The Times is almost at it again!


The concerns of the top two percent:
This very morning, right on its front page, the New York Times could almost be said to be at it again.

We refer to the latest front-page report by education reporter Eliza Shapiro. Inevitably, the report is built around the question of who gets to go to Stuyvesant High, the city's most elite public high school.

At the Times, few things matter except for Stuyvesant High. Shapiro's report starts like this:
SHAPIRO (4/27/19): Ronald S. Lauder, the billionaire cosmetics heir, and Richard D. Parsons, the former chairman of Citigroup, have for decades had their hands in New York City affairs. Mr. Lauder ran a failed bid for mayor and successfully led a campaign for term limits for local elected officials. Mr. Parsons has been a prominent adviser to two mayors.

Now, they are teaming up to try to influence one of the city’s most intractable and divisive debates: how to address the lack of black and Hispanic students at Stuyvesant High School, Bronx High School of Science and the other elite public high schools that use a test to determine admission.
You could say that Shapiro, and with her the Times, is just reporting the news. You could say that the Times is simply reporting an attempt "to influence one of the city’s most intractable and divisive debates"—an attempt by two public figures who "have for decades had their hands in New York City affairs."

In saying that, you'll want to ignore that slightly peculiar choice of words on Shapiro's part. You might also be looking past a basic question concerning what sorts of "debates" go on the front page of the Times.

In this instance, the New York Times has once again given a chunk of its front page to the question of why gets to go to the city's most elite public high schools. This involves a tiny handful of students—the most talented two percent.

The New York Times cares about kids and concerns of that type—but trust us! As we've told you before, we'll tell you again:

You'll never see the New York Times mar its front page with this:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White students: 290.71
Black students: 255.63
Hispanic students: 263.56
Asian-American students: 306.03

90th percentile scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White students: 337.79
Black students: 299.75
Hispanic students: 309.51
Asian-American students: 355.63
Those brutal data define the giant achievement gaps which exist within the New York City Public Schools. (Also, within public schools across the nation.)

Those data define the plight of the hundreds of thousands of black and Hispanic kids who will never get a sniff of Stuyvesant High, or of its demanding curriculum. Those kids aren't part of this lofty "debate." Again and again, they simply aren't part of the world of the New York Times.

Those brutal data define the interests of the vast majority of New York City kids. It's abundantly clear that the New York Times doesn't care about those kinds of kids.

The New York Times cares about the elite. The rest of those kids can go jump in the Hudson—and sure enough! Tragicomically, Shapiro is soon writing this:
SHAPIRO: [Lauder and Parsons] are trying to make their mark on the future of the system, the nation’s largest, with 1.1 million students.

Their effort amounts to a new challenge to Mr. de Blasio’s education agenda from people whose ideas are more reminiscent of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s vision. They are seeking to forge connections to leaders in Albany who are skeptical of the mayor’s philosophy.

They are championing a range of educational ideas that include more gifted and talented programs, more test preparation, better middle schools and more elite high schools. Mr. de Blasio’s administration, on the other hand, is skeptical of high-stakes testing and academic tracking in the school system.

Mr. de Blasio is seeking to replace the test for the eight so-called specialized schools with an approach where top performers from each middle school would be offered spots.
A person could say that Shapiro is simply reporting the news as it exists. That assessment wouldn't exactly be "wrong."

That said, go ahead! You're permitted to laugh out loud at what Shapiro has written.

According to Shapiro, Lauder and Parsons favor "better middle schools" in New York City! We're left to assume what's probably true—that Mayor de Blasio doesn't.

The mayor favors getting more black kids into Stuyvesant. That certainly isn't the world's worst idea, but that seems to be where this ridiculous mayor's educational vision ends.

Why do so few black kids currently get into Stuyvesant? The answer to that question starts with those achievement gaps—the giant gaps which have emerged by the end of Gotham kids' years in New York's middle schools.

Those data suggest that something isn't happening in those middle schools. (Earlier gaps in Naep data suggest the possible need for "better elementary schools" too!)

Lauder and Parsons seem to think that New York City should try to improve the middle schools from which those data emerge. Do Lauder and Parson have any idea how to accomplish that task?

