December 20, 2012

Nepotism reinstituted in NYC schools for gifted

A continuing theme at iSteve is: Pay Attention to What New Yorkers Do. I don't emphasize this just to point out hypocrisy, but to furnish lessons for Americans in places where citizens tend to be less clever and less certain that the rules don't really apply to them. 

The decline of NYC in the liberal era of roughly 1965-75 was a self-inflicted tragedy. New York's long climb back has furnished many object lessons in how the world really works, but you have to be willing to read the local news out of New York to figure out what's actually going on as smart white people figure out how to afford to have more than one child in the world's most important city.

Fortunately, the Bloomberg Administration isn't always clear on the concept when it comes to education (as opposed to crime). Bloomberg tends to appoint to education jobs people he and other billionaires consider world class (the guy who prosecuted Microsoft for antitrust, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines). Billionaires don't get together at Jackson Hole to talk about how to fight crime, so Bloomberg does a good job of that. But his billionaire pals have lots of bright ideas about fixing the public schools, so Bloomberg's more clueless education appointees frequently make illustrative mistakes by taking seriously the ideals they hear so much verbiage about, and fixing systems that aren't broken. Then, the upper crust parents who send their kids to public schools have to rebel, and arrangements that would otherwise remain quiet becomes local news.

From the NYT:
A Policy Shift in Programs for the Gifted Is Abandoned 
By AL BAKER 
In a reversal, New York City school officials on Wednesday said they would continue their sibling-preference policy for gifted and talented programs that have more eligible students than seats. 
Amid an explosion in the number of students who qualify for the seats, the city in October said it would end the policy as part of a raft of new changes to the program’s admissions process. School officials at the time said their move would create a fairer system for its highest-performing pupils.

Silly school officials, thinking that "a fairer system" is what the people who matter in New York want for their kids.
But the idea is being abandoned until it can be analyzed more deeply, officials said, a reflection of just how combustible such tweaks can be for programs that serve just a sliver of the system’s 1.1 million students but that are highly coveted by parents. ...
The announcement came three weeks before the start of admissions testing for the programs. Students must score in the 90th percentile on an admissions test to qualify for a district-level gifted program, and in the 97th percentile for one of the citywide programs, like the Anderson School or the Brooklyn School of Inquiry.  
If there are more students who qualify for a gifted program than there are seats, students with a sibling in the program will be admitted first, as long as they obtain a qualifying score. Any remaining seats go to students without siblings in the program, based on who scores highest. The policy aims to keep young siblings together and avoid making parents take children to separate schools. But it also irked the many parents of students who, for example, scored in the 99th percentile, but lost out to other students who scored in the 97th percentile but had a sibling in the program. 
So in the fall, the Education Department did away with the sibling preference “to make it fairer and more equitable for students scoring most high on these exams,” Robert Sanft, the chief executive of the department’s Office of Student Enrollment, said at the time. 
The change drew equal parts praise and condemnation, as did the reversal on Wednesday. 
... But Rachel Fremmer, who has a 7-year-old daughter in the gifted program at Public School 163, in Manhattan, and a 4-year-old daughter in preschool hoping to enroll there next year, was relieved. “It’s great for us,” she said. “A lot of families were desperate to have their children in the same school.”

The nepotism policy makes New York City more competitive with nice suburbs for upper middle class people with more than one child. And upper middle class people with more than one child are, basically, Who You Want.

The advantage of buying an expensive house in a suburb with "good" schools is that all your children can go. In contrast, a test-based gifted program in a large urban school district is fine for people who have one smart kid, but what if your second child isn't as smart? NYC's nepotism policy means that if you can get your first kid into a gifted program, your second or third will probably get in too. (Scoring at the 90th percentile in NYC isn't terribly hard for upper middle class children -- there are a whole lot of public school students in NYC who don't even know anybody at the 90+ percentile), but competing dog-eat-dog against other upper middle class children is much less certain.)

