SEARCH FOR TOMORROW: "One of the most segregated school systems!"

FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2019

Where do novels come from:
With its pre-ballyhooed 1619 Project, the New York Times has decided to "reframe" American history in a particular way.

Some of the work which emerges from that project will probably be quite worthwhile. We'll guess that some of the work will perhaps be somewhat less so.

The project may perhaps betray a bit of an obsessive, super-reductive focus. Every bird which falls from the sky, every traffic jam in Atlanta, will be connected to the brutal history of American slavery.

On balance, this may or may not be constructive. That said, the Times has been taking a somewhat similar approach in its reporting on the state of New York City's public schools.

The Times seems to care about just one thing—the alleged "entrenched segregation" on display in Gotham's 1800 schools, which serve 1.1 million students. Starting with its choice of language, the Times is taking a powerful turn to the past, to a time when "segregated schools" were an unfortunate blight on the world in a thoroughly straightforward way.

Today, the Times crusades against "segregation" in Gotham's schools without ever quite explaining what the term should be taken to mean in the current context. This is about as close as the Times' Eliza Shapiro ever comes:
SHAPIRO (8/24/19): New York [City] is home to one of the most segregated school systems in the country. Black and Hispanic students make up 70 percent of the system, and white and Asian students represent about 15 percent each. About three-quarters of students are low income, and roughly half the city’s schools are more than 90 percent black or Hispanic.
"Roughly half the city’s schools are more than 90 percent black or Hispanic." In a sprawling school system with Gotham's overall student enrollment, that may, or may not, seem like a surprising fact.

At any rate, that seems to be what Shapiro and her newspaper mean when they say that Gotham's schools are "segregated." Before we're done, we'll try to show you the source of Shapiro's dramatic, much-beloved claim—the claim that Gotham's school system is "one of the most segregated school systems in the country."

First, a word about what we may lose when we dwell so much in the past:

Shapiro's courageous fight against "segregation" seems to connect her to the historical era in which remarkable people led a real fight against the total separation of public school students on the basis of their so-called race.

In this iconic painting, Norman Rockwell portrayed this as The Problem We All Live With. The painting reminds us of the actual dangers real people confronted during that non-imaginary historical era.

(As that painting reminds us, some those remarkable people were children.)

Today, things are somewhat different. Kids from different "racial" and ethnic groups attend school together in New York City every day of the week, weekend days excluded. It's also true that this undertaking, such as it is, results in data like 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
Those data seem to define gigantic "achievement gaps" between different groups of students. But rather plainly, Shapiro and her dim-witted newspaper don't care about that.

The New York Times goes a hundred miles out of its way to avoid reporting, or discussing, those data and those gaps. In this very year, Shapiro went on NPR's All Things Considered and rather plainly seemed to say that the gaps in New York City are the result of "test prep," full stop.

A person can't make a dumber remark, or one more dismissive and cruel.

Hundreds of thousand of good, decent kids lie on the short end of those punishing gaps. The Times refuses to acknowledge those kids' very existence, let alone attempt to discuss the ways those gaps could imaginably be addressed.

How would we address those gaps? Before we show you where Shapiro gets her iconic claim about Gotham's schools, we'll briefly address your question:

First, you can't begin to address those gaps without reporting the fact that they exist. Those gaps are embarrassing, but they're real, and so are the good, decent kids on the short end of those gaps.

Shapiro pretends that those gaps don't exist, except for all those devious Asians paying for all that test prep. (The Times' Mara Gay is so deep inside this ancient slander that she might as well start building the new internment camps.)

In pretending that the gaps don't exist, the Times pretends that the struggling kids who produce them don't exist. At the Times, they don't exist because they won't end up at Stuyvesant High.

How might those gaps be addressed? For ourselves, we'd start with Candidate Clinton's discussion of the 30 million-word "word gap," part of her campaign's Too Small to Fail component.

Because it was boring and dealt with black and Hispanic kids, Too Small to Fail generated zero interest from the Times, or from anyone else, during the 2016 campaign. That said, the "word gap" deals with children's experiences long before they arrive in school—with the disadvantages lower-income kids from lower-literacy backgrounds may bring with them to kindergarten.

We're curious about the current state of research and analysis concerning the alleged "word gap" and its effects. Needless to say, the New York Times will never examine a topic like that. It's boring, and it involves kids who won't end up at Yale.

Beyond that, we'd wonder what Gotham's lower-income kids do during their kindergarten year. After that, we'd wonder about their grade school instruction.

