Public schools return to the New York Times...

 SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2020

...and the same old patterns obtain: Ever since the first week of March, the public discourse has been dominated by two related topics:

1) The global pandemic
2) Donald J. Trump's lunatic statements about the global pandemic.

Round the decay of our colossal wreck, few other topics remained. In particular, the dull, boring topic of public schools disappeared from the New York Times.

This morning, the New York City Public Schools returns to the top of the Times' front page. Below, you see the headline which sits above the news report:

New York City Will Change Many Selective Schools to Address Segregation

Once again, the headline raises one of our favorite semantic questions. Are Gotham's public schools "segregated?" Does it make sense to describe the schools that way?

For ourselves, we would have rewritten that headline, along with the news report's opening paragraphs. 

We'd be inclined to replace the language of "segregation / desegregation" with the language of "racial imbalance" and "increased diversity." We'd be inclined to edit this morning's report in other ways as well.

Below, you see the way today's report begins. We'd be inclined to replace the phrase "long-simmering concerns" with the less exciting but more straightforward "long-standing claims:"

SHAPIRO (12/19/20): New York City Will Change Many Selective Schools to Address Segregation

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Friday major changes to the way hundreds of New York City’s selective middle and high schools admit their students, a move intended to address long-simmering concerns that admissions policies have discriminated against Black and Latino students and exacerbated segregation in the country’s largest school district.

New York is more reliant on high-stakes admissions requirements than any other district in the country, and the mayor has for years faced mounting pressure to take more forceful action to desegregate the city’s racially and socioeconomically divided public schools. Black and Latino students are significantly underrepresented in selective middle and high schools, though they represent nearly 70 percent of the district’s 1.1 million students.

You may have noticed the strained or possibly bungled logic in the last sentence in that passage. We'd be inclined to rewrite that sentence too.

Today's report is a fascinating journalistic presentation. New York Times reporting on public schools almost always is.

Can anyone here play this game? Aside from the major conceptual issues involved, today's report even includes a classic "link to nowhere:"

SHAPIRO: The time frame for a final decision on whether to get rid of middle school screening for good—which will come shortly before Mr. de Blasio leaves office on New Year’s Day in 2022—instantly created a quandary for the phalanx of candidates vying to replace him.

The candidates are likely to be pressed on whether they would resume what has been a particularly contentious practice: measuring the academic achievements of fourth graders to determine if they can attend a selective middle school.

Say what? New York City's middle schools include grades 6-8. Why would admission be determined by academic achievement in fourth grade? (We're not saying there isn't an answer. We just don't know what it is.)

Within the statement we've highlighted, Eliza Shapiro includes a link to an earlier report—but that report describes no such practice, contentious or otherwise. The link is a classic link to nowhere! Can anyone here play this game?

We're fascinated by the way public schools get covered by the upper-end press in Our Town. Today, as always, the Times engages in a few standard practices:

Most significantly, the Times ignores the giant achievement gaps which seem to obtain, on average, between different demographic groups within the Gotham schools.  More specifically, the Times ignores the fact that those giant gaps seem to exist by fourth grade, when the first Naep testing occurs. 

Having ignored their very existence, the Times makes no attempt to ask what causes those apparently giant gaps, or how big those gaps really are, or how those apparently giant gaps could perhaps be reduced in the elementary grades, prior to the need to determine admission to middle school.

Briefly, let's be fair! In constantly pretending that those gaps simply don't exist, the Times is able to display its obvious moral greatness. In the process, it also throws black kids under a very old bus—but this is the way we're inclined to behave here in the streets of Our Town.

There's a great deal more to be said about this latest effort. We chuckled at the comment the Times decided to place at the top of its list of "NYT Picks:"

COMMENTER FROM BUFFALO: Thank you Mayor Bill DeBlasio. We must dismantle systemic racism and structures of oppression and supremacy. The first shall be last and the last shall be first!

Very few readers had recommended this comment. In the minds of the NYT, it belonged at the top of the pile!

How might we address those apparently giant gaps, which exist all over the nation? Citizens, please! For readers of the New York Times, those gaps don't even exist!

Having said that, we'll only add this:

All too often, we're inclined behave this way in the streets of Our Town. Elsewhere, even in Their Town, the others can sometimes see this.

