In search of the actual lives and the actual interests of the 99 percent: Are New York City's public schools "severely racially segregated?"
Does it make sense to say that Gotham's public schools are "segregated" at all?
It's largely as you like it! For ourselves, we think the extension of such terminology to a school system like New York City's tends to produce a lot of heat while blocking a lot of light.
Others may feel that the emission of heat is productive. That said, we raise these questions because the New York Times' Eliza Shapiro described Gotham's schools in the manner described in one of her endless reports about her newspaper's greatest dream—the dream of "desegregating" the New York City One.
By the New York City One, we refer to the academic top one percent of New York City's black and Hispanic public school kids. They constitute the special group the New York Times seeks to free.
The other 99 percent of Gotham's black and Hispanic kids can pretty much go straight to heck! The New York Times rarely addresses their interests, experiences and needs. The newspaper for which Shapiro works leans heavily toward the "elite."
We're quoting Shapiro from one of her most recent pleadings about New York City's handful of "elite" high schools. The pleading appeared on Tuesday, June 4, bearing this headline:
How New York’s Elite Public Schools Lost Their Black and Hispanic StudentsIt would be extremely useful to see that topic explored in a competent manner. Instead, Shapiro launched her standard hall-of-mirrors discussion, in which she seemed to say that the demographics of Gotham's eight "elite" schools are a result of that current devil, "test prep."
Back in March, Shapiro seemed to tell an NPR audience that "test prep" (along with its cousin, "test awareness") is the sole explanation for the racial imbalance at such schools as Stuyvesant High.
(No, really—that's what she said!)
It would be hard to make a crazier statement—or a statement which is much more retrogressive. But the New York Times treats the racial imbalance in those "elite" schools as an example of test prep-determined "segregation," and Shapiro was beating that performative drum in that recent report:
SHAPIRO AND LAI (6/4/19): For years, most who took the admissions test had little to no preparation. Today, test prep is a rapidly expanding local industry. At the same time, many accelerated academic programs in mostly black and Hispanic neighborhoods have closed as Asian immigrants have embraced the specialized high schools as tickets out of poverty.According to Shapiro, Gotham's public schools aren't just "racially segregated"—they're severely racially segregated. The Times is fighting to "integrate" those schools—though the only schools they seem to discuss are those which are viewed as "elite."
And in a school system that remains severely racially segregated, many black and Hispanic students have been left in struggling middle schools that sometimes do not even notify them that the elite schools exist.
Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to scrap the decades-old admissions test has sparked an intense backlash and a renewed fight over how to integrate the city’s deeply divided school system.
Are Gotham's public schools "severely racially segregated?" To what extent does it make sense to call them "segregated" at all?
Also, to what extent could Gotham's public schools actually be "integrated?" For today, we thought it might make sense to focus on that sole question.
It's certainly true that New York City could take steps to adjust the racial and ethnic balance in its three million public schools. (Actual number: 1,840.) That said, the system could only be "integrated" to a certain extent, depending on what you want to mean by that historically fraught term.
This is especially true if the only "integration" you're willing to honor involves "integration" with white kids. As you may know, the New York City Pubic Schools don't have an endless supply of such kids. The numbers looked like this last fall, according to official city statistics:
Student enrollment, New York City Public SchoolsIf "integration" means only one thing—letting "minority" kids go to school with "white" kids, at least on their way in the door—there's only so much "desegregation" you can hope to achieve within this gigantic school system.
White kids: 15.0%
Black kids: 26.0%
Hispanic kids: 40.5%
Asian-American kids: 16.1%
(Total enrollment: 1.14 million)
There isn't a giant supply of white kids in New York City's schools. There will quickly be even fewer such kids if you institute ham-handed "desegregation" plans, including the types of ham-handed plans the New York Times most admires.
It's hard to "integrate" Gotham's schools! Anyone who actually cares about the interests of black and Hispanic kids will want to come to terms with a basic fact:
New York City is going to have "majority-minority" schools long into the future. If you actually care about the interests of low-income black and Hispanic kids, you're going to have to look for ways to serve those interests in schools whose demographics aren't straight out of Leave It To Beaver, the era to which scribes like Shapiro seem to have their brains affixed.
Gotham isn't Leave It to Beaver and won't be any time soon! Meanwhile, what might define the types of "interests" which aren't being fully served at present?
