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Op-ed: de Blasio’s Race-based School Admissions Policy Is “Anti-racist.” Or something.

Op-ed: de Blasio’s Race-based School Admissions Policy Is “Anti-racist.” Or something.

“Asian-Americans must build cross-racial, intra-racial and cross-class solidarities with other groups”

De Blasio Big Gulp

A couple of weeks ago, we covered New York City mayor Bill de Blasio’s “two-pronged plan” to “diversify” NYC’s elite public high schools.  These schools are considered elite not only for exceptional academic rigor but because they accept only those who excel on a standardized test.

De Blasio’s plan requires that these schools reserve 20% of their seats for students from low-income minority middle schools who do not pass the test, let alone excel on it.  Instead, the schools are required to admit these particular students if they manage to almost score the lowest possible passing score.  The second part of his plan is to eliminate the standardized test altogether.

The assumption being the same one that socialists always make in one form or another and that is always proven wrong:  if we force elite schools to accept students who cannot possibly succeed there, the schools will maintain the same standards and remain “elite.”  That never happens.  What does happen is that the standards drop to accommodate the least able students (this is how we get rampant grade inflation and ultimately college graduates who cannot write coherent prose).

Even if we accept that forcing elite public high schools to accept students who cannot earn even the bare minimum score on a standardized test will somehow remain academically rigorous and turn out graduates who are prepared for transition to a good college (these do still exist), we are left with the problem of government forcing schools to accept students on the basis of race and class and to do so at the expense of students who excel on the standardized test.

And therein lies the controversy, de Blasio’s plan unfairly disadvantages Asian-American (and white) students who are better prepared for academic success at that level, who do better on the entrance test, and who will be most likely to excel academically.

Minh-Ha T. Pham‘s op-ed at the New York Times challenges the idea that de Blasio’s plan is “Anti-Asian” and insists that it is instead “anti-racist.”

Unfortunately, some Asian-American parents in New York are protesting this proposal, arguing that it is anti-Asian because it would decrease the number of Asian children in elite schools. They are on the wrong side of this educational fight.

The mayor’s plan isn’t anti-Asian, it’s anti-racist. It would give working-class parents — including Asian-Americans — who can’t afford and shouldn’t have to find ways to afford expensive test prep programs a fairer chance that their child will be admitted into what’s known as a specialized high school. True, taking a test prep course doesn’t guarantee admission to such a school, but it does offer clear benefits and is widely understood to be essential to test-takers.

Nor is the plan a form of affirmative action. Affirmative-action admission policies — like those in place at some universities — require that race be one part of a host of measures considered. Mr. de Blasio’s plan doesn’t stipulate any racial criterion for admission, much less racial quotas (which the Supreme Court outlawed in 1978). The plan will simply give kids from a wider variety of backgrounds access to a public resource: an excellent public high school education. This is a public resource, something all New York City families contribute to with their taxes. Only about 5 percent of all New York City high school students are enrolled in a specialized high school and last year half of these kids came from just 21 middle schools.

A logical solution would be to look at the other NYC middles schools and improve those so that they are better preparing their students for academic excellence.  But that is never the progressive solution, as I noted previously.

Rather than addressing the core issue of minority student preparedness, the progressive answer is always to level the playing field to the lowest common denominator. Their reasoning is implicit: these racial minorities cannot possibly achieve success on their own; we have to enforce “a fair and even playing field” to make up for their overwhelming inadequacies.

As a result of this (implicitly racist) thinking, the progressive line is always: Let’s not waste time and resources lifting up minorities in academic preparedness, let’s instead eliminate standards that require any standard of academic preparedness in favor of “racial equality.”

In order to stamp out the SJW brigade’s favorite straw boogeyman—the “racist system” based on white privilege, Pham proposes that “Asian-Americans must build cross-racial, intra-racial and cross-class solidarities with other groups.”

Asian-Americans, in other words, must embrace losing their hard-earned place at NYC’s highly competitive and prestigious elite public schools in a show of “racial solidarity” with other minorities as they join the war against white privilege.

She concludes her op-ed:

In other words, Asian-American critics of Mr. de Blasio’s plan are arguing to preserve a racist system in which whites, not Asians, are on top. They may gain short-term goals (a seat at a prestigious school) but they lose the long game of acquiring more seats for everyone: middle- class and working-class black, Latinos, American Indians, whites — and yes, other Asian-Americans, especially those from Southeast Asia, whose educational achievement, income and employment rates are significantly below their East and South Asian American counterparts while their incarceration rates are higher. To gain more seats, Asian-Americans must build cross-racial, intra-racial and cross-class solidarities with other groups.

The Specialized High Schools Admissions Test is an instrument for the uneven distribution of a public resource. It perpetuates and legitimizes the already uneven distribution of other public resources and services. Getting rid of it means that more kids will have a bit more access to the best of what this city has to offer.

