April 9, 2013

NYT: All we have to do to fix the schools is make the whole country as rich as the hedge fund capital

From the New York Times Magazine:
Who Knew Greenwich, Conn., Was a Model of Equality? 
... I had long known that Greenwich — with its grand estates — was ground zero for the 1 percent, but I was surprised to learn that nearly 4 percent of its residents live below the poverty line. “It takes a lot of labor to run those estates,” says Bob Arnold, president of Family Centers, a nonprofit social-service agency there. “They need housekeepers, cooks, landscapers.” I figured that many of those lower-income workers commuted from nearby places like White Plains, N.Y., or Stamford, Conn., where the rents are much cheaper. And many certainly do, but Arnold told me that the families who opt to live just on the Greenwich side of the New York border or in the apartments above the stores on Greenwich Avenue, fit a very specific profile: they pay the costs to have access to the schools that Greenwich’s high property-tax base affords.
What Greenwich doesn’t have is an abundance of affordable housing. Megan Sweeney, a director at Family Centers, explained that information about them is often guarded by family members or close friends. The Bonillas (a handyman from Spain) moved to Greenwich only because Veronica’s sister, Mercy Llerena, a manager of a private estate, went there from White Plains after marrying a man in town. ...
The Bonillas and Rozende felt lucky to have children in Greenwich. But historically speaking, researchers haven’t been so sure that it is beneficial to enroll low-income children in wealthier schools. A lot of sociological data, dating to the definitive Coleman Report of 1966, which studied the outcomes of 570,000 students, show that a child’s success in school, more than anything, was determined by her parents’ wealth and education level. So in the decades after the report was issued, attention was lavished on various reforms and integrating schools according to race, not economics. 
New research, however, suggests that economic integration may be the answer. Recently, Heather Schwartz, a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, began studying the public-school system of Montgomery County, Md. The county, a suburb of Washington, has one of the most affluent populations in America and an innovative housing authority that allows low-income citizens to rent homes alongside wealthier neighbors at steeply discounted prices. The renters are randomly assigned to different parts of the county; some Montgomery County schools have many poor students, others have almost none. In 2009, Schwartz concluded that students from poor families did much better in predominantly wealthy schools than in predominantly poor ones. On average, the poorer children in wealthier schools cut their achievement gap in half compared with their peers in poorer schools. 
The same thing is happening at Greenwich High. Around 13 percent of the school’s students receive free or discounted lunches, a commonly used proxy for low income. And more than three-quarters of those students scored at or above proficiency on the most recent statewide 10th-grade performance tests. At nearby Stamford High School, where nearly 70 percent of students are on the lunch program, almost half the students failed to meet proficiency levels. 
Schwartz still isn’t exactly sure why poor kids do so much better when they are surrounded by wealthier ones, but the stability of wealthier districts probably plays a role. (“High-poverty schools are often lurching from crisis to crisis,” she told me.) As such, there is now a small but fast-growing effort to integrate schools on economic lines.
There is a tricky balance, however. If too many poor students are added to a high-income school, it would eventually become a low-income school; too few, and they may feel isolated. Schwartz says her research suggests that a possible solution is to encourage economic integration across school-district borders: students in the Bronx, say, could be invited to attend New Rochelle’s public schools and bring its low-income population up to 20 percent.

Okay, but New Rochelle has a population of 77,000, while the Bronx has a population of 1,408,000.

The reality is that we're running out of non-low income public school students with which to mix low-income students. Back in 2000, 38.3% of all public school students in the country. were eligible for free or reduced price school lunches. A decade later 48.0% were eligible. So, there's roughly one low income public school student for every non-low income public school student.

Good luck with the magic of Economic Integration with those numbers.

In general, I find that pundits frequently have a model in their head where "minorities," whether racial or economic, must be very minor in numbers. I mean, they're minorities, right? So their impact has to be, by definition, minor. Minorities couldn't possibly have had anything significant to do with the housing bubble, for example, because they are so rare. Thus, it likewise couldn't hurt to mix the minor number of minorities in with the majority of students who are, obviously white and comfortable.

