"Segregation" wherever you look: Long ago and far away, we visited a neighborhood elementary school in North Carolina's fourth most populous city.
We were there to attend the annual schoolwide spelling bee, in which a relative of ours, a third-grader at the time, would be competing that day. We'd visited the school three years before, spending an hour or two in this young person's kindergarten class.
Actually, it wasn't that long ago, or even that far away. We visited that kindergarten class in the spring of 2012 (we think).
"Teacher" made us read a story—one of their favorites, we were told—to the young scholars that day. We recall the faces of the two little girls who weren't yet speaking English.
We can still see another little girl—a little girl who was bilingual—scrambling over desks and chairs to cup her hands and whisper in the ear of one of these classmates, keeping her apprised of what was being said right there in her new classroom, which was also in her new country.
Our relative was the other girl who served as a translator in this kindergarten class. She could be "identified" several ways in our modern-day public school taxonomy, but if memory serves—the state of North Carolina used to provide more demographic information than it seems to provide today—the demographics of this school broke down much like this:
Student enrollment, Public School DBased on the standard data, this school was lower-income than the average North Carolina school. There were some professors' kids in the school, but there were also kids from public housing, along with some new arrivals who weren't yet speaking English.
White kids: 33 percent
Black kids: 33 percent
Hispanic kids: 33 percent
The day we attended the spelling bee, we thought we'd died and gone to heaven.
We'd assumed we'd be in a small room with some spelling bee contestants and a handful of parents. In fact, the spelling bee was conducted as a schoolwide assembly, with every kid in the school present in the auditorium.
Every kid in the school was there. As someone who spent a dozen years in the Baltimore schools of the 1970s and 1980s, we thought the atmosphere in the room was little short of amazing.
Children chattered arm in arm with other kids from the planet's various peoples. When the teacher on the stage introduced "your grade-by-grade spelling champions," the room went wild.
We thought we'd died and gone to heaven whenever we went to that school. Two years later, we attended another schoolwide bee (we'd been snowed out the year before); we ended up in an anteroom as the principal offered impressive remarks about the way the school had assembled reading materials for kids on all reading levels.
The last time the state let us know, this school was producing test results below North Carolina's averages. This tended to jibe with its income levels, but it struck us as amazing given the atmosphere of the school and the quality of what we'd heard that principal saying.
We thought we'd died and gone to heaven whenever we went to that school. Luckily, Professors Orfield and Kucsera were willing to tell us where we'd actually been.
As it turns out, our young relative had been consigned to a segregated school! We know that because, out in Westwood 90095, the professors have redefined the historically fraught term in the manner shown below.
They do so on page 32 of this widely-cited report:
KUCSERA AND ORFIELD (2014): We also explore school segregation patterns by the proportion or concentration of each racial group in segregated schools (50-100% of the student body are students of color), intensely segregated schools (90-100% of the student body are students of color), and apartheid schools (99-100% of the schools are students of color). Such schools, especially hypersegregated and apartheid schools[,] are nearly always associated with stark gaps in educational opportunity. To provide estimates of diverse environments, we calculate the proportion of each racial group in multiracial schools (schools with any three races representing 10% or more of the total student body).According to these conceptual giants, our "segregated schools" have come a long way, baby!
In Tuesday's report, we showed you what such schools looked like in the gruesome old days, when Governor Wallace issued his famous battle cry:
"Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!"
That was a more gruesome era. As we showed you yesterday, the "segregated schools" Wallace had in mind looked like these, as was required by law:
Student enrollment, Public School B (1963)That's what the term meant to Wallace. But now, we've truly come a long way. According to the Westwood Two, "segregation now" also looks like this:
White kids: 100 percent
Black kids: 0 percent
Student enrollment, Public School C (1963)
White kids: 0 percent
Black kids: 100 percent
Student enrollment, Public School D (2012)Somewhat strangely, that's "segregation" too. That's "segregation" now!
