SEARCH FOR TOMORROW: Carranza's attempts to improve instruction...

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 28, 2019

...are mentioned in graf 32:
The New York Times' self-ballyhooed, new "major initiative" is deeply involved with the past.

If we might coin an original phrase, it seems that the past isn't simply un-dead. It isn't even past!

The traffic jam you sat in today may have been the result of American slavery! According to leading top-rated experts, such approaches to history are sometimes called "uber-reductive."

That doesn't mean that the work the Times will publish as part of The 1619 Project may not be informative and constructive. Presumably, some of the work will be superb. Some of it probably won't be.

That said, who but the self-impressed New York Times would undertake such a project? Within our modern political history, the Times is best known for such journalistic achievements as these:

Through a set of bungled front-page reports, the Times invented the Whitewater pseudo-scandal, which lent its name to a crackpot political era.

Katherine Boo warned the world about the dangers of "Creeping Dowdism" when Maureen Dowd was still just a front-page reporter. In 1995, the Times made Dowd a columnist anyway.

Thirteen years later,
a Times public editor finally savaged Dowd for the relentless misogyny she'd brought to her treatment of Candidate Hillary Clinton. She'd slimed many others before that, not excluding the balding Al Gore, and including the stunning insults she'd directed at Howard Dean's hopelessly under-styled wife.

Most recently, the brilliant newspaper decided to stage an anguished staff meeting because editors had managed to bungle a single front-page headline. Now, this puzzling collection of Hamptons four-day weekend types have announced that they plan to "reframe th[is] country’s history," skillfully reconfiguring "the story we tell ourselves."

That traffic jam is Atlanta today is part of that reframed history. And who knows? The Times may even get around to re-explaining the crazy decision the newspaper made to retell the ridiculous, hopelessly bungled story of Uranium One during the Trump-Clinton campaign!

They told that hopelessly bungled story at a length of 4400 words, teaming with a right-wing crackpot to do so. Today, they plan to retell the whole of American story, starting with the tragic events of the year 1619.

Almost surely, some of that work will be instructive and useful. On balance, though, this project's work may not be helpful at all. For an example of the newspaper's frequently cockeyed, quasi-ideological focus, consider last Saturday's front-page report on Richard Carranza's first year as head of New York City's schools.

Carranza was named chancellor of the New York City Public Schools in April 2018. He was serving as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District at that time. We assume he's a good, decent person.

Last Saturday, the Times' kid reporter, Eliza Shapiro, wrote a lengthy assessment of Carranza's first year in New York. Her lengthy report appeared on the Times' front page.

All in all, Shapiro's profile of Carranza's first year may not have seemed all that flattering. Needless to say, Carranza had accepted a deeply challenging job when he came to New York. In the baldest formulation, he'd accepted the task of directing a giant school system with such achievement gaps as these:
Average scores, Grade 8 math
New York City Public Schools, Naep 2017

White kids: 290.71
Black kids: 259.60
Hispanic kids: 263.56
Asian-American kids: 306.03

U.S. public schools, all students: 281.96
U.S. public schools, white kids only: 292.16
For all Naep data, start here. But the gaps are extremely large in Gotham, as they are across the nation.

Based on a very rough rule of thumb, the average white kid in New York City's public schools is three years ahead of his black counterpart in math by the end of eighth grade.

The average white kid nationwide scored a bit better than that. Asian kids in New York City left everyone else in the dust.

No one could expect Carranza, or anyone else, to transform this state of affairs in his first year on the job, presumably by improving the performance of the black and Hispanic kids. Still and all, Shapiro made it sound like Carranza had possibly earned an F for effort in his inaugural year:
SHAPIRO (8/24/19): [S]ome educators say that Mr. Carranza also urgently needs to address the uneven performance of schools across the system.

[Mayor] de Blasio canceled a $773 million school improvement program, known as Renewal, after it was unable to turn around many long-struggling schools, and Mr. Carranza has not created an alternative initiative for the dozens of lowest-performing schools.

David Bloomfield, a professor of education at Brooklyn College, said Mr. Carranza’s “impact on the classroom at this point seems insignificant.”
We'll discuss one key word in that passage—"also"—in tomorrow's report. That said, this account makes Carranza's first year sound a bit underwhelming.

