DESEGREGATING THE GOTHAM ONE: The Times extends its brave, lonely stand...

TUESDAY, JUNE 25, 2019

...on behalf of the top one percent:
On Tuesday morning, June 4, the New York Times extended its lonely fight—its heroic attempt to "desegregate" the New York City One.

By "The One," we mean the top one percent—the approximate percentage of New York City public school kids who will end up at Stuyvesant High, the city's most "elite" public high school.

The New York Times is deeply concerned with those kids, and with nobody else. It wants to see Stuyvesant "integrated," in a manner the paper deems fit.

On June 4, education reporter Eliza Shapiro was exploring this subject again, for perhaps the ten millionth time. She offered her latest front-page report about enrollment patterns at Gotham's eight "specialized high schools," of which Stuyvesant is the second largest and the most prestigious by far.

Back in March, the eight elite schools had sent out their admission offers for next year's freshman class. In her recent June 4 report, for perhaps the ten millionth time, Shapiro described a statistically remarkable state of affairs:

"Black and Hispanic students currently represent 70 percent of the school system, but make up just 10 percent of the enrollment in the specialized schools," Shapiro reported again.

Indeed, "only seven black students...scored high enough on the specialized school entrance exam to receive an offer to attend Stuyvesant [in next year's freshman class]," she further noted in her June 4 report, for perhaps the ten millionth time.

In fairness to the New York Times, those are truly remarkable numbers. To borrow from Norman Rockwell's famous illustration, those numbers define "the [current] problem we all [uncaringly] live with."

Only seven black kids scored high enough on this year's test to get into Stuyvesant High! On its face, that's a stunning statistic, but in the most straightforward sense, the various numbers Shapiro cited aren't especially hard to explain.

Why do so few black and Hispanic kids gain admission to those high-powered high schools? For perhaps the five millionth time, we'll show you the horrific data which help solve that modern-day non-riddle.

The data shown below define a national problem. Beyond that, these are data you'll never see, or see discussed, in the New York Times:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White kids: 290.71
Black kids: 255.63
Hispanic kids: 263.56
Asian-American kids: 306.03
For all Naep data, start here.

Those data define a problem. They suggest that gigantic "achievement gaps" obtain between average members of those four major groups of New York City kids.

Based on a standard though very rough rule of thumb, those numbers suggest that the average Asian-American eighth-grader in Gotham's public schools could be as much as five academic years ahead of his or her black counterpart in math
as much as five academic years ahead, while still just in the eighth grade!

That's a very rough estimate, but the gaps do seem gigantic. That said, Stuyvesant High wasn't designed to serve the academically "average" Gotham kid. Below, you see the gaps which obtain, on that same math test, among New York City's (academically) talented tenths:
90th percentile scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, 2017 Naep

White kids: 337.79
Black kids: 299.75
Hispanic kids: 309.51
Asian-American kids: 355.63
Presumably, the bulk of kids who would sensibly qualify for an advanced curriculum like Stuyvesant's would be drawn from the top ten percent of performers on a test like the Naep. But alas:

Even at that advanced level, giant achievement gaps seem to obtain in New York City, as they do in the public schools of our nation as a whole.

Among Gotham's Asian-American kids, the talented tenth outperform their white counterparts by a substantial margin. They outperform their black and Hispanic peers by three or four country miles.

In the most straightforward sense, these basic data would seem to explain the enrollment figures currently found in New York City's eight "elite" high schools. Indeed, graphics within Shapiro's June 4 report lay out a few more startling statistics, this time concerning the performance of the city's Asian kids.

Good lord! Though Asian kids number just 16 percent of Gotham public school kids overall, they currently comprise 62 percent of all students at those eight "specialized high schools."

Even more strikingly, they hold an amazing 74 percent of the seats at super-elite Stuyvesant High! They gain those seats through high performance on the specialized high schools' admission test, a performance which could be predicted from their academic achievement overall.

