THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2021
Charles Blow, in love with the poor: We were sorry to read this photo caption in today's New York Times:
Amanda Gorman, poet and co-chair of the gala, wore a bright blue dress designed by Vera Wang. She carried a clutch that looked like a book titled “Give Us Your Tired.”
The gala in question was the Met Gala, We were sorry to read that Gorman was there, along with so many others.
Most simply put, the Met Gala is Manhattan's annual Sturges Rally for the rich, dumb and influential. The inanity is fully celebrated in this morning's New York Times, all through the Thursday Styles section.
The gala accompanies New York Fashion Week. In this morning's print edition alone, the featured headlines are these:
Lorde, Tom Ford and Kacey Musgraves Party During Fashion Week
Despite the Delta variant, the fashion tribe found lots of reason to celebrate.
New York Fashion Week Returns. Here’s the Cliffs Notes Version.
In case you missed it, a tour through our coverage of the shows.
How New York Is New York Fashion?
An infusion of out-of-town talent brings a jolt of energy to Men’s Day at New York Fashion Week.
Red Carpet Radicals: The Met Gala Really Wanted to Make a Statement
This year’s theme was American Independence. Patriotism, pop culture and politics were in fashion, but to what end?
‘Stick It to the Man’ and Other Lessons From the Met Gala Cocktails
Guests found many moments to reflect on contemporary American life.
For the record, four more reports appeared beneath a single "The Stories Behind the Looks" heading. We'll spare you the names and the details, other than to report that Billie Eilish has apparently made a daring choice:
She's decided to deep-six the fur!
Malala Yousafzai wasn't there. Neither was Greta Thunberg. These absences would possibly signal hope for the future, if any such hope for the future could rationally exist.
AOC was at the Gala, as you've undoubtedly heard. Most simply put, wealth / power / celebrity never don't win, or at least they never fail to win within our own failing, extremely dumb culture.
Remembering Norm Macdonald, the moths are constantly drawn to that flame! The rewards are simply too damn high. (So is the good-natured gullibility, though more on that tomorrow.)
According to that one report, guests at Met Gala cocktail soirees "found many moments to reflect on contemporary American life." We feel sure we we can guarantee this:
No one reflected on the Holmes County Consolidated School District, a small, badly underfunded rural district in the high-poverty Mississippi Delta region. Also, no one reflected on the life situation of Harvey Ellington, age 17, an admirable senior at Holmes County Central High, the district's only high school.
No one reflected on any of that, and no one ever will. Holmes County is far off the beaten track, and nobody cares about people like Ellington or about his horrific school.
The track record on this matter is plain. The history on this has been established over a great many years.
Having said that, we'll say this:
This past weekend, the New York Times featured the woes of this rural school district in its Sunday magazine. The lengthy report by Casey Parks was part of the magazine's Education Issue, an effort designed to let Times readers think that the newspaper actually cares.
That said, you've seen the report mentioned nowhere but here. The lengthy, admirably detailed report will generate no wider discussion.
Those predictions can be made with quiet confidence. The Met Gala generates oodles of splash. Kids like Ellington don't.
As we noted yesterday, Parks should be complimented for the depth of her reporting about the plight of kids in that underfunded district. We'll also say this:
It seemed to us that Parks possibly doesn't know a whole lot about the problems involved in low-income schooling in general. That should come as no surprise.
Newspapers like the New York Times conduct no such ongoing discussion. Even the most well-intentioned observers are left with little awareness of the basics concerning this general field of play.
Having said that, let us also say this about Parks' detailed, depressing report. More specifically, let us say this about a false impression her piece rather plainly conveyed.
Parks' very lengthy report appeared beneath these headlines:
The Tragedy of America’s Rural Schools
Outdated textbooks, not enough teachers, no ventilation—for millions of kids like Harvey Ellington, the public-education system has failed them their whole lives.
Those headlines conveyed a fairly obvious impression. They convey the impression that the appalling conditions in the Holmes County Schools are typical of America's rural school districts in general.
That same impression was conveyed in this passage early in Parks' report:
PARKS (9/12/21): While researchers and activists have spent decades detailing the ways urban schools have failed children, students like Ellington are learning in more dire conditions. Most of the country’s poorest counties are rural, and two years ago, leaders at the Rural School and Community Trust, a national nonprofit group, found that decades of population loss and divestment by state governments has left many rural communities facing “nothing less than an emergency” when it comes to educating children.
Nationwide, more than 9.3 million children—nearly a fifth of the country’s public-school students—attend a rural school. That’s more than attend the nation’s 85 largest school districts combined. And yet their plight has largely remained off the radars of policymakers. John White, the deputy assistant secretary for rural outreach at the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration, says that every time the nation or individual states roll out an education program, he searches for the word “rural.” “You either find one or two words or none at all,” he said.
"Most of the country’s poorest counties are rural?" That could even be true, but that doesn't mean that it's relevant.
"Nearly a fifth of the country's public school students attend a rural school?" Now the rubber is hitting the road, with a statistical statement that's almost surely grossly misleading.
We're told that a fifth of our public school students attend a rural school. As our own specific example, we're then shown Harvey Ellington's school, where the kids are all black kids, where the region is among the nation's poorest, and where the hallways flood every time it rains.
Almost surely, that admirable youngster's gruesome school isn't typical of the schools attended by those other nine million kids. For one thing, the Holmes County schools are overwhelmingly black (twelve white kids out of 3,000, Parks writes), while America's rural schools, as a group, are predominantly white.
Holmes County lies in the Mississippi Delta, in the heart of our nation's deep poverty. Beyond that, their situation is part of that state's ongoing racial history—the students are almost all black because the white kids are all attending private schools opened in the aftermath of court-ordered school integration.
Beyond that, Mississippi's racial politics affect the finding of those schools in ways Parks describes. As described, the situation in the Holmes County Schools is appalling and depressing, but it almost surely isn't typical or rural schools across the breadth of the nation.
We blue tribal types! Once in awhile, our greatest newspaper pretends that it cares about such matters as this. When it does, it tends to pretend that it cares all the way, suggesting that Amerikan schools are like this from coast to coast.
They publish an article to show us they care, and then the subject is dropped. In the one article they're willing to run, they push Storyline all the way.
Here in Amerika, 9.3 million schoolkids are up to their knees in water. So we readers are led to believe. In comments, we readers respond by saying how deeply we are,
At that point, the subject is gone till the next special Issue Meanwhile, Vanessa Fieldman and her ship of ghouls swarm the Met Gala cocktail events, offering a type of fashion / celebrity / rich folks reporting which goes on year round.
The woods are lovey, dark and deep, but wealth and celebrity constantly in. We the readers are quick to believe the things our anointed leaders have said.
They strike a pose and we applaud. This occurred again this past week in the case of the heartfelt Charles Blow.
Tomorrow: When Charles Blow met Hugh Hefner