WEDNESDAY, MARCH 4, 2020
...concerning New York's Asian families? Has the New York Times changed its tune concerning New York City's high-powered "specialized high schools?"
At present, admission to these high-powered schools is determined solely by results on a test. On that basis, the city's Asian kids win the bulk of the seats at these schools every year. Very few black and Hispanic kids qualify via the test.
Mayor de Blasio and Chancellor Carranza seem to think that there are lots of other kids who could benefit from these schools' high-powered courses of study. If that's true, it's a very good thing. The obvious step would be to increase the number of such schools, or to increase the number of seats at the schools which already exist.
The city could open a Stuyvesant II, a Stuyvesant High School Annex. There would then be twice as many seats for kids who can handle the work!
That would be the blindingly obvious move. Possibly for that very reason, de Blasio and Carranza have come up with a different idea.
Under their proposal, the number of seats at these high-powered schools would remain the same. Half the high-performing Asian kids would lose their seats at these schools, thereby opening the seats to black and Hispanic kids.
You'll almost never see a major proposal which seems to make less sense. Perhaps for that reason, the New York Times has never pursued the obvious question:
Instead of booting the highest performers, why doesn't the city simply increase the number of seats at such high-powered schools?
That question will never be asked because no good answer to the question will ever exist. But in a report in today's New York Times, we thought we saw the hapless newspaper changing its previous, unpleasant attitude toward the city's Asian families and kids.
Last year, the Times' reporting on this topic seemed to paint the Asian families as the villains of the piece. They were accused of buying their way into these schools through enrollment at "test prep" classes, even though the Asian families involved in this matter are the lowest-income demographic in the city.
It seems to us that today's report has begun to acknowledge the basic logic on the side of the Asian families, whose kids would lose their seats at these schools under the mayor's peculiar plan. To our ear, the newspaper's tone had changed.
A real discussion of this topic would involve the giant achievement gaps which exist between Gotham's different groups of kids. Since no such discussion will ever take place in the Times, the paper might at least be praised for failing to make the Asian families the scapegoats, as it seemed to be doing last year.
A blindingly obvious questions lies at the heart of this matter. We'll state that question one more time:
If so many of Gotham's kids can handle the work at these high-powered schools, why doesn't the city simply make more seats available, whether by expanding the existing schools or opening new high-powered schools?
You'll never see that obvious question asked by the New York Times. According to major anthropologists, this is the best our floundering species, and our most famous newspaper, were ever equipped to do.