For deep rumination only: We clicked two links as we tried to explore that statement about fourth-grade achievement. The first click took us to this earlier news report, a report which included this passage:

SHAPIRO (9/20/18): Mr. de Blasio, despite his usually soaring rhetoric on national progressive causes, has long refused to use the word “segregation” to describe entrenched racial and economic stratification in the city’s public schools. In June, he said that he wanted to change the admissions process at a group of the city’s most elite high schools, a plan that requires action by the State Legislature.

Should de Blasio use the term "segregation" to describe that "racial and economic stratification?" 

Does the admittedly pleasing term create more heat or more light? Compare and contrast. Discuss at length. Using examples, explain.

We'd go with "racial and ethnic imbalance." Compare and contrast. Explain.


47 comments:

  1. Segregation is not a "racial imbalance" but a complete and mandated exclusion, much like apartheid. Whether this is a good descriptor of the NY City schools depends on the actual distribution of kids among the schools. When Somerby discussed this last time, he mentioned 8 African American kids allowed into those elite high schools, out of hundreds of students. That sounds pretty complete any exclusion to me. The mechanism was a test that black kids could not pass, not a law excluding them, but the effect was pretty obviously the same. Why could most black kids not pass the entrance exam? Because they were also excluded from high performing middle schools attended by those accepted into the selective high schools. So this seems like an important step toward increasing participation by black students in those selective high schools.

    Somerby refers to gaps between black and white means on the NAEP test, but this selection process isn't about average students or means at all. It is about what happens in the tails of a distribution which appears in practice to have no overlap, no kids who might benefit from inclusion. But is there really no small group of black kids who could benefit from attending selective schools? We don't know because Somerby uses the wrong statistic to talk about this problem. He never mentions standard distributions for NAEP scores, the measure that would tell us how many kids might do well enough on NAEP to prosper in a more rigorous school.

    We are instead supposed to believe that DiBlasio is just doing this to be PC, just forcing black kids into situations where they will do poorly (remember that NAEP gap) and not opening up a chance for high-performing black students to compete against peers who were selected early on for admission to schools that provide better preparation for the elite high schools.

    In the bad old days, black people were prevented from voting by giving them ridiculously difficult tests that few white people could pass either. A ridiculously difficult test similarly keeps black kids out of selective high schools, while their white and Asian peers are coached for the test in their selective middle schools. The test constitutes an institutional barrier, so does the existence of middle schools that prep for high school admission. And so does the assumption that a single mean can characterize all of the kids within an ethnic group, without considering the number and achievement of the highest performing black students. Ignoring the overlap in NAEP score distribution is Somerby's statistical error. He has never reported a standard deviation at this blog, giving the mistaken impression that ALL black students lag behind white and Asian students, that there are only 8 black students capable of doing the work at an exclusive high school.

    If you take a city with 1,126,501 high school students, multiply by .70 (because 70% of NYC's students are black) and apply the bell curve to it, there should be, under normal circumstances, 19,716 black students in the upper tail, capable of doing the work in a selective high school -- not 8. That is how you determine whether there is a "racial and ethnic imbalance" or "segregation." And frankly, it looks like segregation to me. It looks like systematic, institutional exclusion of black students.

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    1. "That sounds pretty complete any exclusion to me. The mechanism was a test that black kids could not pass, not a law excluding them, but the effect was pretty obviously the same."

      If the test tests for knowledge and ability at a certain level and a child doesn't show that she has it. Wouldn't it be unfair to put that child into a class where she would have no chance to pass the class?

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    2. 7:49 classic strawman argument.

      Your qualifier "at a certain level" aside, the test tests for knowledge, not ability.

      Furthermore, curriculums are not set in stone.

      DiBlasio's plan is fine, but it would be healthier to not have these specialized schools at all, they do not enhance society, only stratify it with false meritocracy.

      The servile nature of people like Somerby is disconcerting; life should be lived, not merely observed.

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    3. In an employment context, a test used to screen applicants for a job needs to have proven relevance to the content of the job. When it comes to education, screening for knowledge makes little sense because the point of learning is to acquire skills and knowledge, not already have them before starting.

      A consistent finding is that African American students do much better in class and earn higher grades than their test scores would predict. This is true for the ACT and SAT and also the GRE. It is one reason for setting aside such scores when considering minority applicants.