We'd be surprised if they did. But here's the choice the reader is offered on the front page of the Times:

Lauder and Parsons want to improve Gotham's middle schools. There's no obvious sign that they know how to do that, and it seems that the mayor doesn't share this goal.

That's the way this clownish discussion goes down in the Times. The dumbness of this clownish discussion emerges from a basic fact:

The New York Times refuses to publish or discuss the data which define those crushing achievement gaps. Last month, Shapiro even went on NPR's All Things Considered and seemed to say that the gaps don't really exist—that they're just an artifact of "test prep," full and complete total stop.

Truly, you can't get dumber than that. But that's what Shapiro said.

The New York Times deeply cares about who gets into Stuyvesant. After all, such kids may later get into Yale and go on to get invited to high-end cocktail parties.

By way of contrast, the Times refuses to discuss the basic facts about the vast majority of Gotham kids. At the Times, that extremely wide range of good decent kids can just go live in the park.

Those brutal data define "the problem we all [uncaringly] live with." But at the Hamptons-based Times, the front page belongs to one central question:

Who will get sent to Stuyvesant High, and perhaps move on to Yale?

Another flight of fancy: Let's consider a different part of Shapiro's nugget presentation:
SHAPIRO: [Lauder and Parsons] are championing a range of educational ideas that include more gifted and talented programs, more test preparation, better middle schools and more elite high schools. Mr. de Blasio’s administration, on the other hand, is skeptical of high-stakes testing and academic tracking in the school system.
The mayor "is skeptical of academic tracking!" With that in mind, consider one additional set of data from the Naep:
Scores by percentile, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

90th percentile: 329.72
75th percentile: 303.23
50th percentile: 272.76
25th percentile: 245.27
10th percentile: 222.66
For all Naep data, start here.

In the most recent Naep testing, ten percent of Gotham's kids scored above 329.76 on the Grade 8 math test. Ten percent of Gotham's kids scored below 222.66.

Based on standard rules of thumb, the gap between those two groups of kids is several light-years past enormous. But so what? Gotham's extremely peculiar mayor thinks those kids should all be taking the same Grade 8 and Grade 9 math!

Here too, Shapiro's childish report is operating "on first grade level." This dumbness persists because the upper-class New York Times refuses to report, analyze or discuss the most basic educational data.

You currently live in a very dumb world. The dumbness starts at the New York Times, where only the talented two percent even seem to exist.


  1. “The mayor favors getting more black kids into Stuyvesant. That certainly isn't the world's worst idea, but that seems to be where this ridiculous mayor's educational vision ends.”

    DeBlasio’s pre-K program:

  2. De Blasio understands, as Somerby does not, that those gifted classes are often a proxy for racial segregation because black and Hispanic children are rarely admitted to them, no matter how smart they might be. So, tracking is de facto segregation and perpetuates the NAEP gaps Somerby decries by ensuring that black and Hispanic kids leave school with a lesser ability to help their own kids in those critical preschool years, less able to guide their kids towards college, locked into low paying jobs for life.

    De Blasio has a point too, one that won't be addressed by instituting more tracking in schools. Black and Hispanic kids do better when they compete with white and Asian kids, as they will do later in life. If Somerby thinks those gaps don't translate into real world advantages and disadvantages, he has been sleeping in the woods. But white parents fight ferociously to keep their advantages. Lauder and Parsons are part of that fight. If Somerby allies himself with them, he is on the wrong side.

    People who live in NY City are generally engaged in careers involving competition, advantage and disadvantage. Of course they care about this topic. The newspaper reflects that community concern. Covering the ways in which politicians use education to wage political battles seems pretty important to me. Somerby seems to imply that the newspaper is creating these battles, not the parents and not the politicians, especially not the elites represented by Lauder and Parsons. He thinks the reporter isn't reporting but setting the agenda for NYC parents. That isn't true.

    Somerby tries to distract everyone with NAEP scores, he is trying to slime DeBlasio (why, when DeBlasio is a progressive and Somerby is supposedly liberal?). He is joining forces with the elites to preserve tracking that separates white and black students as surely as laws did back in the bad old days. He is once again urging the conservative viewpoint under guise of being a liberal. Does he think no one will notice?

