high-profile section no less.
That said, Crucet's endless bellyaching did advance a favored narrative, in which it's still 1955 and no one but whites need apply. Crucet's irate assertions very much fit this treasured script. Again and again, this is the way the New York Times seems to report educational issues, whether in the public schools or in the nation's colleges.
Tomorrow, we'll show you comparable data for the colleges involved in the current limited matter. We'll also show you basic data for all eight Ivy League schools.
The basic facts are hard to square with the propaganda the Times has been selling. At this point, does this ridiculous upper-class newspaper ever do anything right? Does the Times consult basic data at all? Or is it script all the way down?
Tomorrow: Stanford and Harvard and Yale oh my! If you read the Times, you might be surprised, perhaps even pleased, by the actual data.