      A test is desirable for school districts because it provides the semblance of objectivity while limiting a large number of applicants to a manageable few. It is hard to justify the content of such a test because that requires considerable study and psychometric expertise that a district may not be able to invest in making such a test truly fair. If the test is based on the curriculum at the highly selective middle schools, it is biased in favor of students going there, and grossly unfair.

      The kids who do best in special programs and schools are those with the strongest motivation, not those with the highest IQs. That isn't measured by a test, but it is indicated by other things on a child's application. That's why districts that are serious about being fair to minority students allow multiple factors and many sources of information to enter into their decisions about who to admit. This, of course, looks unfair to the parents of those kids who test well.

      All of this concern that if you admit black kids they will not do well, is foolish. Children don't do well for a variety of reasons. When a school is a bid fit, the kids complain and their parents enroll them somewhere else. But more often, the kids do well and do pass their classes. That's because tests are not all there is to such programs, they don't measure all of the abilities or traits needed to succeed. Those who work with highly motivated minority kids have seen this happen over and over.

      At some point you have to ask whether the over-concern with black failure may not create self-fulfilling prophecies by undermining kids faith in themselves. Why does no one worry about white kids failing? They do fail, even when they are bright, but when they do, it isn't propping up a stereotype so people attribute it to "his parents were getting divorced" or "math isn't his thing" or "he decided to pursue music instead of science". Black kids should get the same courtesy instead of blaming their ability and worrying at every juncture whether they can handle the work.

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  2. Correction of typo: the standard distribution is another name for the bell curve or "normal" curve which describes most human characteristics, including intelligence, height, weight, and school performance (with a large enough group, typically > 30). I meant to say standard deviation (not distribution) which measures variability within a group of scores. Variability is the distance of individual scores from the mean, how spread out those scores are around the mean. Standard deviation is, roughly speaking, a measure of the average variability within a group. The bell curve predicts that within a group, roughly 2.5% will be in the about 2 standard deviations above the mean.

    There is no reason to believe that the distribution of scores for black children will not be a standard distribution with similar numbers of students in the upper and lower tails, as the distribution of scores for white children, regardless of the difference between the means for those two distributions. This is very basic statistics.

    The last sentence of paragraph 2 above, should say standard deviation (Somerby has never, ever mentioned it for NAEP scores) not standard distribution.

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  3. “Say what? New York City's middle schools include grades 6-8. Why would admission be determined by academic achievement in fourth grade? (We're not saying there isn't an answer. We just don't know what it is.)”

    I’m not even an “extremely smart” blogger who purportedly has an education background and spends time thinking about education and who has somewhat inexplicably taken a special interest in New York City’s public schools (and zero interest in his own Baltimore schools), but here is what one finds if one applies oneself for 5 minutes on the Internet:

    “The state, meanwhile, canceled standardized tests — that means the student's fourth and eighth grade test scores cannot be used to sort them for middle and high school.”

    Report On NYC Schools: Eliminate Middle School Screens, Make High School Admissions More Fair
    https://ny.chalkbeat.org/2020/5/12/21256538/middle-school-screens-high-school-admissions

    Note: the tests were cancelled due to Covid.

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  4. The question being asked is whether having selective middle schools is a good idea. Is it beneficial or harmful to the kids?

    Instead, Somerby avoids that and simply makes his usual claim, that those black and Hispanic students can’t get in because their test scores suck, which is a tautology.

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  5. NAEP is not an IQ test, although Somerby seems to treat it as if it is.

    Aside from some criticism of studies showing that exposure to more words in the first years of life results in better school performance down the road, Somerby has never talked about what would increase NAEP scores for black kids.

    It is as if he is suggesting that the racial gap is intractable and thus black kids should be excluded from the educational opportunities white kids benefit from.

    Somerby has never discussed socioeconomic inequities and how those affect education. He has never discussed school lunch programs, other than as an inadequate measure of poverty. He has no ideas about how to help black kids do better, other than to point out that improved educational practices seem to lift all boats, so that the average black kid is now doing as well as the average white kid did 20 years ago. But heaven forbid that he should acknowledge that education has improved (at least until Betsy DeVos was appointed).

    But if the performance of black kids has improved that much, why assume it cannot improve more with additional effort devoted to educating black students? And Somerby's only focus on high achieving black students has been to denigrate their accomplishments by suggesting that the press has focused on them solely to promote its own agenda.

