Reblogging about gifted programs
I think this topic is important enough that it deserves a less snarky blog post than the one I wrote yesterday.
Let’s start by discussing bobo attitudes. Back in the 1970s, New York City was seen as a place that people wanted to get out of. They wanted to move to nice suburbs. In the 1970s, John Carpenter wrote the screenplay for Escape from New York which takes place in a future 1990s where Manhattan sank so far in crime that it became one huge prison island. There was also the 1974 movie Death Wish in which Charles Bronson plays a professional living in Manhattan whose wife is killed by muggers, and then he becomes a vigilante who brings justice to the criminal scum.
Things have changed drastically since the 1970s. Today we have bobos, and bobos want to live in Manhattan or the trendy parts of Brooklyn. But this creates a problem for bobos with children. Where to they send their children to school? There’s the perception among bobos that the New York City schools are somehow “bad,” and the perceived badness of a particular school seems to be strongly correlated with the percentage of poor black and Hispanic students. Bobos with money send their children to private school. Bobos who don’t make enough money to afford private school face quite a dilemma.
The New York Times article is about the “gifted programs” in the public schools. These gifted programs have created a public school alternative that’s acceptable to some bobos, so long as their children qualify for the gifted program. Currently, the qualification is based on scoring in the 90th percentile or higher on a nationally standardized test. This was implemented in 2008. The old method gave more latitude to the schools. It was thought that removing discretion from the school teachers and using a test instead would remove racial bias from the process, but strangely the opposite happened, and now with standardized testing there are fewer black and Hispanic children in the gifted programs than there were before.
Some liberals really hate the idea of gifted programs because they “segregate” children into Asian and white “gifted” classes and black and Hispanic general education classes. Al Baker, the journalist who wrote the article, seems to be on the side of the liberals. But I need to point out that Al is not one of those spoiled rich kid journalists. His father was a cop.
Anyway, liberals really hate gifted programs, so there are these people out there who would like to abolish gifted programs in order to make the schools more egalitarian. Some conservative readers may think that there is some hypocrisy involved. Do any of the white liberals complaining about gifted programs allow their own children to attend school in the general education classes where they may be the only white kid? The answer is probably not, although there may be a tiny handful of such liberals who are so committed to the ideal of egalitarianism that they do allow their kids to attend such classes. But these liberals do not see themselves as hypocrites. They would like nothing more than to have their children attend school with smart and well behaved black children like Malia and Sasha Obama, it’s just that the children attending the general education classes in the public schools in New York City don’t seem to be like the Obamas. They blame Republicans for being too cheap to properly fund government programs that would solve these social programs.
Bloomberg, who is the bobo mayor, probably wouldn’t get behind a movement to abolish gifted classes. Just as he stuck up for the biggest bobo sporting event, the New York Marathon, he will stick up for gifted classes. Bloomberg wants to help the poorer students by prohibiting them from drinking large sodas and implementing other measures to prevent them from becoming fat slobs.
The existence of gifted programs with a 90th percentile cutoff doesn’t help all bobos, because what about boos whose children score below the 90th percentile? Although a surprisingly large percentage, much larger than 10%, of bobo parents have children who score in the 90th percentile, there are still many whose children just aren’t smart enough to score in the top 10%. The article implies that these parents do not allow their children attend New York City public school in the regular classes. These parents, apparently, either move out of the city to the suburbs, or they manage to reach into their pockets and find the money for private school tuition.