This worldview can easily co-exist in the same skull with the Hispanic Electoral Tidal Wave and the notion that whites are obsolete and dying out and good riddance.

It's not hard to grasp whether something is considered Good or Bad and that's all that counts, not reality.


Anonymous said...

The reason why that public schools (in the American sense) catering to mostky to scions of the educated and wealthy perform much better, even to low income studesnts, than predominantly low income schools, is that bad teachers get found out in schools where the parents are thmselves educated and aware.
Low IQ pupils usually haven't got a clue if bad teachers are failing their kids. They fail to monitor and track their kids' progress and haven't got a clue at where they should be, and what's stopping them from being there.
On the other hand, high IQ parents are on the ball and expect performance - something they are used to doing in their professional lives - from those charged with delegation. Basically, they know what to look for and what to do about it. The great failing of state education is that its very hard to gauge waht exactly goes on in the classroom without having some knowledge of child development and progess.

eah said...

...researchers haven’t been so sure that it is beneficial to enroll low-income children in wealthier schools.

I didn't know that was the subject of "research" (which is more and more loosely defined) these days. When I was growing up, we went to the school that was nearest (in my case, the nearest parochial school) -- I don't recall any discussion or "research" about it.

Most journalists can probably barely do arithmetic, let alone know of, or have any kind of untuitive understanding of, something like the 'Law of Large Numbers', or related thinking.

The MSM will never give up touting even the slimmest evidence that this whole "diversity" thing really will work out OK in the end. So stop worrying and shut up, you racist-xenophobe-nativist.

Auntie Analogue said...

Wasn't this mixing of low income students in schools of higher income students tried with all those massive, costly school busing schemes? How has that worked out? Closed The Gap yet, has it?


Anonymous said...

I bet there's lots of selection bias in the "random" choice of which families are mixed into the rich school districts. Very possibly the schools are having no effect at all. These do-gooders are very poor at the common sense of statistics almost certainly.

Robert Hume

rightsaidfred said...

IOW, send 'em all to Lake Wobegon...until Lake Wobegon is "vibranted" out of existence. Then send them to the next Lake Wobegon...until all the Lake Wobegons are gone. Only when the village is good and properly burned will our social engineers be satisfied.

Ian said...

Of all the Constitutional rights that contemporary elites are slowly undermining/violently assaulting, one that I don't see remarked upon often is the Freedom of Association - the simple, plain ole right to spend time around people one is comfortable with.

The Powers that Be seem to want at least one black thug ruining the childhood of every middle- and lower-class white kid, in addition to at least one overweight afro-revolutionary lesbian commissar loudly giving her opinion at every sizable meeting, group, organization, board, corporation, team, etc of white adults.

Lionel said...

This is a good education blog
The writer is obviously a university teacher, he sometimes mentions teaching graduate students.

There is this huge problem of inner city kids - black and Hispanic kids - who do so poorly in school and they will be more and more unemployable. No one knows what to do about it but they keep coming up with new ideas. People in government divide between those who will throw anything at the problem and those who have to protect special interests for their own interest.

Lionel said...

13% free or reduced price school lunches in Greenwich is a scandal but its not a poverty scandal, its a character scandal. Who are these people who cannot afford to make their kid a peanut butter sandwich for school? I don't believe there is anyone living in Greenwich who cannot afford to send their kid to school with a sandwich.

Anonymous said...

Dare to compare:

Greenwich High: 73.7% white

Stamford High: 39.7% white

alexi de sadesky said...

"In general, I find that pundits frequently have a model in their head where "minorities," whether racial or economic, must be very minor in numbers. I mean, they're minorities, right? "

Indeed! Pundits are usually the right kind of white people and most only spend time with minorities while they do an Amnesty International strut through Africa. Very good for US Nigerian relations I'm told.