    Leroy, Cecelia, Mao, David. We have faithful conservative trolls here who feel like this is a safe space for their regressive views. Was this ever a progressive/liberal blog? I am beginning to forget the last time Somerby said something even vaguely liberal.

    1. "Was this ever a progressive/liberal blog?"

      Why, occasionally Bob does growl like a zombie.

  3. “The dumbness starts at the New York Times”

    The New York Times will be gratified to learn that it is the center of the world.

  4. “The New York Times deeply cares about who gets into Stuyvesant. After all, such kids may later get into Yale and go on to get invited to high-end cocktail parties.”

    Low-income Asian students (and their parents) work their whole lives to get into Stuyvesant. It seems important to them, and they make up the majority of students there.

    Who gets into elite schools is not purely an upper-class decadent concern. It affects the power structure of the country and who gets to wield power.

    1. So, you don't think "low-income Asian students (and their parents) work" to excel academically for reasons other than to gain admission to Stuyvesant and to subsequently "wield power."

      You don't think Asian students as a group are better prepared to learn than children of most other groups when they begin their grade school careers- or you don't care that is the reality. Your conclusion is there's no advantage to the individual to be among those in New York City who are able to score higher on achievement tests than those who score lower unless the higher scorer ends up qualifying for admission into a specialized high school.

      You're what's wrong with the "to the meritocracy go the spoils" wing of the Democratic Party. What's really sad is you're almost certainly not a member of the elite, just a brainwashed lackey of theirs.

    2. I'll say it'd be fun to let ghetto dwellers "wield power" for a while. I bet the useless, helpless zombies a-la 1:06 PM will be first to replace them in vacant favelas...

    3. CMike, are you saying that Asian kids study hard for the fun of it? That previous NY Times article said that Asian American kids are taking test prep to get into special high schools, which clearly implies a goal, and it said that their parents are aware of the value of attending such schools, which again implies a goal beyond simply going to such a high school.

      Please don't start left vs left feuds here. You Bernie bros don't consider yourself Democrats and you think it helps to attack from the left. We all saw how well that worked out in 2016. I personally don't want to give Trump another 4 years and you shouldn't either. Please try to find common cause with the Democrat "wings" you dislike so that we can address the common enemy. We can get all factional once Trump is gone.

    4. 6:21 PM,

      Your use of the term "Bernie bros" can only mean you're here to sow dissension and try and get Trump reelected. Are you even a person?

      Most likely you're posting as anonymous because you're a Russian bot. I may not have been cynical enough to pick up right away on the game you're playing in this thread but it's obvious now you're a Trump or Putin agent posing as a tired cliche.

      Don't fall for 6:21 PM's pre-programmed tricks Howler thread readers. Vote to save America, vote Bernie 2020!

    5. The best defense is a good offense, right CMike. No one can argue that Bernie didn't damage Clinton in the general election. Now he is attacking all of the Democratic candidates in the same way he went after Clinton. The problem is that he didn't stop once she got the nomination, just as Sanders continued to attack the Democratic party after Trump was elected. He doesn't like Democrats. I don't think he should have been permitted run as one. I wouldn't vote for him if he were the nominee. He should bow out of the election and let actual Democrats select someone who belongs to their party.

      The hypocrisy of economic progressives voting for a millionaire (who has made money running for office) is as stunning as Republican hypocrisy. Bernie had no problem taking money from the Russians, accepting their social media help, and YOU think I'M a Russian bot! Try thinking for yourself CMike, instead of cutting and pasting the ideas Bernie feeds you. He is corrupt and you are being played for a fool.

    6. Sanders should be running in the GOP primaries this time. He's already pushed the Democratic Party to the left (to the point there are better, more left Democratic Party candidates than him). If he can move the GOP to the left, at all, by running in the GOP primaries, he'd be providing an amazing service to this country.

    7. 3:11 PM, a war mongering neoliberal, let's it slip:

      I wouldn't vote for him if he were the nominee.

