TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 2021
...where nobody cares about black kids: What sorts of values prevail over here within our self-impressed town?
Over there, in Their Town, the racists prevail. Everybody understands that fact—but what values prevail in Our Town?
Yesterday morning, the New York Times published a very unusual set of letters. These letters challenged one of the most noxious values on wide display in Our Town.
Over here, within Our Town, we care about one set of kids. We care about that set of kids who might end up going to Yale.
The rest of the kids can go straight to Hell; they can go hang in the yard. We see this value put on display every time the New York Times discusses New York's public schools.
The New York Times cares about one group of kids. It cares about kids who might end up at one of Gotham's academically high-powered "specialized" high schools.
The newspaper care about nobody else. Anyone who doesn't understand this doesn't read this utterly gruesome, utterly faux Hamptons-based upper-class newspaper.
Recently, the editorial board was at it again, seeking ways to get more black and Hispanic kids into those "specialized" high schools. All other black and Hispanic kids can pretty much go straight to Hell.
These are the values of the Times. Those who don't understand this fact don't read this particular newspaper.
Yesterday morning, the Times published several letters objecting to this ideology. The letters appeared beneath a headline which captured the values which prevail in Our Town. That headline went like this:
Casting a Wider Net for Elite School Admission
In Our Town, we care about kids who attend "elite" schools. We care about no other kids.
Yesterday's letters appeared beneath that headline. Amazingly, the first letter went exactly like this:
The New York Times is once again trumpeting a misguided and counterproductive solution to the underrepresentation of Black and Latino students in the city’s specialized high schools. Don’t attack the entrance exam that has successfully produced a prodigious cadre of graduates for decades—Nobel laureates; Pulitzer Prize winners; distinguished leaders in the arts, sciences, business and government. Rather, it’s the root cause that must be addressed, namely, the lack of preparation students receive in grades K-8.
Gifted students deserve and require special settings and opportunities. That means universal screening in elementary school, and challenging and nurturing programs once the most capable students are identified. The mayor’s plan to remove academic admission screening for middle schools for at least a year does nothing to address the deficient preparation that too many Black and Latino students receive, and that is where our efforts and finances should be directed. There are no shortcuts. Attacking entrance standards is simply a cover-up, concealing the financial and moral commitment the city has been reluctant to make.Stanley Blumenstein
The writer is an alumnus and a former principal of the Bronx High School of Science.
Good God! Let's think about what that letter says.
For starters, understand this. The vast majority of Gotham kids will never attend the city's handful of specialized high schools.
At present, black and Hispanic kids are in fact vastly "underrepresented" in those "elite" schools. Amazingly, the letter-writer actually cares about why that is.
As we've noted again and again, extremely large "achievement gaps" obtain between different demographic groups in New York City's public schools, as is true almost everywhere else. But you aren't allowed to learn that fact in the New York Times.
At the New York Times, black kids who are doing poorly in school can just go hang in the yard. The Times cares about getting a few more black kids into Stuyvesant High. It cares about nothing and no one else.
If anything, we'd criticize Blumenstein's letter for being a bit sanguine and soft. The letter suggests that these very large achievement gaps result from deficiencies in public school performance starting in kindergarten.
The actual story is more challenging than that. But you will hear no part of this story in the New York Times.
Blumenstein attacks the Times for turning its back on the nature and size of the problem. For the record, the Times does so for an obvious reason:
Except for purposes of performative virtue, the New York Times doesn't seem to give a fig about the lives of black or Hispanic kids.
The next two letters in Monday's pile also challenge the New York Times' ugly tunnel vision. Meanwhile, good God almighty! The third letter said this:
The city’s specialized and other elite public high schools have been successful precisely as an outcome of the admissions system, and access is highly coveted. The unrepresentative selection of students that The Times decries is not a result of any bias inherent in the admissions process itself. Rather, it is because the supply has remained constant despite an overwhelming increase in demand.
Attempting to foster diversity by changing the input mechanism seems misguided. Instead, why not add more high schools that admit based on the same criteria?[NAME WITHHELD]
New YorkThe writer is a Stuyvesant High School alumnus.
Good God! Someone has actually suggested adding seats to these high-powered schools, or creating other high-powered schools, rather than simply admitting more black kids to Stuyvesant High and kicking the Asian kids out!
As best we can tell, the writer is not an education specialist. He may not realize that those achievement gaps are so large that, even if you doubled the number of seats at these high-powered schools, those seats would still be dominated by Asian-American kids unless you found some way to liberalize entrance requirements.
That brings us back to Blumenstein's letter. What do we do for the many kids who are years behind in school? They aren't prepared for a high-powered academic experience in high school; they will never be going to Yale. How do we address their needs in schools—their need for academic skills, their need for a good personal experience in school from kindergarten on?
At the Times, you'll never see such questions addressed. At the Times, those low-achieving kids can all go hang in the yard.
One last point:
You will never see this topic address by Rachel, Lawrence or Brian. You'll never see Rachel discuss the needs of low-income kids. In the highly faux world of Rachel Maddow, those kids can go hang in the yard.
Despite the ways we posture and pose, these values do prevail in Our Town. Whether we understand it or not, this actually is who we are over here in Our Town.
The others are aware of this fact. It's only unknown to us.