Opposing the mayor’s plan isn’t the right fight. The right fight is for the improvement of all of our public schools.

That “fight” for the “improvement of all our public schools” is the worst type of cheap, lazy conclusion.  Pham doesn’t advocate anything of the kind; indeed, she, like de Blasio, steadfastly ignores the idea of improving NYC’s public middle schools to better prepare all students to compete for the limited available slots in the city’s elite public high schools.

The bottom line appears to be that admitting minority students who cannot earn even a minimum passing score on the standardized test, a move that has the largest impact on Asian-Americans who statistically excel on the test, is a good kind of racism.  Apparently, well-intentioned racism that harms one race but helps other minority races is not racist at all and should be welcomed with open-armed self-sacrifice (martyrdom?) by the minority community most harmed.


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Political machine mouthpiece to Asian parents: Offer (your) children in sacrifice to this god.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Squires. | June 23, 2018 at 9:41 pm

    It sounds to me like intelligent people with smart kids need to leave cities. There is nothing more important that our children being able to achieve their full potential.

    That is what we did in the sixties.

nordic_prince | June 23, 2018 at 6:48 pm

Of course, if the Leftists truly believe that the test prep classes are essentially the determining factor in who does and doesn’t get admitted, they could offer vouchers for poor minorities to attend said prep classes. That would increase the likelihood of these kids getting a passing score and actually doing well in a rigorous school, and nobody’s standards would have to be lowered.

Nah, that makes too much sense. Much easier to pontificate the tests are biased or something, and let unqualified kids in. Besides, attending test prep sounds suspiciously like work and meritocracy, and for all our talk of tolerance, work and merit are things we can’t tolerate. That’s too close to asking people to be responsible.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to nordic_prince. | June 24, 2018 at 9:35 am

    We should abolish all Affirmative action. Schooling, jobs and all of life should be about rewarding those who study and work hard. I have no problem with making afterschool programs or other remedial learning opportunities available. Actual acceptance should be based solely on a person’s performance.

    Albigensian in reply to nordic_prince. | June 25, 2018 at 9:45 am

    An inexpensive test-prep book has never been shown to be any less effective than costly test-prep courses. And (of course) if you borrow the test-prep book from a school or public library it costs nothing at all.

    Other than the motivation to make good use of it, of course. Yet the availability of low-cost yet effective test prep. has never silenced the anti-test mob (and likely ever will).

    Besides, rewarding motivation as well as aptitude would be, well, umm, racist, wouldn’t it?

Oh, i understand they must all become democrats and talk jive, be lazy, and underachievers.

Bringing chronic underachievers into school which is achievement driven always results in the same thing, the reduction of that school to the same level of mediocrity found in the rest of the school system.

Here’s how this always works. A group of people from a specific minority are granted admission even though they can not pass the test for entry. Once in the academic setting, most of this group is unable, or unwilling, to perform anywhere near the level of those gaining entry on the basis of actual achievement. But, these minority participants can not be dismissed from the program as this would send a negative message concerning the ability of this minority to achieve. This last part is important to those who used racial, gender, ethnic or religious identity as a determining factor in admissions in the first place. So, the standards for advancement are reduced. When this happens, admission to the school or program becomes much less desirable. Those who are able leave the school system and go into private schools, leaving the mediocre to people the public schools.

The only thing racist about this is De Blasio’s and Pham’s assertion that blacks are inherently inferior when it comes to academic achievement and thus can only excel through affirmative action in a standard free world!

In general, we as Americans are very uncomfortable with the notion of intelligence. Unfortunately for us, intelligence is real and is not equally distributed. Also unfortunately, we will go to great lengths and great costs to avoid dealing with reality. Sad.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to Anonamom. | June 23, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    It is a fact that different groups and races have varying average IQ, with the lowest being Africa and the Middle East. It appears that evolation created a succession of more intelligent groups.

    Ashkenazi Jews Average IQ 112-115
    Asians 106
    Caucasian 100
    Hispanics 87
    American Blacks 85
    Palestinians 83.5
    Puerto Ricans 83
    Africa 85 to 59

    Granted, it is tough to be on the wrong side of the Bell Curve, but denial will not fix that reality.

      tom_swift in reply to JohnSmith100. | June 23, 2018 at 10:28 pm

      At best, this is only accurate for aggregates. I like to remember that the best college professor I ever saw was a black (there were no “African-Americans” in those days) who taught solid mechanics at MIT. He wasn’t the most generally inspiring, and not the one with the most astounding range and depth of knowledge, but when it came to making annoying mathematical concepts clear to a roomful of chronically sleep-deprived undergraduates, he was without peer. He was a sartorial standout as well … leather pants and embroidered silk disco shirts were certainly different from the usual regimental rep ties and herringbone tweeds of most of the professoriate … but he—and his students—never let that get in the way of education.