So, the nepotism rule encourages parents who can get their first kid into a gifted program to buy a home, reasonably assured that younger siblings will be grandfathered in to a "good" school as well. This encourages a higher birth rate among the upper middle class.

This isn't terribly fair, but it's probably good for making the city more bourgeois, which is, on the whole, a good thing. Let me commend this to your attention for adoption in your city as well.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Talk about having your cake and eating it too. I thought there's a price you pay to live in the middle of the action. I guess they're making an exception for New York. La Brea next?

Simon in London said...

The old British grammar school system did it best, taking the top 25-30%. This meant that the upper middle class had no problem getting their kids into the same grammar, and bright working class kids could get in too.

Anonymous said...

"...but to furnish lessons for Americans in places where citizens tend to be less clever and less certain that the rules don't really apply to them."

I'm on the left hand side of the bell curve. (I consistently score around 95 on IQ tests. That seems about right for myself.)

What bothers me about things like intelligence realism, HBD etc., are the so called cognitive elites. I've met them. Very few of them struck me as particularly smart.

DJF said...

And NYC elite liberals get to have their neighborhood police stop and frisk anyone who looks "suspicious". That way these liberals won’t have to waste time worrying about local crime but can have the time to worry about racism in flyover country.

dearieme said...

"in the world's most important city": such sarcasm ill becomes you, Mr iSteve.

Ed said...

First, "rebel" has only one "l".

Second, I know that faith in intelligence testing is a theme of this blog, but this argument is taking that to an extreme. These things aren't precise enough so that someone in the 99th percentile is definitely more "gifted" than someone in the 97th percentile. The key is where you (or the bureaucrats) draw the line as to what score qualifies someone to the program or not.

Once someone passes the line, they are qualified for the program. Not enough spaces? Well eventually the solution is to increase the spaces, or raise the bar as to who qualifies so there is a better match between people who qualify and spaces. But when choosing among qualified students for a limited number of spaces, any metric is going to be arbritrary so any metric will be fine. Do it by lottery, auction off the spaces, try to keep children in their neighborhoods or with their families, even use diversity criteria, the unfairness in terms of selecting for intelligence is much less than people here will think. The selection for intelligence already took place once the initial qualifying bar was set.

Anonymous said...

,'90th percentile on an admissions test'

While you do not spell it out, from your commentary I guess the comparison group is just other New Yorkers - rather than using a national group - which is what an SAT would use. But would the plentiful NAMS in NYC even take the test if it is only used for qualifying for a magnet school? Sorry, but I am am a little confused on this.

Still, the nepotism point is well taken.

Bostonian said...

Typo "rebel" not "rebell". (No need to post comment.)

Shouting Thomas said...

How many generations does it take to forget the lesson that NY's self-destruction imparted?

I no longer live in the city. The kids right out of college that I was working with 10 years ago no longer had any direct experience with the bad old days of the 70s. They thought the graffiti, crime, wide open drug selling and prostitution must have been quite romantic.

So, when will the memory of the catastrophe of liberal good intentions completely evaporate?

Anonymous said...

I just don't get why they can't expand programs or have more schools if they have enough kids to populate them. Why do they only have 500 seats in a school for the gifted if there are 1500 qualified kids in the neighborhood? Open another similar school a few blocks away, not way on the other side of town. Come on, all those bright folks should be able to figure this out.

Anonymous said...

The decline of NYC in the liberal era of roughly 1965-75 was a self-inflicted tragedy. New York's long climb back has furnished many object lessons in how the world really works, but you have to be willing to read the local news out of New York to figure out what's actually going on as smart white people figure out how to afford to have more than one child in the world's most important city.

Didn't I read that NYC might have taxed its way out of that spot?

Certainly London seems to be experiencing such problems and financial firms seem to be fleeing NYC.

Brazilian said...

'70s NYC was in the path of becoming the next Detroit but Rupert Murdoch supported the most fiscally conservative Democrat (fomer mayor Ed Koch) to avoid this faith.

peterike said...