As she continued, Shapiro let the chancellor defend himself. Here's what Shapiro reported:
SHAPIRO (continuing directly): Looking back on his first year, the chancellor said in an interview that he had made significant strides in improving education for students learning English, and in reorganizing the Department of Education’s vast bureaucracy. He said he had put in a new discipline code that was intended to limit in-school arrests for students of color, who he said were disproportionate targets of policing in schools.

This week, the city announced that student test scores rose modestly during the chancellor’s first year on the job.

“There’s a lot of work that’s happening that I’m very proud of,” Mr. Carranza said.
Did Carranza somehow "ma[k]e significant strides in improving education for students learning English?" We have no way of knowing, and the New York Times will never examine such a boring and tedious topic.

Beyond that, Carranza was quoted saying that he'd reorganized the system's bureaucracy and had tried "to limit in-school arrests for students of color."

One paragraph later, he said his attempts at improvement "will not stick if the city does not address a more basic set of problems." Some of those problems were named:
SHAPIRO: The city’s school bus system, for example, suffered a major crisis last year when drivers could not complete new routes, leaving thousands of students stranded. This week, Mr. Carranza announced GPS tracking on city buses. And the city’s strained special education system appears to be reaching a breaking point; tens of thousands of students with disabilities are not receiving the services they need.
Something went wrong with the city's bus system. Also, the city's special education system was described as an ongoing mess, an ongoing mess which Carranza himself apparently hasn't addressed.

As this discussion unfolded, nothing was said about those giant, punishing achievement gaps, or about the types of classroom instruction which might imaginably start to address them.

The bus system failed, and special ed stinks. But what about standard classroom instruction? What can be brought to bear upon those large, punishing gaps?

As quoted, Carranza didn't address such points, not did Shapiro seem to have raised them. In truth, no one within our major news orgs seems to care about such matters, or about the kids on the short end of those punishing gaps. Again and again, these facts are made abundantly clear by Rachel Maddow's topic selection, but also by the New York Times' "education reporting."

Shapiro's account of Carranza's first year didn't sound all that inspiring. The chancellor's "impact on the classroom at this point seems insignificant,” or so said the one education expert she quoted on this subject.

Shapiro's account seemed unflattering. But there's something about the profile we've quoted which is even more striking than the apparent lack of big ideas brought to the city's classrooms:

The account we've posted didn't begin until paragraph 32 of Shapiro's lengthy front-page report!

Carranza took control of a giant school system with giant achievement gaps. One year later, his "impact on the classroom" was said to be insignificant.

You'd almost think that this might be the focus of Shapiro's report. But Shapiro's focus on the public schools also ties her to the past, in a way which is reminiscent of the possible reductive overreach of The 1619 Project.

At this site, we'll recommend that decent people conduct a search for tomorrow concerning our public schools. You could call it The 2024 Project. It would be a search for ways to improve the lives of the children who will be born today, the children who will enter Gotham's kindergartens in that onrushing year.

We'd recommend a search for tomorrow and a focus on those gurgling, squirming children. That said, Shapiro's reporting on public schools caries an unmistakable 1619 air. And no, her obsessive focus on past offenses is neither well-reported nor helpful.

What was Shapiro doing for 31 paragraphs before she offered the analysis we've quoted? She was musing about the brutal past, while once again helping us see the New York Times' moral grandeur.

This paper has bungled again and again as our political culture had slid toward the sea. Tomorrow, we'll suggest that a vast indifference, and an unhelpful self-regard, informed the puzzling 31 paragraphs which started last weekend's report.

Tomorrow: Just repeat the magic word and you'll win a hundred dollars!

18 comments:

  1. "...to retell the ridiculous, hopelessly bungled story of Uranium One..."

    You sound like you're only pissed-off at the zombie media when they pinch (however gently) your zombie VIPs, dear Bob.

    But when they run 'Orange Man Bad' non-stop for years, you don't mind it too much. And not only that, you even feel obliged to add your own smears.

    How mighty liberal of you, dear Bob...