White kids: 33 percent
Black kids: 33 percent
Hispanic kids: 33 percent
Does it make sense to speak and think this way? We'd say it very clearly does 1) if you want to maintain use of the term "segregation" forever; and 2) if you want to keep electing people like Donald J. Trump.
According to the Westwood Two, a public school is "segregated" if 50 percent (or fewer) of its students are "white." To let you decide if you think that makes sense, let's consider some other examples.
Our tribe's ability to perform moral greatness has come a long way, baby! Thanks to our redefinition of terms, we can now mount the ramparts and declare these schools "segregated:"
Student enrollment, Public School EThanks to the professoriate, they're "segregated" now too! So, of course, are these schools:
White kids: 50 percent
Black kids: 50 percent
Student enrollment, Public School F
White kids: 40 percent
Black kids: 30 percent
Hispanic kids: 30 percent
Student enrollment, Public School GAt long last, it can be said! If a "black" kid gets stuck in Public School H, he or she has been consigned to a segregated school!
White kids: 25 percent
Black kids: 25 percent
Hispanic kids: 25 percent
Asian-American kids: 25 percent
Student enrollment, Public School H
White kids: 40 percent
Asian-American kids: 40 percent
Black kids: 20percent
Luckily, there are still some schools which aren't segregated. According to the professors' report, one such school would be this:
Student enrollment, Public School IAccording to the professors' text, that school isn't segregated! We need more schools like that!
White kids: 99 percent
Black kids: 1 percent
Public School I isn't segregated. Neither is Public School J:
Student enrollment, Public School JThat school isn't segregated either. Why can't we have more such schools?
White kids: 70 percent
Asian-American kids: 30 percent
Does it make sense when widely-cited "progressive" academics think and behave in these ways? In theory, opinions may differ.
On the bright side, such thinking lets us liberals engage in one of our favorite pastimes—performative moral grandeur. We get to steal valor from those who went before. We get to pretend that we are fighting the same brave fight against a famous old devil.
(As we'll see next week, we aren't.)
On the down side, behavior like this—and behavior like this is amazingly common among the professoriate—routinely exposes liberals and progressives to fairly convincing nationwide ridicule.
The Others can see how addled we are. They decide to go to the polls and vote for Donald J. Trump. That's how stupid The Others are, just as they always have been!
For what it's worth, leading anthropologists say that our species was always wired to think and behave in such tribalized ways. These experts report to us from the years which follow the global conflagration they glumly describe as Mister Trump's War. They speak to us through nocturnal submissions which the haters refer to as dreams.
We liberals will be inclined to say that the professors have good intentions. We live a long way from Westwood 90059, so it's hard for us to tell.
That said, the professors' decision to redefine the world does have a (darkly) comical aspect. We'll explore that found humor tomorrow, but our award-winning exploration will derive from data like these:
United States student enrollment, September 2014Oh. Our. God. Perhaps you can see where those data start to take us:
White kids: 24.9 million (49.5%)
Black kids: 7.8 million (15.5%)
Hispanic kids: 12.8 million (25.4%)
Asian-American kids: 2.6 million (5.2%)
Biracial kids: 1.6 million (3.2%)
Native American kids: 0.5 million (0.9%)
Total enrollment: 50.3 million
The professors issued their report in March 2014. If a school was less than 50 percent white, that school was "segregated."
Six months later, the nation's students went back to school and the NCES called the roll. As you can see from those national data, those students were living in a nation where the average public school was now less than half white!
"Segregation forever," Governor Wallace declared. When he made this stirring statement, he was referring to the practice of segregation.
He wanted to keep the practice forever. Fetishizing a highly fraught term, the professors have turned a somewhat similar trick with the word "segregation."
"Every man a king," Huey Long once said. In a perfect, racially balanced world, every school would now be "segregated!" Or so the professors now said.
Tomorrow: Unintentional humor amid a journey to Lake Wobegon
All next week: Why in the world does the state of New York have "the most segregated schools?"