      He may have been in the last cohort to go through the educational system before Affirmative Action. Nowadays, he’d probably be submerged in the swamp of AA nobodies. A waste of intelligence, talent, and hard work.

        JusticeDelivered in reply to tom_swift. | June 24, 2018 at 10:39 am

        There is a Bell Curve for each group, where there are both smarter and duler individuals. The lower the average IQ of a group, the lower per capita rate of their producing higher IQ individuals.

        The problem with Affirmative Action goals is that any group with a lower average IQ will be incapable of achieving equal representation in more demanding professions.

        If we see a really high achieving genius like Einstein once every century or so, that same level of intelligence will only occur once every 1500 to perhaps 2000 centuries in brown groups, and by the same token, will occur more frequently in Asians and Germanic Jews.

        Trying to ignore these differences is like placing a student on a career path where they are not smart enough to to perform well in that career. Doing this does an injustice to both the individual and society.

Asian privilege.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to n.n. | June 24, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Yep, privilege to work hard and pay for society’s deadbeats. We have short circuited evolution, it is time we return to the good old days when evolution was able to fix stupid.

Sad Unfortunately, none of this is new. I went to Bronx Science in the mid-60s and remember a “Save Our School” rally back then. The only thing different was the composition of the student body, which was then 70% Jewish, but the effort to undermine the specialized high schools in New York was just as active.
Back then the legislature prevented the city educational establishment from following through in its plan by passing the Hecht-Calandra Act, which mandates entrance to the specialized high schools by competitive exam only, but also provides for set-aside spaces for underprivileged kids.
The legislature back then was controlled by the Republicans in both houses, but today a radical Third World-oriented Democratic contingent controls the Assembly by a wide margin, and the GOP the senate by a single vote of a renegade Democrat. As one of its final acts this session, the Assembly Education Committee voted to repeal the Hecht-Calandra Act, but Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, good Bronxite that he is, refused to bring the bill to a vote.
I wouldn’t count on the specialized high schools being around much longer. Their existence hurts too many feelings.

Quite a program—destroy any education which manages to rise above a very low common denominator, and at the same time debase “minority” populations by treating them like useless shuffle-butts too dumb to even get out of their own way without a helping hand from Big Brother. Nurture a perpetual underclass of surly peasants while simultaneously ensuring that nobody, even the smart ones … especially the smart ones … learns anything much. Very efficient. If the goal is the “fundamental transformation” of the country, the Progressives remain right on track.

    CalFed in reply to tom_swift. | June 25, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    And yet, some people justified Harvard’s blatant discrimination against Asian American applicants by describing them as “hard-working automatons, all following the same checklist with near-superhuman devotion” and deriding their “sameness”.

    Ring any bells, Tom?

“should be welcomed with open-armed self-sacrifice by the minority community most harmed”

Wasn’t forcing people to extol the virtues of being screwed by the system a classic psychological technique employed by the communists?

thalesofmiletus | June 24, 2018 at 5:06 am

[[[…if we force elite schools to accept students who cannot possibly succeed there, the schools will maintain the same standards and remain “elite.” That never happens.]]]

That principle applies to Western nations and non-Western immigrants.

Many Asian families place a very high value on education and the Tiger parents make the kids work their tails off to excel academically. So it has nothing to do with “racism.” It has to do with sacrifice, hard work, and priorities, and family tradition and culture.

I guess we’re going to piss all over that eh DeBlasio?

The soft bigotry of low expectations is alive and well with the Dumb-o-crats, who will never be able to reconcile themselves to colorblind, merit-based standards of achievement, in any context.

Everything must be reduced to an issue of racial tribalism and alleged victimhood.

Your kids and those of your family, first. You and yours make the sacrifice and then you can tell others what to do.

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
Racism is Anti-racism.

What happens to the temperature of hot coffee if you add ice?
1. Coffee temperature increases
2. Coffee temperature stays the same
3. Coffee temperature drops

Albigensian | June 25, 2018 at 9:51 am

Apparently the legal principle is that “disparate impact” is practically impossible to defend if/when the impact is adverse for a protected group.

But if/when the disparate impact affects only a non-protected group, it’s OK to use it. Even if the disparate impact is huge, and the measure was clearly designed to produce that effect.

Is it necessary to point out that we have 30+ years of muddled Supreme Court rulings to thank for this?

Interesting companion piece to the thread about Harvard’s discrimination against Asian American applicants, who routinely score highest on all objectively measurable criteria (GPA, test scores, extra-curricular activities), but then receive very low scores on subjective personality traits such as “courage”, “likeability”, “kindness”, and being “widely respected”. These personality traits were frequently rated by admissions personnel who had never met the applicant whom they were rating.