We'd wonder if they're presented with textbooks which they can actually read. We'd wonder if they're surrounded by mountains of "outside interest" books for their personal reading.

We'd wonder if those mountains of books were both readable and geared to kids' actual interests. We'd wonder of kids were given plenty of time to lay on their backs with their friends, reading those books aloud to each other, something kids from middle-class backgrounds are more likely to do in their homes.

We'd wonder if kids who are "several years behind" in math are asked to do too much, rather than too little. For obvious reasons, we don't ask suburban eighth-graders to study an MIT engineering curriculum. We'd wonder if kids who are "several years behind" are being similarly overwhelmed in their Gotham classrooms, becoming more confused in the process.

There are many other questions we'd ask, but you won't read about any of this in the New York Times. At present, the New York Times is interested in Gotham's black and Hispanic kids 1) as a way to let the Times showcase its vast moral greatness, and 2) as a group from which a few more kids can be routed to Stuyvesant High.

Among those 800,000 kids, the Times doesn't know, and doesn't care, about anything or anyone else. The Times postures and preens about the need to tinker with diversity numbers in a handful of schools—a process it calls "desegregation"—and it shows no sign of giving a fig about anything or anyone else.

With what degree of journalistic brilliance does the Times approach this task? Let's return to that stirring claim, the one Shapiro's editors so love:
"New York [City] is home to one of the most segregated school systems in the country."
The New York Times thrills its tribal readers each time it advances that claim. But is that statement actually true? And what does that claim even mean?

Briefly, can we talk? This thrilling claim seems a bit hard to credit, given what most people might sensibly take the terms "segregation" and "integration" to mean.

Phoning in from the Hamptons of a Thursday evening, the Times is deeply invested in bringing "integration" to Gotham's public schools. That said, how much "integration" could possibly be taking place in the big urban systems listed below?

We're showing you the percentage of white kids enrolled in these large school systems. Given normal understanding of the term, how much integration could he happening inside these large systems"
"White" enrollment, U.S. public school systems
Los Angeles: 9%
Chicago: 9%
Miami/Dade County: 6.7%
Houston: 8.9%
Dallas: 5.1%
San Antonio: 2%

Hartford: 9%
Newark: 7%
Trenton: 2%
Baltimore: 7.8%
Washington DC: 10%
Richmond: 8%
Atlanta: 13%

Detroit: 2%
Kansas City, Mo.: 9%
Memphis: 7%
Birmingham: 1%
Jackson: 1%
New Orleans: 9%

Laredo: 0%
Brownsville: 1%
El Paso: 9%

Oakland: 8%
San Francisco: 11%
Stockton: 7%
Fresno: 8.8%
We're taking most of our numbers from Professor Reardon's study, as presented by the New York Times.

Those numbers are several years out of date. But given normal understandings of the term, how much "integration" do you think is going on in those public school systems? How about in these satellite cities?
"White" enrollment, U.S. public school systems
Camden, N.J.: 1%
Gary, Ind.: 1%
East St. Louis, Mo. 0%
Compton, Calif.: 0%
However much we may be able to imagine something better and finer, our nation's urban school systems are heavily black and Hispanic by student enrollment. Inevitably, we have to look for the best ways to serve black and Hispanic kids in public school classrooms where Wally and the Beaver won't be present.

Wally and the Beaver have pretty much left the building! But given the most basic data from which all understanding starts, very little conventional "integration" is even possible in many school districts, or will be in the future.

That said, what are the odds that the New York City Public Schools is "one of the most segregated school systems in the country?" What does the Times even mean by this claim, which it repeats again and again?

What does the New York Times mean by this claim? Where does this pleasing claim come from?

We'll answer your question tomorrow. The answer will show the standards observed by our modern liberal elites, journalistic and academic, in the construction of the novels which keep our tribe well pleased.

On the bright aide, the answer to this question comes with a comical side. Sometimes, you do have to laugh. But we'll also be saying this:

Sad!

Tomorrow: Seeking the source of the Nile

26 comments:

  1. "The project may perhaps betray a bit of an obsessive, super-reductive focus. Every bird which falls from the sky, every traffic jam in Atlanta, will be connected to the brutal history of American slavery."

    Isn't this fiction about a report that hasn't appeared yet an example of where novels come from?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, who do you think has to clean up all those birds?

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  2. Somerby has never addressed the FACT that integration of schools helps reduce those achievement gaps.

    Instead he says: "Those data seem to define gigantic "achievement gaps" between different groups of students. But rather plainly, Shapiro and her dim-witted newspaper don't care about that."