    Somerby seems to find the idea of equality threatening. DiBlasio is trying to improve equality of opportunity. Somerby seems to think that equality of achievement, of outcomes, is unachievable. But how do we know that when there is not equality of opportunity to foster achievement?

    Most liberals believe in equality of opportunity and that eliminating achievement gaps is possible with effort. They are willing to expend effort and pay for resources. Somerby seems to think that treating black and white kids equally is pie in the sky and blames media for being PC when it assumes that black kids can achieve. He thinks the media should assume that the gap is going to prevent black kids from succeeding and result in failure and wasted seats in those special schools, that should have gone to a more deserving white or Asian child (yes, he is not above playing off Asians against black kids in the same kind of divide and conquer strategy that has kept minority groups from uniting against the city).

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  7. This guy writes almost exclusively about education. I like reading him. He’s a former teacher. He’s a curmudgeon, hence his blog is called “curmudgucation.” Here is his recent take on the naep test (which he calls the “BS test”) and achievement gaps:

    No, There Really Doesn't Need To Be A Big Spring Test In 2021
    http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2020/11/no-there-really-doesnt-need-to-be-big.html

    In it, he says about the achievement gaps:

    “Every single thing that describes "where students should be" is a construct, a made-up measurement that encourages some students to think of themselves as damaged or deficient. “

    Whether you agree or disagree, it’s interesting how this echoes Somerby when he says the newspaper shouldn’t report on vaccine reluctance because it encourages reluctance, or when he was angry at the media for reporting on those lead-poisoned and potentially brain damaged Flint kids. His reason? It would make the kids think of themselves as damaged or deficient.

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    1. mh, thanks for the link to http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/.

      He links to an article by Alfie Kohn who is one of my favorite education writers.

      https://www.salon.com/2015/08/16/the_education_fad_thats_hurting_our_kids_what_you_need_to_know_about_growth_mindset_theory_and_the_harmful_lessons_it_imparts/

      No Contest: The Case Against Competition by Alfie Kohn:

      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GQDOD7Q/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i3

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  8. I have always believed in the Vygotsky approach of starting where each individual child is and working forward from there. To do that, you do need individual assessment, but that isn't what NAEP provides.

    NAEP doesn't report individual scores back to students or teachers but is a measure of how well a school district is doing. The comparison between black and white students on a standard measure is intended to provide a state-by-state comparison and a measure of improvement over time:

    https://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/students/#:~:text=NAEP%20doesn't%20report%20results,for%20students%20across%20our%20country.

    It is useless for the purposes of deciding who should go to which middle school or for predicting who should enter a special high school. For one thing, it doesn't take into account curriculum differences or STEM preparation.

    I fully agree with the curmudgeon's contention that NAEP specifically shouldn't be used to make black kids feel deficient, because it is a measure of how well their schools are doing, not the kids. But Somerby does seem to think the kids are "damaged or deficient" because of those gaps in performance when data are disaggregated by race. And that is not the way such info is intended to be used.

    Somerby says:

    "Briefly, let's be fair! In constantly pretending that those gaps simply don't exist, the Times is able to display its obvious moral greatness. In the process, it also throws black kids under a very old bus—but this is the way we're inclined to behave here in the streets of Our Town."

    How are such kids thrown under a bus? By failing to acknowledge that black kids don't measure up, Somerby says:

    "Having ignored their very existence, the Times makes no attempt to ask what causes those apparently giant gaps, or how big those gaps really are, or how those apparently giant gaps could perhaps be reduced in the elementary grades, prior to the need to determine admission to middle school."

    I think Somerby is saying that the media needs to point out the gaps so that schools will be held accountable for raising black kids scores to the level of white kids on the NAEP. But Somerby himself never engages in a meaningful discussion of what such gaps mean. Do they mean that black kids cannot do science at an elite high school, or do they measure stereotype threat (as Claude Steele suggests) or do they measure the impact of systemic racism, or do they reflect different early childhood experiences and exposure to culture reflected by test questions, or what? If the media emphasizes these gaps, I think some parents will feel that their kids are being disrespected (and they will be, in my opinion) while others will call the tests biased, and schools may receive less funding (because discontent with schools always seems to have that result), while the bigots feel that their view of black people as inherently deficient will be justified by objective evidence. All of these are reasons why the media may avoid making racial comparisons based on test scores while emphasizing the need for equality of opportunity (access to programs by all kids regardless of race).