You'd think the NY liberals would figure out the impact of massive illegal immigration into the city. First, the waves of Hispanics suck tremendous resources out of the system, resources that could go to adding seats to Rebecca and Jacob's gifted school.

Second, New York has loads and loads of illegal Asians. And since the school system makes no distinction between legal and illegal, those Asians get to compete with the smart Jews and WASPs (and one supposes a smart, wealthy Catholic here and there).

If the white power brokers had any sense, they would campaign against admitting illegals into the school system. But you can't go against SWPL multi-cult doctrine, even if it means disadvantaging your own kids, so they resort to fighting it out at other levels and leaving the most obvious route alone.

kaganovitch said...

Bravo! This is why Steve is the best blogger around.

Porter said...

And if those gifted schools in NYC don't "look like America?" Will the reverends come a-rhyming? I suspect they innately shrink from preying on the young of the planet's apex hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

"Cathy O’Neil: Why Nate Silver is Not Just Wrong, but Maliciously Wrong"

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/12/cathy-oneil-why-nate-silver-is-not-just-wrong-but-maliciously-wrong.html

Porter said...

I would like to see NYC gifted classes integrated at gunpoint by federal troops. Perhaps Bloomberg would deliver a firery oration culminating with "Hypocrisy now, hypocrisy tomorrow, hypocrisy forever!"

Jehu said...

Politically-allocated goods aren't about fairness. They're about who...whom. Non-elite white people need to realize this and demand they they become part of the who instead of the whom.

Veracitor said...

You can explain more than just primary school admissions by looking at nepotism, which is really an example of evolution in action.

Parents wish their children to do well. However, reversion toward the mean predicts that the children of gifted parents will average a bit less gifted than their parents. So far as natural selection is concerned, "doing well" is relative, not absolute, so parents want to shield their own offspring from stronger competitors. Even parents who themselves rose by talent and who advocate an open society (for themselves, at least) are always looking for ways to transmit their own or higher status to their children whether or not the sprogs "deserve" it in some abstract philosophical sense.

I think nepotism has driven the expansion of the American "non-profit" sector and the moralistic propaganda which promotes it. It's the 21st Century version of the old aristocratic balderdash about avoiding the "taint" of "trade." Trade is competitive, so powerful people having offspring of mediocre gifts must disparage it, lest their little darlings enter and lose some competition.

The whole point of the non-profit sector is for rich parents to endow phony charities which will employ their own kin in "leadership" jobs that confer high pay and social status but exclude competition by producing nothing measurable. Such jobs are filled purely by connections, of course, since that is the whole point.

The propaganda necessary to maintain the social status of the trust-fund kids has the side effect of enticing middle-class kids to compete for(!) supporting-role jobs at non-profits. Oh well, at least some of them will get to marry into trust-fund families, and the rest will brag to their friends about how they have avoided doing any nasty productive work.

The diversion of resources into sinecures for rich kids and the even more pernicious effects of those rich kids using their status (and often some of Dad's money) to lobby politicians to spend other people's money on their harebrained schemes is bad for society, but natural selection never promised you a rose garden.

(Incidentally, the open-borders crowd are working for the trust-funders-- importing helots to labor for, but not compete with, the offspring of the rich.)

Svigor said...

A continuing theme at iSteve is: Pay Attention to What New Yorkers Do. I don't emphasize this just to point out hypocrisy, but to furnish lessons for Americans in places where citizens tend to be less clever and less certain that the rules don't really apply to them.

Indeed. In fact, the only reason I'm so heavily into the former is to feed into the latter.

Under JRA, whites can't afford to be freirs. Time for us to elbow into the game. Thing is, once we do, we'll eat their lunch.

Anonymous said...

"This isn't terribly fair, but it's probably good or making the city more bourgeois, which is, on the whole, a good thing."

Good for them, not good for us. As liberal elites can 'have the cake and eat it too', there's less need for them to be conservative.

Giuliani should never have saved NY city. It should have been allowed to rot. And then many libs would have been forced to the right.

