DESEGREGATING THE GOTHAM ONE: The problem begins with de Blasio's plan!


The New York Times takes it from there:
How much is wrong with the New York Times' ongoing attempt to "desegregate" The Gotham One?

Numbers don't go that high! That said, the problem starts with Mayor de Blasio's astoundingly ham-handed proposal concerning admission procedures at Gotham's eight "specialized high schools." For that reason, we start today with a note about Moses, the great lawgiver.

According to the leading authority on the subject
, Moses—who may or may not have existed!—descended from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, though today they're seen more as suggestions.

This "decalogue" has played a key role in the legal and moral formulations of our foundering western world. However, experts agree that no commandment specified the number of kids who had to be admitted each year to Gotham's Stuyvesant High, the most "elite" high school of all.

Nor did Moses specify the number of academically high-powered high schools New York City should operate in the age of de Blasio. No law defines the number of seats which should be available within such high-powered schools.

Reason suggests that there should be as many seats at such high-powered schools as there are kids in New York City who can handle such high-powered work. But alas! Confronted with the obvious fact that Asian-American kids seem to be his city's most accomplished students, the mayor decided to start a racial war concerning ownership of the seats at his eight "elite" schools.

Let's focus on Stuyvesant High, the most selective of these schools and the only public high school the New York Times seems to care about. The story goes like this:

For better or worse, the mayor apparently got it into his head that a wide range of Gotham kids can handle the high-powered curriculum at this highly selective high school. If that's true, that's extremely good news, and everyone should be glad.

But alas! Instead of expanding the number of seats at Stuyvesant High; instead of converting some existing school into a Stuyvesant II, or perhaps a Stuyvesant Annex; instead of opening some large, equivalent high-powered school which would double the number of kids who could be challenged by the Stuyvesant curriculum:

Instead of taking any such steps, the mayor decided to leave the number of seats unchanged, while offering a stunningly ham-handed plan concerning who gets to use them.

So far, none of this is the fault or doing of the New York Times. It isn't the fault of Eliza Shapiro, the well-connected young reporter who has been been assigned the task of proselytizing for the "desegregation" of Stuyvesant High, the only school her Hamptons-based newspaper seems to care about.

It isn't Shapiro's fault that de Blasio hatched a deeply unintelligent, ham-handed plan, one which was sure to start a dispiriting race war. None of this is Shapiro's fault! But on June 4, for the ten millionth time, Shapiro described that plan as part of the Times' latest front-page "news report" in support of its current "desegregation" crusade.

The passage below is thoroughly accurate. Shapiro has done nothing wrong here:
SHAPIRO AND LAI (6/4/19): 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.

The mayor’s proposal would replace the exam—currently the sole means of gaining admission to the schools—with a system that offers seats to the top-performing students from every city middle school. If his plan is approved by the State Legislature—an increasingly dim possibility—the specialized schools would be nearly 50 percent black and Hispanic, and Asian students would lose about half their seats.

That would be a significant blow
to the Asian students, most of them poor, who have replaced white students as a majority in the specialized schools...
Under the mayor's ham-handed proposal, Asian kids "would lose about half their seats" in New York City's eight "specialized" high schools.

"That would be a significant blow to the Asian students," Shapiro sensibly noted, while noting that Asian kids now constitute a majority of students in the eight high-powered high schools.

(If anything, Shapiro understated. As we noted yesterday, Asian kids now constitute 74 percent of Stuyvesant High School's student body. According to Shapiro, Asian kids would lose half those seats under de Blasio's plan.)

So far, there's nothing (much) to criticize in Shapiro's reporting. By way of contrast, there's a great deal to wonder about in de Blasio's ham-handed plan.

Plainly, de Blasio believe that there are plenty of kids who could handle the challenging curriculum at Stuyvesant and at the seven other "elite" high schools. His plan would swap a bunch of Asian kids out, replacing them with a bunch of black and Hispanic kids, good kids every one.

At this point, an obvious question arises. Instead of swapping all those kids out, why doesn't the mayor simply create additional seats at these high-powered high schools? Alternately, why doesn't he simply create additional high-powered high schools—schools which would teach the same demanding curriculum to a larger number of kids?

No kids would have to lose any seats. Other capable kids could join! Why in the world didn't the mayor come up with a plan like that?

As soon as this obvious question arises, Shapiro's reporting heads toward the depths. From this point forward, there are a million things wrong with her reporting, but it all boils down to one point:

As we noted yesterday, it all boils down to denialism—to elite denial of the size of our nation's achievement gaps. The liberal world has engaged in this denialism for the past fifty years. It's our way of throwing black and Hispanic kids under the bus, even as we pretend to be piously serving their interests.

It's our way of showing that we don't care about the lives and the interests of such kids. Adding insult to injury, the Times cloaks its massive indifference in the guise of a high-minded "desegregation" crusade.

Starting tomorrow, we'll try to get to the various things Shapiro got wrong in that June 4 report. In our view, her endless reporting on this important topic has been awful.

In fairness, it all starts with that plan.

Tomorrow: The seven percent confusion

How big are the specialized schools? Information plays almost no role in the American discourse. That said, we thought you might like to see the relative size of the eight "specialized high schools" which figure in this amazingly limited "desegregation" campaign.

We've drawn our enrollment figures from the leading authority on these schools. All schools serve kids in grades 9-12.

Some schools are large, some quite small:
Total enrollment, Grades 9-12
Brooklyn Tech: 5935 students
Stuyvesant High: 3387 students
Bronx Science: 2977 students
Staten Island Tech: 1562 students
Brooklyn Latin: 567 students
Math, Science and Engineering at City College: 492 students
Queens High School for the Sciences: 415 students
American Studies at Lehman College: 411 students
That's roughly 16,000 students. By our reckoning, these schools end up serving roughly 4-5 percent of Gotham's public school students, depending on how you parse it.

Those schools are full of excellent kids. So are the rest of the city's high schools.

Stuyvesant, the system's crown jewel, serves roughly one percent.


  1. “no commandment specified the number of kids who had to be admitted each year to Gotham's Stuyvesant High, the most "elite" high school of all.”

    The problem is one of logistics: you can’t admit an arbitrarily large number of students to a school made of bricks that has a finite size.

    “Nor did Moses specify the number of academically high-powered high schools New York City should operate in the age of de Blasio. No law defines the number of seats which should be available within such high-powered schools.”

    It isn’t a Mosaic law, but it is state law: specialized high schools have to use the SHSAT as the sole means of entrance. If DeBlasio created new “high-powered” high schools that didn’t use the SHSAT, they wouldn’t be “specialized.” And if the point is legacy and prestige, you can’t create a new school with the legacy and prestige of Stuyvesant.

    By the way, where do all the high-scoring students go who missed the SHSAT cutoff? There must be other decent non-specialized high schools in New York already.

  2. I wonder why the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts is not included in Bob's list of special New York high schools?

  3. Music & Art entrance is by audition, not an academic skills test.

    Most high schools everywhere contain at least two schools, enabling in-school segregation, divided into such as AP/honors/etc. and the rest. A critical mass of the former can get themselves a good education almost anywhere.

    Any attempt to add elite seats while keeping the entrance exam will quickly reveal that the next n-thousand students who qualify will have a similar demographic breakdown as the existing group, thereby sinking the entire misbegotten exercise.

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