Once again, we'll present the horrific statistics you'll never see, or see discussed, in the New York Times, an upper-class paper which only seems to care about schools which send kids on to Yale:
Average scores, Grade 8 mathAs we told you yesterday, those are statistics from Hell. Shapiro's response is to stand on the ramparts pretending to defend the interests of the top one percent—the tiny number of black and Hispanic kids who might end up at Stuyvesant High.
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep
White kids: 290.71
Black kids: 255.63
Hispanic kids: 263.56
Asian-American kids: 306.03
(Very few kids from any group get to go to those eight "elite" high schools.)
As far as Shapiro and her owners are concerned, those are the black and Hispanic kids who need to be freed. Their less successful peers can all go straight to Hades.
We've been doing this site for more than twenty-one years. We don't know if we've ever seen journalism as horrific as the work Shapiro is serving, under the direction of an editor who has exactly zero background in the field of public education and answers questions about her own glorious self in this remarkable manner:
INTERVIEWER (9/17): What is your favorite thing right now?We're sorry, but it makes our blood boil to see such blather from a future New York Times education editor—an education editor with exactly zero background in public education. How much more do you have to know, once you know that the New York Times selected this inexperienced middle-aged person to supervise Shapiro's fatuous work about the needs of Gotham's black and Hispanic kids, with a constant back of the hand to the city's Asian kids?
FUTURE NEW YORK TIMES EDITOR: I love tarot and fortune telling, and just got these Art Oracle cards—you draw one and get some life/work/inspiration advice. Tonight I really wanted to draw a Warhol, a Koons, a Basquiat or an O'Keefe but instead I pulled a William Blake: “Hell is hypocrisy on earth. Vision requires not sight but spirit. Madness in life, genius in death.” Thanks? I suspect soon my favorite thing will be Rihanna’s new Fenty Beauty line, which drops later tonight.
INTERVIEWER: What is your Kryptonite?
FUTURE NEW YORK TIMES EDITOR: If it’s shiny, I can’t resist it, be it tin foil, diamonds or Raf Simons silver Adidas. And I hate myself for getting unglued, gobsmacked, addle-pated and giddy around pretty boys with cheekbones you could slice a ham on.
Gotham's schools will never be "integrated" in a manner reminiscent of Leave It to Beaver. For that matter, neither will the public schools of the United States as a whole.
We'll guess that very few New York Times readers would have a clear idea of the demographics of our country's student population. In large part, that would be because of the fatuous way this dull-witted newspaper reports on the public schools.
But whatever the reason, it might be educational to lay out the basic data for the nation as a whole, and also for the state of New York. Today's youth look like this:
Student enrollment, American public schoolsAs you may have heard somewhere, we are very much a multi-ethnic, multi-"racial" nation, especially among the young. There is no way to recreate the sacred world in which Wally and the Beav help the three black kids in their otherwise all-white 30-student classrooms, the way it used to be.
White kids: 47.5%
Black kids: 15.4%
Hispanic kids: 27.6%
Asian-American kids: 5.5%
Biracial kids: 3.0%
Native American kids: 1.0%
(Total enrollment: 50.7 million)
Student enrollment, New York State public schools
White kids: 42.5%
Black kids: 17.1%
Hispanic kids: 27.0%
Asian-American kids: 9.6%
Multiracial kids: 2.4%
Native American kids: 0.7%
(Total enrollment: 2.62 million)
In our nation's city schools, there are going to be a ton of schools which can't be "integrated" in the childish way Shapiro seems to want to imagine. If you care about the interests of the nation's black and Hispanic kids, you'll have to look for ways to serve their interests in schools and classrooms which aren't miraculously "integrated" in line with some long-ago dream.
And by the way, the assignment is large. You'll never learn this in the Times, but the national data in Grade 8 math look like this—and these are horrific statistics:
Average scores, Grade 8 mathThe gaps are enormous all over the country—and those are real achievement gaps. They aren't an artifact of "test prep," the silly, childish, feel-good blather Shapiro keeps dishing out.
United States public schools, 2017 Naep
White kids: 292.16
Black kids: 259.60
Hispanic kids: 268.49
Asian-American kids: 309.52
We're not sure we've ever seen journalism this bad. It's being churned by a hugely-connected kid and her absurdly unqualified editor—and by a Hamptons-based, upper-class newspaper which blatantly doesn't care.
Also, this helps explain why Donald J. Trump can be found where he is. That's part of this grisly tale too.
Tomorrow: One reader's instant reaction