So, cons... stop helping liberals to clean up cities.

sestamibi said...

Both my brother and I attended Bronx HS of Science back in the day, but nepotism was not involved because he started after I graduated. I can assure anyone reading this also, that we were nowhere near the desired bourgeois class referred to herein.

I do, however, wonder what exactly constitutes a school for the "gifted" in New York these days. Brooklyn School of Inquiry??!?!???

I haven't lived in New York in years, but it seems to be that the pretentiousness level runs inversely with the capabilities of the students in attendance. I once read a comment to an article on American Renaissance referring collectively to such schools as "Ghettoville Magnet Comprehensive Career Academy for the Arts, Science, Mathematics and Music."

Carol said...

That Cathy O'Neil link is definitely worth the time.

Anonymous said...

those Asians get to compete with the smart Jews and WASPs (and one supposes a smart, wealthy Catholic here and there).

There aren't many WASPs there anymore. There are more smart, wealthy Catholics, with a WASP here and there.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone suggested straight ahead admissions bias on the part of the gay friendly left as the principal reason Yale has a high percentage of gay students. Wouldn't it be easy to use everyday gay-dar during personal interviews to advantage gay students in the process? It appears that gay bias seems to be the expectation for astute applicants; a blog post considers whether or not yale applicants should be overt about being gay, concluding that that strategy may work if it appears they are fighting anti-gay bias somehow or other, such as by being from a less tolerant country. You would start your essay then, "as a lesbian Iranian..." Yale medical school has also indicated they will be looking to advantage gay students.

The stated motive would be that "compromising the fairness of the admissions process is necessary so that more gay people receive the extraordinary advantage of Yale branding as an entre into important positions in the law, media, acadamia and government, where they can then use their power in further support of the gay and related multicultural agendas."

Anonymous said...

Should an independent firm assess applicant estimability, social maturity, and leadership disposition, providing quanitative personality scores (800 for maturity, 650 body language) along with grades and SATs. This might limit potential for the personal interview to be used as a pretext for discrimination. We could also find out if asian kids are really underrepresented in the ivies relative to their abilities, or if they are booksmart but lacking in social sophistication.

Brazilian said...

And if those gifted schools in NYC don't "look like America?" Will the reverends come a-rhyming? I suspect they innately shrink from preying on the young of the planet's apex hypocrites.

Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are in Ed Koch (with means Murdoch) pocket.

Joe Six-Pack said...

There aren't many WASPs there anymore. There are more smart, wealthy Catholics, with a WASP here and there.

Italians and Jews rule NYC today... The irony is that they formed the criminal underclass of NYC in the beginning of the 20th century.

Chief Seattle said...

Off Topic: Steve, do you have any thoughts on what is going on with the "Magnitsky Bill" passed on Dec 14 to which requires the Obama administration to publish the names of Russians that were involved in the torture and death of Russian whistle blower Sergei Magnitsky? Now Vladimir Putin has responded by banning U.S. adoption of Russian children. Seems like theater of the absurd, except that it's getting a lot of press coverage. Sergei worked for a Russian law firm that represented a U.K. based investment firm, Hermitage Capital Management, one of whose founders is Bill Browder, grandson of Earl Browder, a leader of the U.S. communist party. Maybe there's nothing to it, but I wouldn't be too surprised if Larry Summers turned up somewhere in the mix.

Anonymous said...

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2009/05/13/dolphins_are_violent_predators_that_kill_their_own_babies.html

Youths of the sea.

Anonymous said...


"Italians and Jews rule NYC today..."

Jews rule and Italians get a piece of the pie for having worked with Jews to push aside the old elites.

Anonymous said...

You'd think the NY liberals would figure out the impact of massive illegal immigration into the city. ....
If the white power brokers had any sense, they would campaign against admitting illegals into the school system.


The "white" power brokers of NY City, such as they are (Scots Irish) have a peculiar affection for displacement-level immigration. It has been proven to displace blacks from the NYC surroundings and to disempower and displace white from the power structures of their own nation.