Aside from the numbers not matching up, New Rochelle might as well be the Bronx these days. The folks in the big houses send their kids to private school or move to Larchmont.

I was recently at a conference where Davidson spoke. Like most economists he is completely blind to the actual workings of the world.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how the chattering class deals with whites' approaching minority status. This will tie their hands in many ways.

Not only will they have (relatively) fewer tax dollars to spend on various "fix the schools" schemes, but other resources as well. Namely, relatively fewer middle class white kids to bus around in social experiments (imagine if we'd applied to logic of busing to Jewish kids in the 70s). You won't be able to buy a homeworkdoing white kid for love or money in 2030, and I imagine East Asians will be scarce too, locked away in private schools.

We're getting nearer to America's "carrying" capacity of low IQ groups, as we saunter down the road to Brazil. I foretell mass emigration by SWPLs to Toronto and Vancouver.

TGGP said...

Ray Fisman had an article in Slate about integration reducing the criminality of poor black males. It was acknowledged that attending a majority black school significantly decreased the performance of white students. A commenter said this just proved desegregation had not gone far enough as long as there was such a thing as a majority black school. The possibility that an entire city might be majority black just didn't occur to them.

Anonymous said...

If equality is so great, why improve the scores of SOME minority students and make them unequally better than other minority students?

What this article proves is that race and culture matter.
We used to be told that the problem was the spending gap and teacher gap. So, we filled bad schools with good teachers and increased spending in black schools. Almost no improvement. But blacks do better where the environment is overwhelmingly white racially and culturally. Whites are racially less aggressive and less obnoxious. Whites tend to be more book-centered. So, the worst thing for blacks is to be with other blacks--too many of them--since blacks on their own only reinforce moronosity. Hmm. sounds 'racist'.

Whites on their own are ok. Asians on their own are ok. But blacks are their own are not ok. Blacks NEED to be minorities to be positively influenced by OTHER races since too many blacks lead to Detroitization. And schools must be careful not to allow too many blacks since a critical mass of rottenness might take place and lead to all sorts of problems. Hmm, sounds 'racist'.

This policy might work if most of the low income folks are Asian, white, or even Hispanic as many Hispanics seem to go along with the white way, but it's always iffy with blacks. And even if blacks in white schools do better than blacks in black schools, do they do as well as white students?

Anyway, if we really want 'equality', we should bring the richest with the poorest, like the teams are seeded in the NCAA tournaments. Match the best with the worst in the first round.

Anonymous said...

"You can run but you can't hide" policy.

Anonymous said...

Teens = politically correct code word for black thugs.


peterike said...

The stupidity of the chattering classes is a source of endless wonder.

"Schwartz still isn’t exactly sure why poor kids do so much better when they are surrounded by wealthier ones"

Ummm, how about because they are surrounded by fewer poor kids? The whole concept of a "tipping point" forever escapes the social engineers. And really, when the defining and absolute rule of your "research" is "never blame the poor/minority kids for anything, ever, no matter what the data shows" then I suppose it does leave you grasping for reasons.

There's just always a ghost in the damn machine somewhere. If only we could find it.

elvisd said...

The parochialism of the NYT is as stifling as a rural weekly run by the preacher's cousin.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think there's a lot of self-selection going on here. The article pretty much says so.

So shrewd, disciplined, frugal, and savvy poor people have kids who do better than those of more dysfunctional poor people. Stop the presses!

Anonymous said...

The Bonillas (a handyman from Spain) - My guess is Greenwich, Ct Hispanic and Bronx, NY Hispanic are different.

BTW, Well financed housing authorities, like Greenwich, actively recruit section 8 applicants so if your poor Podunk is just letting anyone from NYC or Philly show up u r screwed.

Anonymous said...

The Bonillas (a handyman from Spain) - My guess is Greenwich, Ct Hispanic and Bronx, NY Hispanic are different.

