DESEGREGATING THE GOTHAM ONE: The Times just keeps denying those giant gaps!


It does so in various ways:
It's hard to know how to approach Eliza Shapiro June 4 report—the ten millionth front-page report in which she has advanced her newspaper's brave crusade in favor of "desegregating" the Gotham One.

By The One, we mean the one percent of New York City public school kids who will end up at Stuyvesant High, the most selective and most prestigious of Gotham's eight "elite" public high schools.

Due to its status as uber-elite, Stuyvesant seems to be the only high school the New York Times cares about. On June 4, Shapiro published her ten millionth front-page report about a remarkable fact:

Very few black and Hispanic kids score well enough on the citywide admission test to qualify for enrollment at Stuyvesant, or even at the other seven "elite" high schools in Gotham.

It's true that the enrollment figures at those schools are striking. They define a major American problem—a major problem in New York City and across the United States.

That said, Shapiro's reporting also defines a major problem. The well-connected cub reporter is remarkably skilled at a longstanding form of denialism—denial of the size of the achievement gaps which obtain across New York City and across the entire nation.

We've shown you the data a million times; we'll do so again below. That said, you will never see such data in the New York Times, or see such data discussed. The New York Times is deeply committed to denying that our giant achievement gaps actually exist. Denial of this major problem makes life that much easier for our uncaring and hapless upper class.

Shapiro's June 4 front-page report groaned beneath a load of denial techniques. How many ways can an uncaring, upper-class newspaper deny the size of those punishing gaps?

Let us list a few of the ways, scanning Shapiro's report:

Test prep:

Inevitably, we start with Shapiro's trademark form of denial—her ridiculous claim that New York City's achievement and enrollment gaps are caused by "test prep," full stop.

Back in March, she actually made this ludicrous claim on NPR's All Things Considered. In her June 4 report, Shapiro dialed the foolishness back, if only a tad.

Why do New York City's elite high schools enroll so few black and Hispanic kids? Early in her report, Shapiro described the eightfold rise in Gotham's Asian population from 1970 to 2011. Then, she told us this:
SHAPIRO (6/4/19): Much more has changed since New York’s most prized public schools began to look less like the city school system as a whole—and the explosion of test preparation may be the biggest shift.

Many specialized school alumni from the 1970s, '80s and '90s have said they do not remember taking any formal preparation for the entrance exam; a few recalled skimming a Barron's prep book a few weeks before the test.


Today, it is almost unheard-of for a current student to not have prepared for the test—often at the prep centers that have doubled in number in the past decade, to 436 in 2017. For example, Kaplan's most basic offering is eight group prep sessions for $1,000. Some students even take classes summer after summer during middle school.

The fight over how to integrate the specialized schools revolves in part around the ideal role of test prep: Some have argued that the city should expand its current free prep program for low-income students—while others have questioned whether directing middle school students to focus more on standardized tests is sound education policy.
Shapiro dials the foolishness back in that passage. She suggests only that test prep may be the biggest reason for the racial and ethnic enrollment patterns at the only high schools which matter.

That's an improvement over March, when test prep was presented as the only explanation for those startling enrollment patterns. That said, Shapiro has never attempted to answer a basic question:

How much does test prep actually help? How do we know that test prep actually helps at all?

Shapiro simply ignores such questions. Meanwhile, consider this:

In its on-line version of Shapiro's report, you can see that the New York Times has disappeared the passage in which Shapiro noted that New York City's public schools offer free test prep. That fact has been disappeared!

A cynic might think that the disappeared passage undermined the Times' preferred position, in which Gotham's astounding "enrollment gaps" are caused by such externalities as expensive test prep. In fact, there is no test prep for the Naep, and giant achievement gaps are observed all over the country on those federally-administered tests.

Those giant achievement gaps are already present in the first Naep testing, during Grade 4. Those giant gaps aren't caused by test prep—and they're seen all over the nation.

Gifted and Talented Education (GATE):

Ever since the 1960s, we pseudo-liberals have preferred to believe that the nation's achievement gaps are more accidental than real. We've always maintained that they have to result from some easily-remedied type of discrimination.

Way back when, it was racist teachers who were causing the gaps. Today, we like to blame test prep.

Test prep fits this bill! So does the absence or presence of "gifted and talented" programs.