      So much for 6:21 PM's bull excrement about Trump being "the common enemy." These centrists are all alike, they'd rather lose to a Republican than see an actual progressive elected. A little virtue signaling by way of identity politics, sure, but 5:11 PM has no intention of getting crazy enough to get behind a $15/hr. minimum wage bill.

    8. CMike,
      In your list of Right-wing memes to repeat ("virtue signaling" and "identity politics") you forgot to mention "All Lives Matter".

    9. 10:52 PM,

      I understand why some people, who upon first hearing the phrase "black lives matter" thought a sympathetic response to it was, "Yes, of course, all lives matter." However, unlike any of them who meant well enough including, I suppose, someone with whom, I suspect, you're willing to align yourself [LINK], I have never used that response.

      I have always understood what "black lives matter" necessarily means because I have never forgotten, from the time I first read it in my teen years, one particular passage from a novel which powerfully argued against racism (and which was written, as night follows the day, by one of our country's greatest spokespersons against American imperialism):

      “Now I can have a good look at you; and, laws-a-me, I’ve been hungry for it a many and a many a time, all these long years, and it’s come at last! We been expecting you a couple of days and more. What kep’ you?—boat get aground?”


      “Don’t say yes’m—say Aunt Sally. Where’d she get aground?”

      I didn’t rightly know what to say, because I didn’t know whether the boat would be coming up the river or down. But I go a good deal on instinct; and my instinct said she would be coming up—from down towards Orleans. That didn’t help me much, though; for I didn’t know the names of bars down that way. I see I’d got to invent a bar, or forget the name of the one we got aground on—or—Now I struck an idea, and fetched it out:

      “It warn’t the grounding—that didn’t keep us back but a little. We blowed out a cylinder-head.”

      “Good gracious! anybody hurt?”

      “No’m. Killed a n****r.”

      “Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt. Two years ago last Christmas your uncle Silas was coming up from Newrleans on the old Lally Rook, and she blowed out a cylinder-head and crippled a man. And I think he died afterwards. He was a Baptist. Your uncle Silas knowed a family in Baton Rouge that knowed his people very well. Yes, I remember now, he did die. Mortification set in, and they had to amputate him. But it didn’t save him. Yes, it was mortification—that was it. He turned blue all over, and died in the hope of a glorious resurrection. They say he was a sight to look at....
      [END QUOTE]

      As far as "virtue signaling," and "identity politics" go, I find both of them perfectly useful terms [LINK] to use.

    10. CMike,
      I find "virtue signaling" and "identity politics" useful terms to dismiss the concerns of society's most vulnerable (immigrants, women, gays, etc). In fact, that is exactly why Right-wingers use those terms. Same as when they use "All Lives Matter".

    11. Yeah well 3:46 AM, I'd say you check five or more of these boxes. Best of luck getting back to thinking for yourself someday.

    12. God is a figment of dim-witted imaginations.

      Also, CMike repeats Right-wing nonsense memes, not because he too is a right-wing piece of shit. He does it because he thinks it makes him look like a maverick. CMike is an idiot.

  5. I'm taking my lambs to Ecuador.

  6. I am not sure the Times even cares about the top 2% of black kids. Would kids be well-served at Bronx Science if their math ability is years behind their schoolmates? I think the Times mostly cares about having a mix of skin colors, regardless of how well that mix actually serves each actual child.

    1. I think the Times cares about being seen as caring about the right issues in the right way.
      Actually improving K-12 education for most kids? Not a roiling debate in their minds.

      Worth qualifying one point Bob made - Asian kids leaving Stuyvesant will have the devil's own time getting into Yale and Harvard. Quotas and competition...

    2. Math skills can be improved via tutoring. All it takes is practice. A kid attending a special school might be more motivated to put in the work to improve.

      David reveals himself as someone who thinks ability is innate not malleable. Asians believe ability is the result of hard work. They punish their kids for failing. In the US, we tend to console kids for doing poorly, implicitly teaching them that we think they are too stupid to succeed. Asian parents don't tell their kids they are stupid, they chide them for being lazy. This difference shows up in their test scores, right from grade 1. This is part of what is meant by differences in parental expectations.

