On "Segregation", Do as New Yorkers Do, Not as They Say
June 18, 2018, 10:40 AM
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n the second half of the 20th Century, New York City experimented with taking progressivism seriously for a relatively brief period of time, with catastrophic results. But New Yorkers tend to be smart, pushy, and self-interested — as exemplified by a certain New York native in the news fairly frequently these days.

So, New York has junked many of the policies that nearly destroyed it, although you wouldn’t necessarily know about it from what most New Yorkers tell other Americans about how they ought to behave.

America finally discovered a non-sanctimonious typical New Yorker and elected him President.

But it’s worth paying attention to what white New Yorkers do rather than what they say. For example, New York City has in recent decades revamped its public schools fairly severely to make them more attractive to the white parents who pay most of the taxes. That is a good thing, and other cities should do it too.

From the NYT:

A Shadow System of Tracking by School Feeds Segregation

By Winnie Hu and Elizabeth A. Harris
June 17, 2018

No other city in the country screens students for as many schools as New York — a startling fact all but lost in the furor that has erupted over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent proposal to change the admissions process for the city’s handful of elite high schools.

One in five middle and high schools in New York, the nation’s largest school district, now choose all of their students based on factors like grades or state test scores. That intensifies an already raw debate about equity, representation and opportunity that has raged since Mr. de Blasio proposed scrapping the one-day test now required to gain entry into New York’s eight elite high schools. Black and Hispanic students are underrepresented in many of the most selective screened middle and high schools, just as they are in the specialized high schools.

… In Seattle, the only screened schools are two elementary schools with accelerated curriculums for “highly capable” students who pass a district-administered gifted test….

Unlike many cities, New York, with its 1.1 million students, also has a large base of middle-class families that attend the public schools, said Richard D. Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation. Screened schools are a way to appeal to them and keep their children in the public schools, especially in a city where public housing projects sit beside million-dollar apartments, he said.

But the result has been that New York, in essence, has replaced tracking within schools with tracking by school, where children with the best records can benefit from advanced classes and active parent and alumni associations. According to the city, of the more than 830 middle schools and high schools, roughly 190 screen all of their students.

In contrast, Los Angeles has perhaps 5% as many screened schools as NYC. (Don’t do what Los Angelenos do: we tend to be stronger at looks than cunning.)

Many of these screened schools are clustered in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with enrollments that are more white, Asian and affluent than the overall school population. …

Until at least the 1970s, most New York City students attended their neighborhood schools. Over the years, more options to these neighborhood schools emerged, often appealing to middle-class families and providing an alternative for families of many backgrounds to large comprehensive schools that were overwhelmed with struggling students, according to educators and parents.

… Then, during Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration, the city required all children to apply to a high school in their eighth-grade year. Students rank up to 12 choices, and then get matched to one school by a special algorithm. The idea was to allow students to escape failing neighborhood schools and apply anywhere they chose.

In the extent of its choice system, New York is unique. Across the country, about three-quarters of all students simply attend their zoned neighborhood schools.

And if you give smart New Yorkers’ choices about how to benefit their kids, they will work out complex, non-obvious system for the smart, rich people to coordinate.

But as students increasingly chose their schools, the system evolved so that many schools became the ones choosing the students.

The number of high schools that admitted students only through academic screening — including the specialized high school exam, other tests and grades, or auditions — has more than tripled to 112 schools in 2017 from 29 schools in 1997, according to an analysis by Sean P. Corcoran, an associate professor of economics and education policy at New York University. Screening requirements vary from school to school, but the most sought-after schools often require at least a 90 average.

“You’ve set up a system of competition among high schools in which the easiest way for a principal to win is to select the students who are best prepared,” Mr. Kahlenberg said. …

The most coveted schools get thousands of aspirants for a limited number of seats and operate like de facto private schools with competitive admissions that can require families to stand in long lines to attend open houses, and pour thousands of dollars into tutors and admissions consultants.

White and Asian students are more likely to go to screened high schools, according to a study that looked at high school placements for the graduating class of 2015 by Measure of America, which is part of the Social Science Research Council. Black and Latino children, on the other hand, most often attended high schools without academic admissions requirements. Poor students were also overrepresented at those schools.

Baruch College Campus High School in Manhattan started out taking students of varying academic abilities, but now requires an average above 90 and high test scores. Its student population is 79 percent white and Asian.

“As a parent, I’m seeing the same level of intensity to get into middle school,” he said. “That’s what baffles me, middle schools are just as competitive as high schools.” …

San Francisco has two screened schools, Lowell High School, which has academic criteria and which Mr. Carranza’s daughter attended, and Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts, a high school that requires an audition or portfolio.

Don’t do what San Franciscans do. San Francisco has terrible public schools. White people in San Francisco are so rich they send their kids to private schools and don’t care about how the public school system is corrupt and feckless.

Do what New Yorkers do.


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