Look who's "The Other" now! We have no doubt that Mara Gay is a thoroughly good, decent person.
We say that as a way of noting how potent the cult of the tribal story can be.
As best we can tell, the New York Times has never much bothered, in recent years, to put an education specialist on its editorial board. Though the Times is slipshod in its attempts to identify its board, this seems to be the current line-up.
No education specialist is there—and yes, that includes Brent Staples.
Based on appearances, the New York Times doesn't care a great deal about public school education. Perhaps for that reason, Gay has been stuck with the unenviable task of representing the views of the board in recent in the wake of the annual meltdown concerning enrollments at Gotham's eight "specialized high schools."
Last week, this meant that Gay was required to spend nineteen minutes discussing the operation of these high-powered, academic high schools with Slate's Mary Harris. We're sure that Harris is a good person too—though she doesn't seem to be an education specialist either.
Beyond all that, alas! Harris, like Gay, seems to hail from a part of the world in which journalists care about the "talented one or two percent" and about nobody else. This led to a soporific, 19-minute discussion which was an insult to the intelligence of the American people, and represents the wholesale abandonment of the lives and interests of black kids.
To all appearances, New York City is full of black kids who are, academically speaking, in a world of hurt. Here's the way Gotham's eighth graders performed in the most recent administration of the Naep, the widely-praised "gold standard" of domestic educational testing:
Average scores, Grade 8 mathAccording to standard rules of thumb, the "achievement gaps" defined by those numbers are extremely large. Many black kids are in a world of hurt if we accept this notion.
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep
Asian-American students: 306.03
White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
With that, along came Harris and Gay to pretend that this state of affairs pretty much doesn't exist.
The Naep may be called "America's report card," but its content isn't specifically geared to the specific content of New York State's math curriculum. Neither is the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT), the demanding test which is given each year to determine who gains admission to those "specialized high schools."
Because the SHSAT isn't geared to New York State's specific curriculum, Gay aimed a snide remark its way during her talk with Harris. Remember—at the New York Times, the motto concerning the city's giant achievement gaps seems to go something like this:
No Excuse Left Behind!People like Gay search high and low for ways to deny what seems to be right there before us. It must be "test prep" which is producing those gaps, or it must be test bias! We mustn't admit that punishing, brutal achievement gaps can possibly be real.
Gay delivered a snide remark at the expense of the SHSAT. Because it isn't specifically geared to the curriculum allegedly taught in New York City schools, it's one more part of the "unfair system" which is keeping Gotham's black kids out of Stuyvesant High.
Unfortunately, Gotham's Asian-American kids are the highest performers on New York State's annual statewide testing too. Here's the way the city's demographic groups performed on last year's official New York State math exam (we don't have a figure for Hispanic students):
Percentage achieving proficiency, annual New York State math examNo matter what kind of test is given, Asian-American kids tend to outperform other groups. This is true on a nationwide basis, and it's true in New York City—unless you get your ideas from the New York Times, in which case those passing rates and average scores all seem to be part of a "fake news" campaign rendered by The Deep State.
Grade 8, New York City Public Schools, 2018
Asian-American students: 72%
White students: 64%
Black students: 25%
In her nineteen minutes with Harris, Gay offered every excuse in the book, suggesting that those apparent achievement gaps are all just a big huge mistake--a misconception, an illusion.
In particular, it must be "test prep," the young board member declared again and again. Also, the SHSAT isn't specifically geared to New York's statewide curriculum!
Gay was ready to recite every excuse in the book. That said, the most remarkable thing she said concerned the relative merits of the city's black and Asian students.
For the record, each of these demographic groups is full of good, decent kids. That said, Gay went above and beyond the call of duty when she voiced the ridiculous claims we transcribed for last Friday's report.
Good lord! According to Gay, the group which racked up that blockbuster average score on the Grade 8 Naep has been sending kids to Stuyvesant who are just taking up space! It's the group which recorded that lowest average score whose kids will find the cure for cancer if we just give them the chance.