    Rather plainly, Shapiro and her dim-witted newspaper are both arguing to an improvement that has been shown to help decrease gaps in performance between white and minority kids. Shapiro and the NY Times have been consistent and noisy in their attempts to improve things for kids in NYC.

    What has Somerby done? He has name-called, like he does today, and he has argued that integration is hopeless and that kids are already attempting school with kids of other races (because the black kids are attending with Hispanic kids, presumably) and resolutely ignoring the point that when white kids attend a school, the resources follow and education improves for all at that school.

    Just as Somerby cannot understand why Trump is doing so much to help Putin, I cannot understand why Somerby is so adamant about attacking a newspaper that is supporting a measure with demonstrable results in reducing those intransigent gaps. He says he cares about kids. I see no evidence of that.

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    1. “Somerby has never addressed the FACT that integration of schools helps reduce those achievement gaps.”

      That might be due to the FACT that it isn’t a fact, or at least not a simple one. It’s the money, stupid, not the social engineering.

      From “LONG-RUN IMPACTS OF SCHOOL DESEGREGATION & SCHOOL QUALITY ON ADULT ATTAINMENTS”
      (https://www.nber.org/papers/w16664.pdf)

      “I find that blacks’ adult attainments increased significantly with both the amount of induced increase in school spending and the duration of desegregation exposure, with no apparent dose-response in the amount of racial integration resultant from court orders. Desegregation had no effects on whites’ adult outcomes, in neither the duration of exposure nor the intensity of treatment. The results suggest that the mechanisms through which school desegregation led to beneficial adult attainment outcomes for
      blacks include improvement in access to school resources reflected in reductions in class size and increases in per-pupil spending.”

      “A large body of literature examines the effects of school spending on academic performance and educational attainment (Hanushek, 1997; Hedges, Greenwald, and Laine, 1994). While evidence is mixed on the extent to which school resources matter, the results of this paper are in line with Card and Krueger (1992) and other recent studies that use randomized and quasi-random variation in school inputs (e.g., Jackson, Johnson, Persico, 2015; Chetty et al, 2013; Fredrikkson et al, 2012). Jackson, Johnson, Persico (2015), using evidence from court-ordered school finance reforms, find that, for children from low- income families, a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending throughout one’s K-12 years leads to 0.46 additional years of completed education, 9.6 percent higher earnings, and a 6.1 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of adult poverty. ”

      “Experimental evidence from the Tennessee Project Star class size intervention demonstrates that black students benefited about twice as much as whites from being assigned to a small class.”

      An analysis of the effects of the end of busing in Charlotte, NC, when accompanied by greatly increased investment in majority-black schools, found very similar results.

      Forced desegregation in NYC will inevitably cause even greater middle-class flight (including by blacks), lower per pupil school funding, and worse results for the low-income minorities (but definitely NOT including Chinese-Americans) left behind. When one doesn’t understand a problem, most attempts to fix it will make it worse.

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    2. Where's your proof of this alleged fact?

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    3. Sad sac - what's the per student expenditure for NYC students compared to suburban (wealthy suburban and more middle class suburban) or rural schools? I don't know, but I think that is relevant. To what extent is black underachievement due to poverty and the consequence of dysfunctional families, as opposed to the quality of the schools and teachers?

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  3. "What does the Times even mean by this claim, which it repeats again and again?"

    Oh Bob, dear Bob, we know exactly what it means: 'in the next election, go and vote for the zombie cult leader. Because we care...'

    If you have to ask, either you're being disingenuous or you really were born yesterday...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mao and Somerby have the same birthday? Does that make them twins?

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    2. Mao must have a pathetic life, staying on his computer so that he can be the first to post for the umpteenth time a comment with zombie and dembot in it.

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    3. 12:15,
      Save your tears. Mao is paid by the Establishment to run interference for them. In that way, he's like the corporate owner media, but on a smaller scale.

      Delete
    4. Mao belongs to a narrow subset - communists for Trump. This is plain from some of his previous posts. E.g., citing Gramsci's Prison Diaries as instructive on how the establishment 'liberal' press brainwashes the masses of naïve liberals; and praising Stalin and Mao (the other Mao) for their great accomplishments.