    Somerby could discuss this intelligently, but instead he wants to debate whether the term "segregation" is used by someone quoted in a news report. Somerby has previously attacked DiBlasio for calling for reform of admission to elite schools, but today Somerby fails to note that DiBlasio is saying the same thing he is, that the term "segregation" is too strong a word.

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  9. "Black and Latino students are significantly underrepresented in selective middle and high schools, though they represent nearly 70 percent of the district’s 1.1 million students.

    You may have noticed the strained or possibly bungled logic in the last sentence in that passage. We'd be inclined to rewrite that sentence too."

    I don't see anything wrong with that sentence. It is saying that black and latino students are 70% of the school population and thus should appear in special high schools in similar proportions.

    It uses the statistical standard for assessing presence of discrimination applied by courts. Somerby has previously said that black students shouldn't be assumed to be represented in special classes based on their proportion of the school population because they don't do as well, on average, on standardized tests (e.g., they are too low performing to qualify).

    When you are talking about a limited number of seats in such classes, with a very large pool of black students to select from, statistically, there should be plenty of high performing black students to choose from, even if the mean of the black group is lower (as it happens to be). That's because every black student does not perform at the mean. Some perform substantially lower and other perform substantially higher. Statistically, there will be enough in the very high performing category to fill more seats than are currently being allocated to them. That's if the admission test is fair. That it is not fair is obvious from the very low number of black students qualifying for seats.

    No one is saying that every black child, regardless of performance, should go to a school for high performing students. Somerby pretends that is the proposal and claims black kids will be "thrown under the bus" if put into a class they cannot handle and thus fail. Protecting black kids from failure is a long-standing argument raised by bigots, previously against segregating schools.

    And Somerby says nothing about the ridiculous notion of assuming that a child's performance in fourth grade is a good predictor of performance in high school. One difficulty standardized tests have is that the students themselves don't understand what a test is about, why they should try hard on it at all. Many are insufficiently motivated to do well and don't pay enough attention or focus their energy to do their best. White kids are more likely to be socialized in test taking by fourth grade. We may not have any idea how well black kids are doing, much less how well they will do in high school, when they have career goals and a better idea of the relationship between test scores and admission to college, the importance of trying hard and reaching goals.

    Somerby never considers any of this stuff. That is his failure, not the schools and not those black kids he pretends to worry about.

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  10. Correction: in the 6th paragraph, substitute integrating for segregating. The potential harm to black students was an argument against integrating schools that were currently segregated. Sorry to be confusing.

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  11. "This week, Trump campaign lawyer Lin Wood, who helped kicked off the outgoing president's volley of unsuccessful legal challenges to the election results and has aggravated Republicans with calls to boycott the Georgia Senate runoff, submitted a new election lawsuit apparently representing himself.

    Legal experts on social media couldn't help but notice an incredibly unfortunate typo near the end of his filing. Instead of writing, "Under penalty of perjury," he wrote "I declare and verify under plenty of perjury" that the facts on election irregularities described in his filing are correct."

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  12. I think achievement/failure terminology applied towards children is appallingly uncompassionate. It is the terminology of competitive brutalist capitalism. It trains us to see children merely as sub-human robots for future profit production. It pollutes the discourse of all areas of life and perpetuates competitive capitalist attitudes. I say "fuck it" to efforts to instill uncompassionate capitalist mindsets upon children. A child who tests in the 100th percentile is just as precious as a child in the 1st percentile. Each deserves an educational experience that cherishes them equally.

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  13. Here is something from Curmudgucation that I've never seen Somerby mention, ever:

    "But at this point the research is overwhelming--the presence of Black teachers in a school produces better results for Black students. With a Black teacher, Black students are more likely to go to college, less likely to suffer exclusionary discipline, more likely to be placed in gifted classes. The list goes on. And it's important for the white students in a school to encounter Black teachers as well. Ahebee hints at one other reason that Black teachers can be effective for Black students--in many settings, those teachers are the ones who actually live in the community that the school serves. Every student is best served by teachers from within and from outside her community. The student needs someone who gets the local flavor, and someone who can show her what lies outside familiar boundaries. All voices have their place within the school, and a diversity of voices best serves the students."

    https://whyy.org/articles/as-the-gap-between-students-and-teachers-of-color-widens-in-pa-black-families-demand-change/

    Apparently, in PA, the segregation issue is about the lack of black teachers in many of its 500 school districts. Cue Somerby to argue that there are insufficient black teachers for all the districts that need them, without ever mentioning how the number of such teachers can be increased, not only in PA but also in NYC and elsewhere.