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    Replies
    1. Mao bad, bad Mao, bad bad Mao.

      Delete
    2. 10:37,
      You should alternate your whiny, victimization posts with those calling the Left "snowflakes", to heighten the hypocrisy.

      Delete
    3. Hello everyone i Am williams pater and i am from USA i am here to give my testimony about an herbal doctor called Dr,olu I was heartbroken because i had very small penis,not nice to satisfy a woman, i have been in so many relationship, but cut off because of my situation, i have used so many product which doctors prescribe for me, but could not offer me the help i searched for. i saw some few comments on the internet about this specialist called Dr,OLU and decided to email him on his email i saw on the internet,(drolusolutionhome@gmail.com ) so I decided to give his herbal product a try. i emailed him and he got back to me, he gave me some comforting words with his herbal product for Penis Enlargement, Within three weeks of me use it, i began to feel the enlargement, " and now it just 4 weeks of using his products my penis is about 8 inches longer, and i had to settle thing out with my ex girlfriend , i was surprised when she said that she is satisfied with my performance in bed and i now have a large penis.thanks to DR OLU for is herbal product. you can also reach him with emsil  drolusolutionhome@gmail.com though is..number WHATASPP him today on this number [ +2348140654426 ]   
























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  2. Somerby doesn't tell us that the NY Times article is about Carranza's failure to desegregate the schools during his first year. If that sentence in paragraph 32 says he hasn't done much, that statement must surely be read in the context of the article's headline about desegregation.

    Those of us who do not want to pay for a NY Times subscription cannot play this game with Somerby, where he disappears the context and fails to tell us what those first 31 paragraphs were about. From our perspective, it seems like Carranza did plenty.

    The first year for a new business executive is spent getting one's feet under the desk -- that means learning the ropes, who is who, figuring out what the job entails. No one expects much during that learning period. In Carranza's case, it seems like both Somerby and Shapiro expect a great deal.

    Not only do they expect too much (in my opinion) but they expect changes to show up in test scores. Carranza made changes in many areas (bus routes, policing and discipline, English language learning) that will not show up directly in test scores despite making life easier for many students. English language learners are excluded from NAEP participation. But these are ALSO important in the lives of students, as will a district reorganization. Changing the district is bound to temporarily disrupt school activities with the hope that there will be benefits down the line -- but how can that show up in test scores at the end of only a year? These are unreasonable expectations.

    Shapiro seems to expect that it should take only a year to desegregate the schools. It sounds to me like Carranza's priorities are different and he is focused on more immediate needs (GPS on buses for example) and it is his job to select priorities, not Shapiro's and certainly not Somerby's. He doesn't have a horse in this race, living in Baltimore and having no kids. One wonders why he is on this tirade -- are Baltimore's schools integrated? Are there no gaps in Baltimore? Or does he have a hard on for De Blasio?

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. 10:43 PM writes:

      Those of us who do not want to pay for a NY Times subscription cannot play this game with Somerby, where he disappears the context and fails to tell us what those first 31 paragraphs were about.

      You keep acting like you're entitled to have Somerby spoon feed you all of the contents of the New York Times articles he comments about. Read the articles your own self and stop making the phony excuse that it's your lack of an unnecessary Times subscription which is keeping you from accessing them. It's just your own laziness that can get in the way of your reading them.

      And then there's your transparently false claim that you, whom you refer to as "those of us," "cannot play this game with Somerby." Truth is, you can't stop yourself from playing, you're here in these threads constantly.

      If you ever have a useful point to make why don't you do that but, in the meantime, spare these threads
      of any more of your "woe is me" clutter.

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    3. Cmike’s indictment seems a bit harsh to me. If you don’t want to go to the library to read the NYT for a cyber-hobby like this commentariat, that seems reasonable to me.

      The neatly folded pile of excrement that is the NYT arrives encased in its protective blue plastic sleeve daily at my house. About three years ago, I managed to stop the daily shit delivery, but, alas, that lasted only a couple of months. Central Purchasing overruled my objections. So I’ll make you a deal: I’ll summarize for you whatever TDH cites but doesn’t fully quote.