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  4. Racists don't seem to care whether the people they malign are Hispanic, Asian or African American. They lump all of these groups together, for most purposes. For example, among the people who live in Puerto Rico, some are brown-skinned and some are black, and sometimes kids vary in skin color within the same family. The same is true for those who have come to New York City. Somerby seems not to know that, as he makes a facetious remark about black and brown kids attending school with different races, as if that were some form of integration. In doing this, he ignores that the point for racists is not which minorities intermingle but that white people remain separate from people with all of the other skin colors, maintaining their Aryan purity.

    For Somerby, it seems to be enough that Asian kids and Hispanic kids and black kids all attend the same schools. And if white kids happened to attend, tracking would maintain the separation, so there is no point in even trying (despite opportunities to intermix on sports teams and in drama club, at school dances and in non-tracked activities).

    But I just cannot figure out why Somerby is arguing that the NY Times is dim-witted and reporters are stupid for supporting integration efforts, and why the existence of gaps is evidence AGAINST such efforts and not support for them. Somerby couldn't be working any harder to derail integration if he were a card-carrying Proud Boy himself.

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    Replies
    1. Idiot. No white parents worry about Asian students in their children's schools. The reason being blatantly obvious, when you look at student achievement or crime rates.

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    2. But I just cannot figure out why Somerby is arguing that the NY Times is dim-witted and reporters are stupid for supporting integration efforts,….

      Not so much dimwitted and stupid as uncaring, unprepared, and uninterested. And just for the record, reporters aren’t supposed to be “supporting” anything. They’re supposed to be informing readers, a task the NYT has pretty much abandoned.

      But I just cannot figure out why … the existence of gaps is evidence AGAINST such efforts and not support for them.

      The existence of gaps is evidence that the schools are systematically failing to help those on the lower end of the scale. The evidence against campaigns to “integrate” schools is that it’s not possible. (The scare quotes indicate that in this context the word means having a significant number of white students attend classes with their non-white peers.)

      Do you see a path to the “integration” of the NYC public school system? Let’s assume that as studies show, such a goal is an unalloyed good. Take into account the percentage of white students in attendance, the Supreme Court strictures on the ability of officials to take race into account in their plans, and the history of the unremitting hostility of white parents to having their children sit beside non-white students in classrooms.

      Show your work. Take into account the law of unintended consequences. Extra credit for partial answers.

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

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    3. 1:33,
      Looking at crime rates, you make a compelling argument that white parents would want their kids to go to school with immigrant children rather than American born.

      Delete
  5. Notice the fancy dress worn by the young girl in that Rockwell painting. It is traditional for parents of minority children to dress their kids in their finest clothes during the early weeks of school, so that they will make a good impression on their new teachers and receive the positive attention available for teachers to give students. Minority parents understand the importance of encouraging the teacher to like and think well of their kids, to regard them as worth teaching effort, even if it means spending hard-earned money to give their kids that advantage. It is poignant that Rockwell captures that tactic and that it is so necessary for minority parents to do this. Poised against the picture of futility that Somerby paints, the poignancy is more acute.

    What is wrong with this man?

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    Replies
    1. How about we stick with what's wrong with this man's claims? TDH says that "integrating" a school system like NYC's is not feasible. Do you have a plan that contradicts him?

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  6. "The answer will show the standards observed by our modern liberal elites, journalistic and academic, in the construction of the novels which keep our tribe well pleased."

    Is Somerby going to show us that the NYC schools are already integrated? Is he going to argue that they aren't as bad as the newspaper says and therefore nothing more should be done? How exactly is it a novel to claim that the schools need to be more integrated or does Somerby think this is an all-or-nothing argument in which the slightest disagreement about statistics invalidates the entire argument about the benefit of integration in reducing gaps?

    This whole discussion illustrates a kind of futility that is much worse than the NY Times efforts to help kids -- it reflects Somerby's nihilism about topics of race and education, in which he seems to want to give up on black kids but knows that isn't an acceptable solution, so he just attacks everyone else's efforts.

    He needs to crawl into a corner and suck his thumb -- because what he writes here every day is doing no one any good, aside from the slight aid and comfort offered to white supremacists and similar bigots.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is Somerby going to show us that the NYC schools are already integrated?

      By the standard of percentage white students and percentage non-white students? Of course not. Where did you get that idea?

      Is he going to argue that they aren't as bad as the newspaper says

      Of course not. The newspaper is quoting the school district’s figures.

      and therefore nothing more should be done?

      Of course not. TDH even outlines in this very blog entry what he thinks might be done to close the gaps. He doesn’t think that it’s possible to “integrate” NYC’s public schools. Do you?