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    1. PA is only 11% Black, and since most of them live in Philly and Pittsburgh, it make sense that most areas of the state would have few blacks. How do you convince a black teacher to move out of the big city with all of its cultural amenities into some bum-fuk rural area just satisfy someone's abstract desires for perfect geographical cultural diversity?

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    2. There aren't enough in the cities either. There aren't enough even at schools with large black enrollments. As described by the article.

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    3. From the article: “Now Black educators only make up 12% of teaching staff nationally.” This is supposed to sound like a shocking bit of information, but it’s only shocking to ignoramuses. Because neither the author nor you seem to know that Non-Hispanic blacks comprise only 12.1% of the population according to the 2010 United States Census. So if black teachers are under represented in PA schools it means they are overrepresented in other states and other school systems. PA is a dying state. It’s been losing population for decades. Young black professionals, teachers included, are likely moving to cities with faster growing economies and lower cost of living like Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, or Orlando.

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    4. The point is that black teachers confer a benefit that should coincide with employment numbers in excess of their distribution among the population.

      With modern technology, big cities have little to offer that would suggest a better quality of life, unless you get off on being stuck in traffic.

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  14. Shapiro says that DiBlasio has refused to use the term segregation.

    Somerby says: "Should de Blasio use the term "segregation" to describe that "racial and economic stratification?"

    He goes on to say that the term brings more heat than light to the discussion.

    What is the point of arguing about whether DiBlasio should have said something he has refused to say, when Somerby himself doesn't think he should say it either?

    Why not argue about whether DiBlasio should appoint Ivanka Trump as his new head of schools? Why not argue about whether DiBlasio should say there are mice on the moon? There are so many things Somerby could argue about that DiBlasio has never said, would not say, and shouldn't say.

    This has to be one of the stupidest essays Somerby has written. I suspect he didn't read carefully and thought DiBlasio did use the word segregation -- that is the only way that Somerby's argument makes any sense.

    But then, one must wonder why he is so eager to hear the wrong thing come out of DiBlasio's mouth, because mishearings don't come from nowhere and Somerby's expectation may have inspired this one. Personally, I think a blogger like Somerby should confine himself to criticizing what people actually said, not what he imagines they said.

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  15. I hate the focus on ethnicity. It teaches us the bad lesson that people of different ethnicity are inherently different. It teaches us that ethnic distinctions are more important that any other distinctions.

    After all, one could measure the percentage of kids in special schools based on height or weight or athletic ability or immigration status or food preferences or religion or etc. etc.

    BTW it's not even the case that the 5 "official" ethnicities are the ones people actually believe in. There's a difference between Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Pakistani-Americans, etc. Cubans are not the same as Argentines. Mormons, Muslims, Jews, and Baptists are not the same.

    I wish we could simply treat each child as an individual and do what's best for her or him.

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    1. Yet it is Republicans that focus on race, especially since the "southern strategy".

      Races exist only because racism exists.

      Here is the crux, David, in a simple question:

      Do black people do worse because of environment or genetics?

      Unless you own up to how you answer that question, you are merely arguing in bad faith.

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    2. It's not exactly true that black people do worse.

      First of all, worse at WHAT? What measure is it that you're asking about?

      Second, whatever you're talking about, there's a distribution. Some black people do better than average, some do worse. In order to avoid stereotyping,k you should add the words "on average."

      End of lecture. I will address a version your question, @2:08. Why do black students lag white and Asian students by 3 to 5 years, on average? My guess is that it's due to environment - specifically Democratic policies. Policies designed to make blacks dependent on government. YMMV.

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    3. David, first you argue that there should be no distinctions and then you argue that the distinctions are important because important distinctions exist within categories too. You can't have this both ways.

      I think it is important to respect whatever people consider distinctive about themselves. To my knowledge, no one has proposed basing our social interactions on government census categories.