Anonymous said...

Having the #1 city in the country be a mega-Detroit (true in the 70's; I lived here then) isn't good for the country. I think a functional nation requires at least one city where the elite feel comfortable, and that is the role that NYC has resumed. I remember in the 70's when people would talk about how great NYC had been in the 50's, and it seemed like it would never come back.

On Steve's favorite topic (how a city that votes 80% for Obama has elected Republican mayors for 20! years): we now have a Republican running who might win. His name is Joe Lhota, he was a Deputy mayor under Giuliani, he was recently head of the NY subway system and got it functioning within a couple of days after Sandy (a truly remarkable accomplishment). He is getting great write-ups in all the major media here.

All the whites, both elites and working class, will vote for Lhota. The Democratic candidates include a neon-haired Lesbian and some minorities. It will be close, but Lhota is already given an excellent chance.

As Steve often points out, it's fine to vote for a liberal for president, senator, etc, but when it comes to your own city (if you're not on welfare) you want somebody who will make it more livable -- a Republican. This is going to be interesting.

Anonymous said...

I think a functional nation requires at least one city where the elite feel comfortable, and that is the role that NYC has resumed. I remember in the 70's when people would talk about how great NYC had been in the 50's, and it seemed like it would never come back.

NYC is essentially an international city, and its "elite" residents don't really represent the nation. A "functional nation" would have a national city that was more representative of the nation, no?

Anonymous said...

"These things aren't precise enough so that someone in the 99th percentile is definitely more "gifted" than someone in the 97th percentile."

that's a difference of an SD or thereabout. Surely the test can be borked, which anyway is a moot point since the early childhood IQ isn't a great predictor of adulthood.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/nyregion/01gifted.html?_r=0

http://occidentalascent.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/the-facts-that-need-to-be-explained/

Anonymous said...

NYC is essentially an international city, and its "elite" residents don't really represent the nation. A "functional nation" would have a national city that was more representative of the nation, no?

Not only do the ruling class of NYC not represent the nation, they fear and despise it.

"Fly over country."

beowulf said...

"If the white power brokers had any sense, they would campaign against admitting illegals into the school system."
An obvious solution perhaps, but also an unconstitutional one.

The court majority found that the Texas law was "directed against children, and impose[d] its discriminatory burden on the basis of a legal characteristic over which children can have little control" — namely, the fact of their having been brought illegally into the United States by their parents. The majority also observed that denying the children in question a proper education would likely contribute to "the creation and perpetuation of a subclass of illiterates within our boundaries, surely adding to the problems and costs of unemployment, welfare, and crime."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plyler_v._Doe

Other One said...

Nah, Meritocracy is what ultimately serves us best. Trading one set of preferences for another just leads to another disenfranchised, pissed off group. And there are a lot of yuppies with just 1 kid.

Nightvision said...

Its funny the contortions that liberals go through for them and their families to live in a whites and Asians only world, while outwardly supporting preferences for NAMs.

If they can have their cake and eat it too in this circumstance, what is the real difference between this and a 'no blacks allowed' school of the past, other than Asians and the 1 in 10,000 black?

Sun Wukong said...

I don't know, if NYC keeps importing the third world, things like this really won't matter, the libs will screw up NYC anyway... .

JSM said...

"in the world's most important city": such sarcasm ill becomes you, Mr iSteve."

I beg to differ. It well becomes him.

Git 'em, Steve!

Anonymous said...

Superb post, Steve. It's a prime exhibit of your well-practiced gift for looking and actually seeing, and then clearly telling the truth.

Excellent comment from Veracitor at 11:05 as well. You certainly don't see those trust fund kids working for the Salvation Army, do you?

Marc B said...

"A "functional nation" would have a national city that was more representative of the nation, no"?

Chicago should be that city, but unfortunately it's not.

Steve Sailer said...