      How exactly is it a novel to claim that the schools need to be more integrated

      It’s not novel. It’s about all the NYT talks about when it comes to education.

      or does Somerby think this is an all-or-nothing argument in which the slightest disagreement about statistics invalidates the entire argument about the benefit of integration in reducing gaps?

      What disagreement about statistics? And TDH has said that it would be better if schools weren’t racially isolated..

      This whole discussion illustrates a kind of futility that is much worse than the NY Times efforts to help kids

      The NYT isn’t trying to help kids. Where do you get that? The Times is pursuing its favorite narrative about segregation.

      -- it reflects Somerby's nihilism about topics of race and education, in which he seems to want to give up on black kids but knows that isn't an acceptable solution, so he just attacks everyone else's efforts.

      He seems to want to give up on black kids? Where do you get that? Because you disagree with him? TDH attacks those who don’t understand that “desegregation” can’t work.

      He needs to crawl into a corner and suck his thumb -- because what he writes here every day is doing no one any good, aside from the slight aid and comfort offered to white supremacists and similar bigots.

      You think white supremacists read this blog? To a close approximation nobody reads this blog. Even fewer read it with comprehension, as you so clearly illustrate.

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

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  7. do you ever stop complaining about a single shred of attention being paid to non-white people

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  8. Somerby desperately wants to pretend he hasn't prejudged the 1619 project, but he has.

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  9. "Inevitably, we have to look for the best ways to serve black and Hispanic kids in public school classrooms where Wally and the Beaver won't be present."

    Somerby cherry-picks the 0% white attendance in Compton, a 75% Latino, 25% black suburb of Los Angeles. He is apparently unaware that Compton schools have always had difficulties (even when 95% white) due to a too-small tax base. Today, the resource problems continue, together with political struggles between the PTA/Administration and Gates-funded Rhee-style charter take-overs operating through a group called Parent Revolution. Today, the image of Compton is that portrayed by NWA and John Singleton, but the city itself is largely Hispanic, working out its relationship with its black minority (by teaching African American students Spanish, for example).

    Compton should be an example of what Somerby means, but I doubt he intended it that way. Compton is the butt of many derogatory comments about minority schools when it should be considered a model for what happens when a diverse minority school doesn't have the money it needs to serve its students, is the target of money-grubbing education profiteers, and suffers from political in-fighting among city officials. None of this has anything to do with Somerby's complaints, but the historical continuity of Compton's problems across shifting demographics from the all-white population of the 1930s & 1940s to the largely black population of the 1960s to the today's largely hispanic population, different students and different residents but the same problems in its schools -- should be instructive to all.

    https://www.kcet.org/history-society/educating-compton-race-taxes-and-schools-in-southern-californias-most-notorious

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  10. Achievement gaps *cannot* be fixed as long as there are racially and ethnically isolated schools in inner city ghettoes. Period, end of story. Ghettoes are self-perpetuating. The ghettoes must be wiped out. There are no teaching methods, there is no school facility, there is no sainted teacher, that will change the gaps in the slightest. Tracking doesn’t narrow the gaps. If anything, it widens them. Desegregation in its broadest sense is the only real solution. Somerby ought to know this. Any other approach is doomed to fail.

    You shouldn’t give up on an aspirational goal just because it is difficult. The Times story outlines certain ways in which diversity can be pursued on a smaller scale (magnet schools, integration in more diverse neighborhoods, etc.) Somerby fails to acknowledge any of these more modest suggestions to simply denounce the whole focus on desegregation.

    According to this attitude, liberals might as well give up on everything, guns, climate change, what have you, because conservatives keep blocking them. That is the upshot of Somerby’s rants about integration.

    Somerby offers no suggestions as to how to fix achievement gaps because there is no fix. Nothing has worked in 50 years of NAEP testing. If there were a viable solution, someone somewhere would have found it. Somerby certainly hasn’t. Nothing has worked because the parameters which lead to achievement gaps have not changed: racially isolated segregated schools.

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    Replies
    1. You shouldn’t give up on an aspirational goal just because it is difficult.

      But when it’s impossible, then it becomes a half-aspirational goal and should be abandoned or shelved until conditions change.

      According to this attitude, liberals might as well give up on everything, guns, climate change, what have you, because conservatives keep blocking them.

      The only thing blocking sensible gun control and plans to combat climate change are “conservatives” blocking them. Not so with “integrating” public school systems like NYC’s.

      Here’s an analogy. Suppose you were contacted by an organization that lobbies for gun control, but their only efforts go into repealing the 2nd Amendment. Would you donate to them?

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