As Shapiro explains away Gotham's stunning enrollment gaps, she moves directly from test prep to GATE. Black and Hispanic kids don't get into Stuyvesant High because they don't have access to GATE programs, she now says:
SHAPIRO (continuing directly): As test prep has become all but a prerequisite over the last decade, advanced academic classes have evaporated for many black and Hispanic students.

When Ademola Oyefeso saw that only a tiny number of black and Hispanic students were admitted into the specialized schools this year, he said he was ''twice mad.'' Mr. Oyefeso, 41, graduated from Brooklyn Tech in 1995 and grew up near the school.

''I was upset for those kids, because that's not the experience I had. And I was mad because, as a parent, I wondered how many black and brown kids were just left on the table because their parents didn't know how to get you into gifted and talented.''

Mr. Oyefeso, like nearly all the other alumni interviewed, attended an academically accelerated middle school. Today, only a few middle schools are considered feeders for specialized schools.
As this passage continues, it isn't just the absence of test prep which keeps black and Hispanic kids out of Stuyvesant High. It's also the unavailability of "gifted and talented" (GATE) programs.

In her typical imprecise way, Shapiro says these programs have "evaporated" for "many" black and Hispanic kids. That said, she never presents any data supporting her implied claim that GATE programs have been cut back for such kids. Instead, she offer this jumbled passage—and as she does, she evades a blindingly obvious point:
SHAPIRO (continuing directly): About ten years ago, former mayor Michael R. Bloomberg attempted to diversify gifted and talented classrooms by eliminating a system in which individual city school districts gave their own tests and replacing it with a citywide standardized exam backfired. But those programs soon shed even more black and Hispanic students.

Last year, there were nearly twice as many students in gifted and talented programs in District 2, which includes Manhattan's mostly white and wealthy Upper East Side and West Village, as there were in the Bronx, the city's poorest borough. Just 36 students in District 7, which includes the overwhelmingly poor and mostly Hispanic South Bronx, were enrolled in the district's sole gifted and talented program for elementary school.

The Bronx has nine gifted and talented programs in total while District 2 alone has eight, even though there are about 30 more schools serving elementary school grades in the Bronx than in Manhattan.

The fate of gifted and talented programs in New York is tied up in the broader question of how to integrate the entire system: Some families are calling for an expansion of gifted programs into every neighborhood, while others say academic tracking inherently leads to segregation and should be eliminated.
"Academic tracking should be eliminated?" Tomorrow, we'll start with that remarkable idea. For now, consider these points:

Nothing in that passage demonstrates Shapiro's implied claim that GATE programs have been cut back for black and Hispanic kids—have perhaps even "evaporated." Instead, Shapiro reports that there are more GATE programs in wealthy, white District 2 than there are in the low-income Bronx.

We're plainly meant to see this as a form of discrimination. In fact, it's obvious why there might be fewer GATE programs in low-income minority neighborhoods—it's because kids in those neighborhoods are on the short end of our nation's giant achievement gaps, from the early grades on.

As a general matter, GATE programs are instituted for kids who are working "above grade level," perhaps substantially so. For whatever reason, schools in the low-income Bronx will often have large numbers of deserving kids who may be years below "grade level" from the early grades on.

Stating the obvious, schools don't typically institute "advanced" academic programs for kids who are struggling badly with "grade level" work. It's also true that District 2 includes some selective, high-powered middle schools which only admit high-achieving fifth graders. You'll never read it in the Times, but the existence of such schools helps explain this claim:

"Today, only a few middle schools are considered feeders for specialized schools."

To the extent that that claim may be true, it's likely true, in large part, because those particular "feeder" schools enroll kids in a selective manner. They admitted the city's top academic performers after fifth grade, and those kids were then exposed to an advanced curriculum, as makes perfect sense.

It's obvious why schools of that type would end up sending a lot of kids to Gotham's "specialized high schools." This sort of thing is a mystery only in the Times.


Shapiro and her low-performing newspaper leave very few stones unturned as they attempt to deny the reality of our enormous achievement gaps.

By rule of law, the enrollment gaps at Stuyvesant High have to stem from some simple-minded form of discrimination. Inevitably, Shapiro began her June 4 pleadings with a complaint about "stereotyping."

At the start of her report, Shapiro quoted black and Hispanic adults who didn't have to compete with all those Asian kids back when they went to Gotham's most elite high schools. In this early passage, one such graduate complains about "stereotyping," even as she poses a question which Shapiro has already answered:
SHAPIRO: In interviews, more than a dozen black and Hispanic students who graduated from New York City's specialized high schools from 1975 to 1995 described the schools as oases for smart children from troubled neighborhoods. But the alumni said they were anguished that since their graduations, the schools have lost nearly all of their black and Hispanic students.