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    4. How convenient to belong to a political party that blames all of society's woes on the other party! That does explain why everything boils down to "get rid of the libs" for Republicans.

      Please name three proposals of Republicans specifically aimed at improving school performance among African American children. Do not include anything generic that either helps all children or helps all schools, or that has a different purpose (such as fostering more religion in public schools).

      I don't think you can name even one. A policy that says "get rid of Democrats and everything will be solved and wonderful" is not a policy. It is called scapegoating. It is ludicrous that the only party that actually cares about education (as opposed to indoctrination) is being blamed for problems that do not originate in school at all.

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    5. OK @4:40, here goes:

      The huge one is Trump's support for school choice -- vouchers, charter schools, etc. School choice has majority support among blacks, because they know that many of their children are stuck in failing schools. Democrats tend to oppose school choice, because their special interests oppose it, namely the teachers' unions and the public education establishment.

      Republicans favor stronger law enforcement, which indirectly helps black students in high crime neighborhoods.

      Donald Trump signed a bipartisan bill that will permanently provide more than $250 million a year to the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, along with dozens of other institutions that serve large shares of minority students.

      Cheers

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    6. "Republicans favor stronger law enforcement, ..."

      Why in the name of Bill Barr and Michael Flynn, would anyone ever believe such a ridiculous statement?

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    7. Slightly off-topic, buy I'd love to see Republicans treat defense like they do education. (No, not put a grifter like DeVos in charge of the military, LOL). More like giving every man, woman, and child a $200K voucher, and let them spend it to defend themselves how they want.
      Let's see General Dynamics and Northrup Grumman compete for my business, like the GOP wants the schools to.

      Vouchers for Defense!

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  16. “In constantly pretending that those gaps simply don't exist, the Times is able to display its obvious moral greatness. “

    To go further with Peter Greene, the curmudgeon of curmudgucation, he says it is precisely the focus on such measures as the “achievement gap” that has led to meddlesome school reforms, such as No Child Left Behind and Common Core. (He isn’t a fan). So, Somerby’s demand, that the media focus on this, is bound to lead to more of the same. In other words, Mr Greene argues, pretty convincingly, that there has been too much focus on achievement gaps that ends up blaming schools for the gaps.

    If one tries to be charitable and assumes that Somerby is using the achievement gap as shorthand for all of the ways our society shortchanges minorities, ok. But he then wants to argue that liberals’ only idea is integration in schools. And that is patently false. He doesn’t get to credit himself with some sort of proof of liberal hypocrisy by completely ignoring the policies that liberals promote and enact outside the classroom to create better circumstances for minorities.

    These are just a few that Somerby’s bogeyman DeBlasio has enacted in NYC:

    “In addition to expanding the city’s pre-K program to provide free preschool to all 4-year olds, the de Blasio Administration has undertaken a variety of education initiatives including an expansion of after-school programs in middle schools; a community schools initiative that provides students with additional learning opportunities and enrichment programming; changes in the discipline code including abolition of suspensions for students in grades K-2; an expansion of school choice for enrollment in middle schools; and an increase in teacher pay. Simultaneously, the DOE has also moved away from performance-based accountability policies. An evaluation of the de Blasio Administration programs is beyond the scope of this paper, but many of these initiatives might be expected to affect student performance, particularly for students coming from minority and disadvantaged families.”

    From Grades 3 to 8:
    Tracing Changes in Achievement Gaps by Race & Gender in New York City Public Schools
    https://ibo.nyc.ny.us/iboreports/from-grades-3-to-8-tracing-changes-in-achievement-gaps-by-race-and-gender-in-new-york-city-public-schools-december-201.html

    These are policies typical of liberals. Somerby doesn’t get to claim liberals don’t care by refusing to discuss this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mh -- You say the achievement gap one way that our society shortchanges minorities. That's the common view, but maybe it's the opposite. Maybe the achievement gap is a way that minorities shortchange society.

      The black crime rate is over 5 times as high as the Asian or White crime rate. Blacks contribute less, on average, in taxes. They use a disproportionate share of government resources. Is that my fault? Why isn't crime the fault of the criminal?

      Delete
    2. David in Cal,
      Like most thinking people, I too, support a 90% top tax rate on those whose assets we protect globally.
      Let's face it, you'd have to be a super-rich asshole, or a moron not too.

      Delete
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