      At the graduate level, admission to science programs is skewed because few white college grads apply to them. Foreign students make up more than half the admissions and Asian American students are over-represented. That's because grad school is hard and white students don't want to work that hard and haven't done the work to prepare themselves for it. White middle class parents go to their kids schools and complain if there is too much homework or if the work isn't fun. It would be nice if white college grads wanted to go on to advanced degrees, but they don't and our economy suffers because we must outsource technical jobs and import those trained in other countries, because our own kids don't want to do the work, even for jobs that are high paying.

      But Bob, like David, thinks black kids cannot do better if they are encouraged, goaded, inspired, pushed like Asian kids are, into expending more effort on the pathway their grandparents recognized would lead to the middle class. It did that and will do it for today's black kids too, if we don't sell them short -- the way Somerby wants to do.

      David is a silly old fart. What is Somerby's excuse?

    3. This is the main message of Stand and Deliver, a movie based on real life experiences of an engineer who taught math at Garfield High in Los Angeles, at the time a predominantly Hispanic school, with great success. Somerby no doubt dismisses this as a myth, a narrative that warms liberal hearts. Some of us from LA knew the guy and knew his results were not only true but criticized by folks who thought he was being too hard on his students, demanding too much.

    4. Mayor de Blasio might better serve the city’s kids, rather than just the more academically successful ones, if he would mandate all pregnant couples to take parenting classes taught by Asians.

    5. @6:34 I do agree with you that black kids, like all kids, should be encouraged, goaded, inspired, and pushed. One way to do this would be to make black kids aware of the late David Blackwell, a brilliant black mathematician, who co-invented Dynamic Programming, a new field of mathematics. Instead, black kids are taught to emulate grievance mongers, like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, and black victims, as Jussie Smollett tried to become. Support for victims is so strong that Smollett was nominated for an award from the NAACP after his fakery had been exposed.

    6. So if black kids learn about David Blackwell they won't be shot by a cop while unarmed? Nice theory.

    7. Credit for dynamic programming is given to Richard Bellman and Blackwell's name is not mentioned, except that Bellman's equation meets Blackwell's sufficient conditions. When you Google Blackwell, there is no mention of Bellman or dynamic programming among his many accomplishments. Blackwell was apparently at Rand Corporation up until 1950 but Bellman joined Rand in 1949 and was said to have developed dynamic programming during his many years there. Blackwell and Bellman did not co-author any papers, as they would have if Blackwell had collaborated with Bellman on Dynamic programming.

      I think it is a huge stretch to attribute dynamic programming to Blackwell, who has many other accomplishments to his name, but not this one. Blackwell did teach a course at Berkeley on Dynamic Programming. Maybe that is what has confused you.

    8. Thanks for your comment, @2:09. When I was at Berkeley studying probability theory, Blackwell was represented as the co-creator of Dynamic Programming, along with Bellman. Maybe that was an exaggeration.

      I recall going to a lecture on a paper written by Blackwell and David Freedman. They were both modest. Blackwell said Freedman had written the paper. Freedman said he had just written down a result which had been obtained by Blackwell.

      I did hear Blackwell lecture once. He took a complex result and not only proved it, but made it clear and understandable.

    9. Reading "Richard Bellman on the Birth of Dynamic Programming" by Stuart Dreyfus, who quotes Bellman extensively. Blackwell is never mentioned and they did not overlap or work together on Bellman's ultimate contribution. However, the area of research pre-existed Bellman's employment at Rand. Bellman, a visiting fellow from Stanford, was assigned to study multistage decision processes when he arrived at Rand. He did invent the name dynamic programming because Rand's granting agency, the Air Force, didn't want them doing pure mathematics.

      Bellman refers to the attitude of mathematicians toward the use of numerical analysis to obtain specific numeric solutions (answers) to questions -- "the computational solution of complex functional equations". This is what the women "calculators" assigned to NASA's space program did -- they found the numeric answers to practical questions using complicated equations. This was considered beneath white male mathematicians.

      Bellman says: "Like most mathematicians of my generation, I had been brought up to scorn this utilitarian activity. Numerical solution was considered the last resort of an incompetent mathematician. The opposite, of course, is true. Once working in the area, it is very quickly realized that far more ability and sophistication is required to obtain a numerical solution than to establish the usual existence and uniqueness of theorems."