Back in the 1970s, one of the big networks tried moving its news operation to Chicago to get more in touch with the middle of America. Didn't take, though. But Americans don't really dislike Chicago. Being associated with Chicago has worked out very well for some middle class blacks: Michael Jordan, Oprah, and Obama. Hard to say if that represents a pattern or a fluke.

OSS said...

I don't know, if NYC keeps importing the third world, things like this really won't matter, the libs will screw up NYC anyway... .

The third world has already been imported to NYC, and things have been screwed up for everyone but the 1%. As planned. What the 1% needs out of NYC is a functioning police department to keep the rabble in line, which they do.

Good public school, safe public transportation and affordable housing don't matter to the 1%, so those items remain busted.

toto said...

"On Steve's favorite topic (how a city that votes 80% for Obama has elected Republican mayors for 20! years):..."

That might be because these Republican mayors were actually centrists, as opposed to the Republican presidential candidates who consistently run on a Know-Nothing platform (except for McCain, but no Republican was going to win this one).

Romney is a case in point. NY state voters could have voted for the Romney who actually governed Massachusetts. They were never going to vote for the Tea Partier in chief who won the Republican primary by out-know-nothinging Newt Gingrich.

Also: Liberals killed NYC? Please. The guy who hired Raymond Kelly, started pumping up the police force and cleaned up Times Square was a Black Democrat who had no problem called himself a socialist.

Anonymous said...

Poor little rich kid, dumber than this sister, who got into the school with high grades, at home, and dumber than the other kids in his class.

Anonymous said...

Shouting Thomas, you can thank recovered heroin addicts like Tony Bourdain for waxing nostalgic about the "gritty" NYC of the Seventies.

As someone occasionally visiting from Boston during my college years to hit CBGB and Max's (much better than CBGB to see the punk/New Wave bands), most of the city outside Manhattan was an drug-infested, violent shithole.

Anonymous said...

"If they can have their cake and eat it too in this circumstance, what is the real difference between this and a 'no blacks allowed' school of the past, other than Asians and the 1 in 10,000 black?" - Cost.

Svigor said...

Being associated with Chicago has worked out very well for some middle class blacks: Michael Jordan, Oprah, and Obama. Hard to say if that represents a pattern or a fluke.

Competent, inoffensive blacks are much harder to come by than the same from other races. They'll take 'em from wherever the hell they can get them.

bdoran said...

I think you'll see some movement on restoring our mental Health systems now; meaning confinement for the dangerous. Now most of the dangerous mentally ill who are confined are confined in prison. I think this will happen along the same lines crime was tamed in NYC. For you see a sacred Liberal Enclave [CT] has been breached, along with the sacred temple of the Successful Single Mother violated. The trick for the rest of the country will be in duplicating whatever the Liberals do to protect themselves and not listening to what they say. See NYC and crime. Generally the more aggressive policies weren't duplicated as successfully, as the rest of the country hasn't gotten the memo about the Constitution et al; do NOT let the rules apply to YOU.

Matthew said...

"I think a functional nation requires at least one city where the elite feel comfortable, and that is the role that NYC has resumed"

You imply we have a functional nation.

Arguably, I'd prefer that the elites not feel too comfortable anywhere. The better to keep them in line.

Matthew said...

Creating "magnet schools" is the traditional way for upper class liberals, esp. Jews, to escape the consequences of policies they choose to impose on everyone else. It's what they did in the Southern city I lived in for a few years. Since the average IQs of upper class whites differ from blacks by about 2 SDs, it's pretty much guaranteed your kids wwon't have to go to school with lots of black kids. Lower middle and even middle class whites don't have the same guarantee.

I lived in a heavily Jewish neighborhood for a few years, and my secular Jewish neighbor - quite literally a card-carrying ACLU member (he kept their magazines on his coffee table) - sent his son to the magnet school, conveniently located near all the synagogues in town. His son got kicked out of the program because of his grades. He somehow managed to get his son into the neighboring, much whiter school district rather than send him to school with a bunch of blacks.

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