Asian-American parents are kids are relentlessly insulted in these inane culture wars about who should get admitted to Gotham's most "elite" public schools. Surely, though, no one has ever gone as far as Gay, a good decent person, went in her chat at Slate that day, with no objection from Harris:
GAY (3/26/19): At the end of the day, what do we want our specialized high schools, or any of our high schools, to do?It's hard to believe, but that's what Gay actually said.
Do we want them to find the kids who are best at taking this exam? Or do we want them to find the most enthusiastic, accomplished, passionate learners around the city?
I guess I'm somebody who believe that there are kids in every single classroom in this city who have high potential.
What I can't stop thinking about is, How many black and Hispanic kids are sitting somewhere in a middle school in East New York or in the South Bronx right now who have great grades, who come to school and are going to—you know, they could cure cancer!
And how many of them are going to be languishing in schools that are not going to get them there, because we are insisting on defending the indefensible?
The Asian kids who entered Stuyvesant because they racked up the highest test scores? According to Gay, those high-performers can be dismissed as "the kids who are best at taking this exam."
According to Gay, it's the city's black and Hispanic kids who are "the most accomplished, passionate learners!" The Asian kids are unthinking drones. The black kids will save the world, if we just empty out Stuyvesant High and let them take more of the seats!
Truly, that was a comically overwrought statement by Gay. To get an idea of what we're talking about, let's remember how many kids in each group scored at the highest level on the most recent Grade 8 Naep:
Percentage scoring at Advanced level, Grade 8 mathTwenty-seven percent of New York City's Asian eighth-graders scored at the highest level on that most recent Naep test. Fewer than one percent of their black counterparts did—but it's the kids in the latter groups who will find the cure for cancer unless we keep holding them back!
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep
Asian-American students: 27.3%
White students: 13.2%
Black students: 0.9%
Hispanic students: 2.1%
Tomorrow, we'll run through other ways Gay disrespected the Asian-American kids who have produced those high scores. For today, we'll ask you to do one thing:
We'll ask you to imagine how a presentation like that must look to New York City's Asian-American parents and kids.
Those kids destroy all other groups in their performance on a wide range of tests. They even outperform the children of Finland, the super-kids our scripted propagandists and hacks have spent the past two decades robotically admiring.
Those Asian-American kids perform on the highest levels. But when the New York Times sends Gay out to speak, they're treated like a bunch of annoying throw-away kids—like kids we need to sweep out of the way to make room for their more accomplished and more passionate black and Hispanic peers.
Imagine how insulting that presentation must seem to those Asian-American parents. And by the way, just for the record—in that 2017 Naep testing, the percentage of kids who were "low income" broke down like this, according to official Naep data:
Percentage of students from low-income families, Grade 8 mathBased upon those data, life for those Asian-American families "ain't been no crystal stair." Imagine how insulting it must be to see your efforts, and those of your kids, disparaged in this traditional manner.
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep
White students: 38%
Black students: 72%
Hispanic students: 78%
Asian-American students: 70%
Mara Gay is a good decent person; we have no doubt about that. Why then would she offer such an insulting presentation? Why didn't Harris object?
We can't necessarily answer those questions, but we can tell you this:
Gay made snide remarks about those high-achieving Asian kids all through her nineteen minutes with Harris. She also endorsed the mayor's plan to "desegregate" these high-powered schools—his "seven percent solution."
Alas! It's a plan with would send a large number of higher-performing Asian kids out the door at Stuyvesant. It would also encourage ambitious black kids to avoid seeking a challenging education in their middle school years.
To our ear, Gay insulted those Asian-American parents and children early and often. Over Here in our self-impressed liberal world, there are several bombs we typically drop when confronted with conduct like that.
Tomorrow, we'll look at some other things Gay said about those devious Asian kids who are using up the seats of their more deserving black and Hispanic peers. We'll also review the mayor's "seven percent solution."
The mayor's plan strikes us as extremely poor. The Times has endorsed it, Gay said.
Tomorrow: Methods of Asian removal