      Below, Mao asks what kind of hazing occurs. Assignment to problems that are considered interesting by doctoral mentors and supervisors is an example. Women and minorities with the same degrees as men get assigned to work considered beneath male mathematicians. Those women worked for NASA because the jobs in mathematics open to men were closed to them.

      Bellman talks about saving ideas to give to his grad students for their dissertations. Apparently Blackwell did the same for Freedman. What if your advisor doesn't do that? Is that an advantage or a disadvantage? It is another part of the hazing that mentors don't do the same kind of mentoring for women and minorities that they do for male students. That too is "hazing".

    10. "What if your advisor doesn't do that?"

      Yeah, right. And what if the moon is made of cheese? Could that explain one's quitting an activity they have no brain and/or passion for?

      Why, I suppose it could, since in the zombie cult no PC bullshit is deemed too stupid.

    11. @4:45 I should clarify. Freedman and Blackwell were both brilliant, eminent Professors. They were both famous in their field.

    12. @2:09 and @4:45 -- I asked a former grad school buddy about who deserves credit for Dymanic Programming. My friend was close to Blackwell. He is a Statistics Professor Emeritus at a major university. He wrote:


      Bellman gets a lot of credit, but it is partly due, I think, to his having chosen the name "dynamic programming" for the subject.
      Much of the theory of "stochastic dynamic programming" is due to Blackwell. The most common name for this area is now "Markov decision theory.." Both Bellman and Blackwell made fundamental contributions.

      Blackwell also did important work on the theory of stochastic games.. His paper with Tom Ferguson on the "Big Match" led to many later developments.

      Side comment: I know from personal experience that Blackwell was a great teacher and a charming generous person. I have it on good authority that Bellman was a narcissistic asshole.


  7. @6:34 - I never said math ability was not malleable. My point was that students need to be in a class that at their level and that moves at the speed at which they're capable. You can see the result of affirmative action in college. "A new study shows that Latinx and black students leave STEM majors at far higher rates than their white peers."

    1. Of course they leave at higher rates. So do women. Male students and male professors haze nontraditional students who try to enter STEM majors until the students decide it isn't worth it to continue. Affirmative action isn't the problem, the STEM culture is the problem.

    2. Lol. Tell me more, dembot, please. About these hazings perpetrated by professors. All the gory details.

    3. @2:56 - My wife studied graduate mathematics and statistics quite a few years ago. She was not hazed. On the contrary, if anything she got extra attention from the Professors and good friendship with her classmates,

  8. Hello everyone reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my husband after three(3) years of marriage just because another woman had a spell on him and he left me and the kid to suffer. One day when I was reading through the web, I saw a post on how this spell caster Dr irosi have help a woman to get back her husband and I gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that I will have my husband back. I believed him and today I am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back because I am now happy with my husband. Thanks for His great work here is his email: Or call his number +2348118829771 Contact Dr irosi and get your relationship problem solved.    

  9. LOTTO, lottery,jackpot.
    Hello all my viewers, I am very happy for sharing this great testimonies,The best thing that has ever happened in my life is how I win the lottery euro million mega jackpot. I am a Woman who believe that one day I will win the lottery. finally my dreams came through when I email and tell him I need the lottery numbers. I have spend so much money on ticket just to make sure I win. But I never know that winning was so easy until the day I meant the spell caster online which so many people has talked about that he is very great in casting lottery spell, . so I decide to give it a try.I contacted this great Dr Believe and he did a spell and he gave me the winning lottery numbers. But believe me when the draws were out I was among winners. I win 30,000 million Dollar. Dr Believe truly you are the best, all thanks to you forever



    Hello, I'm here to testify of how i got my loan from BENJAMIN LOAN FINANCE( I don't know if you are in need of an urgent loan to pay bills, start business or build a house, they offer all kinds of loan. So feel free to contact Dr. Benjamin Owen he holds all of the information about how to obtain money quickly and painlessly without cost/stress via Email:

    Consider all your financial problems tackled and solved ASAP. Share this to help a soul right now THANKS.