Today, we'll repeat a basic point for the ten millionth time:

On its face, there's nothing surprising about the fact that Asian kids hold so many seats at Stuyvesant High. There's nothing surprising about the low number of seats currently held by black and Hispanic kids, though those numbers invite us to ponder, and to attempt to address, an ongoing national problem.

At the New York Times, poobahs have chosen to pretend that the problem doesn't exist. In effect, the New York Times has decided to function as an achievement gap denier.

Within the past year, Eliza Shapiro has become the queen of the gap deniers. She keeps suggesting, and even saying, that the enrollment gaps at Stuyvesant High are s function of "test prep," nothing more.

On June 4, she wrote about the relative lack of Gifted and Talented Education programs at various low-income schools across New York City. She couldn't seem to imagine why such programs might not make sense in middle schools which mainly serve Gotham's low-income black and Hispanic kids.

She never says a discouraging word about Mayor de Blasio's stunningly stupid and ugly plan to boot the bulk of Asian-American kids out of Stuyvesant High. In her June 4 report, she was somehow able to write a passage like this for perhaps the ten millionth time, without so much as batting an eye or raising an obvious question:
SHAPIRO (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.
Under the mayor's remarkable plan, those high-performing Asian-American kids would have lost about half their seats! Inevitably, they would have been replaced by kids whose academic achievement levels fell far short of their own. (More on that shortfall tomorrow.)

The mayor's proposal needed approval from the New York state legislature. Last week, the legislature adjourned without choosing to act. For that reason, and for the time being, the current system stands.

Also standing is the persistent denialism of Shapiro and the Times. Her work on this topic constitutes some of the worst upper-end journalism we've ever seen. At the heart of this awful journalism lies denial of the size of those gigantic gaps, even of their existence.

Those gaps define a terrible problem confronting Gotham's black and Hispanic kids and everyone else who's decent. At the Times, they care about the one percent—the black and Hispanic kids who might make it to Stuyvesant High.

They proceed to gloss their lonely stand by pretending that they stand on the ramparts fighting "segregation." As they do, they continue to hide and disappear a vastly larger problem than the highly limited problem they identify.

The Times is concerned with the top one percent. The rest of Gotham's black and Hispanic kids can pretty much go straight to Hades.

The Times keeps pounding this hidden message. When will this conduct stop?

Tomorrow: Just how large are those gaps?

5 comments:

  1. "Those gaps define a terrible problem confronting Gotham's black and Hispanic kids and everyone else who's decent."

    Really? And what exactly is this "terrible problem"? Please enlighten, dear Bob.

    Your zombie cult's racialist worldview, I suppose?

    ReplyDelete
  2. “On June 4, she wrote about the relative lack of Gifted and Talented Education programs at various low-income schools across New York City. She couldn't seem to imagine why such programs might not make sense in middle schools which mainly serve Gotham's low-income black and Hispanic kids.”

    Somerby ought to ponder this a bit more. In his view, why would gifted and talented programs not make sense in middle schools in low-income areas? Because there are no gifted and talented students there?

    If one believes that the achievement gaps are not the result of an immutable natural law, but are related to the environment, both at home and in school, in which a child finds him/herself, then it follows that there must be far more average and above-average children there who simply don’t have the proper environment in which to succeed.

    Couple that with the way in which NYC’s gifted and talented program starts children very early (some as early as kindergarten), we see that many black and Hispanic students are denied almost from the get-go the programs that would help them achieve enrollment at the specialized high schools naturally on their own merit, without resorting to a plan such as deBlasio’s.

    And this isn’t just about the one percent, or the eight specialized high schools. Even if a gifted black or Hispanic kid didn’t pass the SHSAT, he/she would still have benefitted from a gifted and talented program that would help their academic achievement at another high school, in college, and ultimately help them get a better job. This is a ripple effect. And unless a greater percentage of these children go on to greater success, the cycle of poverty and poor academic achievement will persist.

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