      But I doubt you’ll take me up on that offer because you apparently don’t need to read the article to make judgments about it.

      If that sentence in paragraph 32 says he hasn't done much, that statement must surely be read in the context of the article's headline about desegregation.

      No. That paragraph is a quote from a professor: “David Bloomfield, a professor of education at Brooklyn College, said Mr. Carranza’s ‘impact on the classroom at this point seems insignificant.’” And, fair or not, it’s a general indictment.

      From our perspective, it seems like Carranza did plenty.

      You mean from your perspective of having not read the article? But the problem is that it’s impossible to tell what Carranza has done. Shapiro tells us nothing; she merely quotes Carranza telling us that he done things.

      No one expects much during that learning period [an executive’s first year]. In Carranza's case, it seems like both Somerby and Shapiro expect a great deal.

      It’s hard to know what Shapiro expects, although she spends a lot of time documenting Carranza’s problems and setbacks. But it’s easy to know what TDH expects. He tells you up front: “No one could expect Carranza, or anyone else, to transform this state of affairs in his first year on the job,….” How could you have missed that?

      Carranza made changes in many areas (bus routes, policing and discipline, English language learning)….

      And you know that how? Carranza claimed to have made changes in these areas, but Shapiro doesn’t bother to check those claims.

      Shapiro seems to expect that it should take only a year to desegregate the schools. It sounds to me like Carranza's priorities are different and he is focused on more immediate needs….

      It sounds like to you? But you didn’t read the article. In fact, Shapiro’s quotes make it sound like desegregation is both Carranza’s top priority or a cosmetic feature in his eyes.

      [Somerby] doesn't have a horse in this race,….

      Let me remind you that the “race” is about reporting on education. TDH doesn’t need to live in NYC or have kids himself to comment on the issue.

      Or does he have a hard on for De Blasio?

      TDH contemns the NYT in general and its reporting on education in particular. He didn’t mention de Blasio.

      .————
      We hope you enjoyed this example of uncultured impudence and lower middle class ignorance™

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    4. "If you don’t want to go to the library to read the NYT..." there is a simple paywall workaround which allows anyone to read as many Times articles for free as they care to each month from any home computer with internet access.

      Delete
    5. 10:43/5:34 Uninteresting blatherer responds to uninteresting blatherer.

      Thanks for nothing cretins.

      Delete
    6. Don't kid a kidder, Sparky. If you were really uninterested, you'd have just quit reading when you got tired of sounding out the big words.

      Delete
  3. What was Katherine Boo objecting to in Dowd's work when she referred to "creeping Dowdism"? Here is a good summary:

    https://spectator.org/40891_lingua-crapa/

    This is not the same problem as the NY Times articles about Uranium One and similar hit jobs on the Clintons based on right-wing smear campaigns (posing as books).

    Dowd's offense is that she and other journalists have put themselves into the story by adopting what Boo calls a cowardly stance of irony and an assault on sincerity that ultimately resulted in Hillary (who embodies earnestness in public service) being portrayed as cynically dishonest.

    One can ask what Somerby's stance is these days. Like Dowd and her imitators, he uses linguistic devices to avoid responsibility for expressing any opinions while he engages in overly cute posturing that patronizes whoever he targets, whether school administrators or journalists or our political process. In a time when we urgently need to call out both Republicans and our President, Somerby continues to hide behind language, pretending that mental illness is the same as treason, greed and incompetence. He is no better than Dowd and a lot worse than Shapiro and her brethren at the NY Times.

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  4. Monday was Women's Equality Day, commemorating when women attained the vote in the US, and no one in the media mentioned it.

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  5. It's wrong to measure the gap as between white, Hispanic, black and Asian. The real gap is between students of unequal abilities. A gap that compared, say, the top 15% vs. the bottom 15% would be seen to be wider than the gap between Asians and blacks.

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    Replies
    1. "the top 15% vs. the bottom 15%"

      Yes. This is simple common sense.

      Except that for the most part it probably isn't about 'abilities', but a whole bunch of factors, the main one being their social environment.

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    2. this is a pretty interesting and unusually accurate response for Mao

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