BTW, Well financed housing authorities, like Greenwich, actively recruit section 8 applicants so if your poor Podunk is just letting anyone from NYC or Philly show up u r screwed.

David said...

These people are no different from the denizens of the Dark Ages, who believed smooching a cross under a full moon (or whatever) was the way to change things.

Whiteness will magically rub off on non-whites if we inundate white groups with non-whites. Yes, keep doing it. Keep the faith.

While some poor souls really believe the nonsense, others know it's a laugh. Their purpose is to destroy whites. Hey, if you destroy whites, at least you eliminate the possibility of another Hitler. Read Phil Roth's The Plot Against America to understand how deep the fear, paranoia, and hatred can go.

Anonymous said...

"She and Bonilla, who farmed a small plot in El Ejido in Andalusia,"

Are they "undocumentados"?

Andalusia means they are probably fair skinned brunettes or slightly darker mediterranean types although there is no reason one or both could not be tall blonde and blue eyed, which is common enough in Spain. They could even have Jewish or Arab ancestry, given Andalusian history.

So is Greenwich playing Micheal Lewis' Money Ball strategy? Cherry picking the poor for team Greenwich while planting articles in the paper of record saying they have their fair share of social housing? So stop complaining that they don't have their fair share of poor people or Andalusian restaurants.

I have noticed that poor towns seems to be trying this, but more awkwardly. Vallejo Ca seems to be trying to create Section 8 Artist housing.

Anonymous said...

Lots of poor people apparently work in Greenwich, but only a small number live in Greenwich. My guess would be that the ones who pay through the nose to live in Greenwich, and deal with the unhappiness of their children, who are undoubtedly the worst-dressed, etc., kids at the school, are people who are very ambitious for their children, or very scared that their kids would fall in with the wrong crowd in a neighborhood full of their economic peers.

The high school that I attended in a wealthy neighborhood had a black kid in attendance who was the son of a live-in maid. He was an idiot and a complete "class clown" and it would not have mattered at all academically where he went to school. But going to school in a good neighborhood probably kept him out of trouble at least until he was 18.

C. Van Carter said...

Who cares if it doesn't work? "Taking a Regional Approach" punishes whites avoiding "vibrancy".

Harold said...

And so the search continues for the ever elusive recipe for the legendary social scientitst’s school, which is said to be able transmute NAMs into whites.

Anonymous said...

Cut out the middleman and bus kids from bronx straight to greenwich! Im sure greenwich will take them in with open arms.

ironrailsironweights said...

Greenwich's immediate neighbor to the west, Port Chester NY, is not a particularly affluent community. It's one of the few towns in the country to have a substantial Bolivian population.

While I could try to look it up to be sure, I'm quite confident that well over 20% of the schoolchildren in New Rochelle are classified as low income.


jody said...

all we need to fix the schools is to indoctrinate the students into anti-american liberalism, apparently. from foxnews:

"School: Americans Don’t Have Right to Bear Arms"


in the humorously named constitution state, they have been teaching students for a while now that the constitution guarantees no rights which the anti-american liberals don't like.

and here just a week or two ago on isteve there was a thread where people were trying to tell us that teachers were a good place to hunt for GOP votes and that there was no left wing indoctrination going on in the schools.

meanwhile, CNN will drop any pretense of journalistic integrity today, and go full blast for gun control.

Geoff Matthews said...

I was too lazy to check, but did they control for whether the kid's parent(s) were working? If they were married?
If the low-income housing in Greenwich gets used by the people servicing the rich, that must, by definition, be working.

Whitehall said...

Liberals in general either ignore costs of the their policies or hide who will be paying the costs.

They don't want the payees to know since that would cause opposition.

But if Utopia is free, why not!

Really Wanna Know said...

There is a very important comparison missing from that article: the effect, if any, that the low-income students have on the high-income students.

We're always being told that low-income kids gain by going to school with high-income kids.

But no one is telling us whether high-income kids gain or lose by going to school with low-income kids.

What if gains for some kids are only purchased by losses for others?