Today, the Post gives it a try: We've seen the analysts cry before. We've never seen them crying this hard.
This morning, as the weekend honor guard broke us our regular Saturday breakfast—two frozen waffles, a bit under-toasted—tears were streaming down their cheeks.
"We've never seen a conceptual muddle this vast," one of them glumly exclaimed.
They referred to this morning's front-page report in the Washington Post, an endless attempt to analyze something resembling "public school integration." And dear God, how right those analysts were:
We thought the Times was bad with this topic. Today, the Post gives it a try.
Warning! So far, we've only been able to fight our way through the first 33 paragraphs of the endless 99-paragraph hard-copy report. (Yesterday afternoon, we tried to read it on-line, but we quickly decided to stop, putting our sanity first.)
This morning, we gave it a try in a coffee shop, struggling for the better part of an hour. We came away with a major anthropological finding:
We humans aren't built for conceptual work. It just isn't the way we were made.
Quickly, a word of warning. On balance, the Post seems to be saying that "public school integration" (or something like it) has been advancing since 1995, a finding which flies in the face of Preferred Current Tribal Woke Content.
Within our increasingly woke liberal tribe, everyone knows what we're supposed to say. We're supposed to say that public school "segregation" has never been as bad as it is today!
The Post report seems to challenge that view, though the report is such a conceptual muddle that, at least at this point, we're not entirely sure what the Post mainly claims.
The Post report follows Joe Biden's occasionally coherent attempt to explain what we should do "about inequality in schools and race."
(We're quoting from the semi-coherent question posed to Biden during Thursday night's "debate.")
Also in this morning's Post, Margaret Sullivan offers a barely coherent critique of Biden's occasionally coherent remarks, including a few quotations from woke but seemingly underschooled tribal members on twitter.
Moral posturing to the side, our tribe has never shown much interest in the lives of kids in low-income schools. For example, you won't see any such topic discussed on MSNBC, and we do mean not ever.
The lives and interests of low-income "minority" kids are neither entertaining nor fun. Presumably for these reasons, Rachel never discusses any such topic, and neither does anyone else.
This morning, though, in its featured front-page report, the Washington Post discusses public school "segregation," or something very much like it.
As noted above, the Post's front-page report is extremely long—99 paragraphs in all. In print editions, the lengthy report consumes a large chunk of the Post's front page, then consumes the entirety of pages A12 and A13 inside the paper.
As we read the print report, we were struck almost instantly by the conceptual confusion. The writers talk about "deeply segregated school districts" and "highly integrated public schools," along with "schools that were not integrated in 2017," without making any early attempt to define these terms.
On line, the problem deepens. On line, the full-length report from the print edition includes a link to a second lengthy report, one which contains a whole new set of somewhat puzzling terms. Also, beware of puzzling interactive graphics!
At any rate, we're told in this second report that the nation's public school districts come in three flavors. They are defined as follows:
Types of public school districts:Warning! Under this conceptual framework, a "diverse school district" can also be "deeply segregated."
Diverse: No one race constitutes more than 75 percent of the district’s student enrollment.
Undiverse: Some race constitutes 75-90% of the district's student enrollment.
Extremely undiverse: Some race constitutes more than 90% of the district's student enrollment.
With a little cogitation, that fact isn't hard to grasp. But this would apparently be a diverse school district under this conceptual scheme:
Student enrollment, School District AUnder the Post's conceptual framework, that school district would be categorized as "diverse."
Black kids: 50 percent
Hispanic kids: 50 percent
Meanwhile, if that district's black and Hispanic kids are evenly distributed in its various schools, those schools would presumably be assessed as "integrated," according to another part of the Post's conceptual scheme. No "segregation" to look at!
But uh-oh! According to the UCLA framework which controls modern woke liberal thought, every school in that district would be "segregated." Indeed, they'd all be "apartheid schools." There would be no white kids in those schools at all.
We may discuss this absurdly lengthy report next week. Then again, we may give up in despair. (We have no idea why a newspaper would present so much material, on such an important topic, all in one big dose.)
We may give up in despair! Today, though, we have two takeaways. Our first such thought is this:
If we insist on using the term "segregation," questions of diversity and racial isolation in public schools are quite hard to discuss.
That would be our first takeaway—if we want a clear discussion, we should stop insisting on the use of fraught historical terms which no longer have clear meaning.
Our second takeaway fills us with gloom, but it comes to us from top anthropologists:
We humans aren't built for conceptual work. It just isn't the way we were made!