During those decades, Asian enrollment has ballooned while white enrollment has also fallen.
Among the most drastic shifts: Brooklyn Technical High School's black population dropped to 6 percent in 2016 from 51 percent in 1982.

Though the city has designated five other specialized high schools since 2002 in an attempt to integrate the elite schools, even the new schools have seen a drop-off in black and Hispanic enrollment over the last decade. Black and Hispanic students represent 70 percent of the school system, but they currently make up just 10 percent of the specialized schools.

When Ms. Lennon found out in March that only seven black students scored high enough on the specialized school entrance exam to receive an offer to attend Stuyvesant, she logged onto the school's alumni Facebook page. There, she found her own white and Asian classmates arguing that the decline was because black children did not work as hard as other students, or their parents did not care as much as others' did.

''It's not like I'm new to being black—I understand stereotypes exist,'' Ms. Lennon said. But this felt different.

''People are ignoring history,'' she added. ''No one is asking, what has happened?''
"What has happened?" the graduate asks. More specifically, why do Gotham's "specialized high schools" enroll so few black and Hispanic kids at this point in time?

Based on that passage and one which follows, the answer seems fairly obvious. Black and Hispanic kids have been supplanted by an influx of Asian kids whose academic performance is off the charts, in New York City itself but also nationwide.

(Shapiro: "From 1970 to 2011, the number of Asia-born immigrants living in New York City increased about eightfold to 843,000 from 105,000...The Asian population of the specialized schools includes Asian-Americans and Asia-born immigrants.")

Why is Stuyvesant's student body now 74 percent Asian? In the most straightforward sense, it's because our nation's Asian kids blow everybody else away in basic academic performance.

Below, you see some startling statistics from the 2017 Naep. The data display the yawning achievement gaps the virtue-signalers at the Times want to wish away.

These are nationwide statistics. They have nothing to do with test prep centers in District 2. They have nothing to do with the relative absence of GATE programs in the Bronx.

Beyond that, they have nothing to do with "stereotypes." These are basic informational data, and they define a national problem, a giant problem the New York Times keeps trying to deny and disappear:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
Public schools nationwide, 2017 Naep

White kids: 292.16
Black kids: 259.60
Hispanic kids: 268.49
Asian-American kids: 309.52
According to a standard but very rough rule of thumb, a ten-point difference on the Naep scale is roughly equivalent to one academic year.

Applying that very rough rule of thumb, the average Asian kid across the U.S. is something like five years ahead of his black counterpart by the time they're in eighth grade! That is a very rough estimate, but those achievement gaps are huge, and the Naep numbers are little different in New York City.

In the most obvious, straightforward sense, those numbers explain the startling enrollment patterns at Stuyvesant High, the only high school which matters. They also define a national problem, one the "limousine liberals" at the Times are eager to deny and disappear.

Shapiro keeps saying that our nation's giant achievement gaps are basically an illusion. Every time she tells you this, she and her hapless newspaper are throwing the vast majority of Gotham's black and Hispanic kids under a very large bus.

She's telling you a bogus old story. It's a way of avoiding a terrible national problem.

The Times doesn't seem to care about that problem, or about the kids on the short end of that particular stick, or about looking for ways to address it. We pseudo-liberals have been behaving this way for at least the past fifty years.

Tomorrow: The seven percent deception


  1. The book "The Bell Curve" was blasted as racist for including the true statement that average black scores on IQ tests are considerably lower than non-black scores. Political Correctness requires ignoring certain facts. Apparently the NY Times feels unable to report the gap between blacks, whites, and Asians. Sadly, the inability to address the real problem makes it more difficult to come up with real solutions.

    1. Poverty and racism are the reasons.
      Let me know when you're ready to whine about those facts.

    2. @david I’m Cal,
      In that case, there is absolutely no reason to bring up achievement gaps, since they simply reflect a law of nature, and they cannot be changed. In which case, Somerby is a cruel son of a bitch for continuing to bring them up.

    3. @10:15 - Asians, Mormons, and Jews suffered from poverty and bigotry, but they outperform whites.

      @10:50 - the reason to bring up achievement gaps is to find the real cause of the unequal academic results so that it can be cured.

    4. 1:42,
      Tell us all about the redlining and Jim Crow against Mormons, dembot zombie.

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