May 2, 2007

How to get high test scores for your K-12 school:

New York prints an amusing article about a new elite public school on Avenue D in the Lower East Side:

NEST+m: An Allegory

The “Stuyvesant of the East” has become one of the most sought-after public schools in the city. It got that way by leaving much of the public out.
By Jeff Coplon

As light faded on the first arctic day of winter, a band of 40 die-hard parents huddled on Seventh Avenue, outside Region 9 headquarters of the Department of Education. Mostly white and middle-aged, armed with signs and certainty, they stood shivah for a dream foreclosed on the Lower East Side: the notorious NEST+m, a school for the best and brightest in all New York.

Braced against the slicing wind, they chanted against the ousting of their founding principal, the feared and revered Celenia Chévere, and grieved for the motto she once posted outside her office door:

A public school with a private-school mission.

The sign dripped with hubris, but it had wooed the striving classes well. Since the troubled birth of New Explorations Into Science, Technology & Math, in 2001, its parents had tithed body and soul and disposable income—for their children, to be sure, but also for the urban impossibility: a truly great public school. In NEST they’d found a hothouse with record test scores, free of the usual tawdry concessions—sardined classes, peeling paint, creeping illiteracy.

Now, after some nasty infighting and a crackdown by the chancellor, their school had been turned inside-out. For the old guard, everything precious seemed dead: small-group advisories, split-gender math and science, the Sarah Lawrence–size seminars, the prepster dress code. Demoralized, the stalwarts had coined a different sort of slogan: Just another DoE school.

When a school loses the culture that made it distinctive, “people imply that it’s a law of history … that it died a natural death,” says Deborah Meier, founder of the seminal alternative school Central Park East. “If we actually track it back, it may have been murdered.”

Last fall, as NEST imploded, its PTA president emeritus moved her son to a private high school. “I feel like I’ve been robbed,” says Emily Armstrong, “and there’s nothing I can do about it.” She has a theory about why NEST’s enemies sought to strangle it in the cradle and kept at it till they won.

“It’s all race and class,” she says wearily. “It’s nothing else but that.”

So, how do you get high test scores? Step one: Keep the local kids from applying.

Over the next few months, Chévere did all she could to discourage the locals. Of two dozen sessions where NEST applications were distributed, twenty were held at the 14th Street Y, at the cusp of District 1 and the whiter, wealthier District 2. “It was like trying to catch a moonbeam,” says Margarita Rosa, executive director of the Grand Street Settlement. Rosa’s deputy, Pablo Tejada, ran a Beacon program after school and on weekends at JHS 22, serving close to 2,000 children, youth, and adults. Although he saw Chévere weekly that spring, Tejada says, he couldn’t get NEST brochures until after the deadline. When parents pressed to learn more about the school, Rosa says, they were “treated very, very rudely and given the runaround … It was an atmosphere that basically said, ‘Certain people need not apply.’”

Lopez was pushing for access to NEST. According to Armstrong, the councilwoman announced that every child at Baruch had a guaranteed spot at the new school. As summer approached and few acceptance letters made their way to the project, the backlash began: Leaflets blasted NEST as racist. There were death threats, and smashed windshields in the parking lot. “I’m one of them,” Chévere plaintively told the Times, referring to her Hispanic critics. “But they don’t see me as that. They see me as elitist.” ...

Step two: Drive out low-performers who get in.

When school started, Chévere divided the seventh grade into the “A-class” and the “B-class.” The A-class had five children, most of them white. The B-class was composed of twenty or so students from the immediate neighborhood, nearly all of them Hispanic or black. Some of them were quick and able, if less than enamored with the NEST uniform (polo shirts and khaki slacks or skirts from the Lands’ End catalogue) and its Sisyphean homework loads; others lagged tragically in basic skills.

“It was clearly racial steering,” Mendez says. “I often wonder whether we did those kids any service. Their life was hell.”

The B-class became the principal’s white whale, her sour obsession. According to one of its teachers, Chévere would declare, “I’m going to torture them until they leave.” She ordered the B-class students cited for every conceivable infraction, no matter how picayune. “She told me to write up anyone for anything,” the teacher says. “If a kid looked tired, if he didn’t have a belt on, if his hair wasn’t washed …” Chévere forwarded the paper barrage to the Administration for Children’s Services. When besieged parents came to the school, the teacher says, Chévere held ACS over them as a threat: Withdraw their children, or else.

Step three: recruit.

In the savvy-parent grapevine, no strong school stays secret for long. By NEST’s second year, 400 applicants vied for 75 spots in the ninth grade alone. In year three, middle-class families poured in from private schools, brownstone Brooklyn, even haughty District 2. District 1’s share ebbed to 40 percent, while the proportion of free-lunch students dropped by half.

“She wanted that look,” a former NEST teacher says. “I remember a meeting where Celenia said, ‘We need to get more Asian kids. We want to look good when people walk around [on tour], and we want to have the higher math scores.’”

Step four: cheat.

On the afternoon of the eighth-grade state ELA exam in January 2004, a middle-school teacher—who asked that her name be withheld to protect her current job with the DoE—stopped by the principal’s conference room to say good-night. Seated around the rich dark-wood table, she recalls, were the principal and her administrative cadre. Spilled out before them were stacks of ELA test booklets and the original answer sheets, says this teacher, whom we’ll call Randy. No one seemed to be bothered by the DoE protocol that finished tests be promptly sealed and sent off to the region.

As Randy moved to leave, Chévere told her, “‘You’re not going home. You’re going to stay and help us look over all the kids’ answers,’” she says. “I felt very much like they were asking me to change answers, and I refused.” The conversation ended—and so, a few months later, did Randy’s career at NEST.

We cannot know exactly what Chévere and her staff were doing that afternoon, but the school’s numbers give pause. On the 2003 ELA, 35 percent of NEST’s eighth-graders tested at or above grade level, not much better than the citywide average. In 2004, the school’s new crop of eighth-graders—the ones whose tests were allegedly “looked over” by Chévere’s staff—made a quantum leap. Of 31 students, all but one—or 97 percent—met the standard.

The following year, a special-education student named Jennifer, who asked that her last name be withheld, got some unusual marching orders from the NEST office. In January 2005, she says, she was told to stay home on the day of the eighth-grade ELA exam. Randy, the former middle-school teacher, says this was common practice at NEST; special-needs students would take the test instead on a makeup day, with no outside monitors present.

At the ELA retake, Jennifer says, there were about ten students in the room: the four or five from her special-ed class, taught by a Chévere favorite named Jennifer Wilen, and four or five more from the mainstreamed population who qualified for extra test time. Wilen sat among her students and read each multiple-choice question aloud, Jennifer says. Then she’d “let us guess, and if we circled the wrong one … she would say, ‘No, that’s wrong—b is the answer.’ I’d erase it and circle the b.” The mainstreamed students raced ahead, shouting answers to one another. (On the day of her state math test, according to Jennifer, the procedure changed a bit. Since Wilen was “a little dumbish about math,” the student says, “she asked the kids who took regular classes for the answer, and they would just tell us, and we would just circle down the answer.”)

Toward the end of the ELA test, Jennifer says, Wilen told her students to cover their tracks by erasing some correct answers and entering wrong ones: “We just erased like two, and that’s it—two answers.”


As it turned out, two erasures might have been conservative. Of ten NEST eighth-graders with special needs, all scored at or above grade level on the ELA that year. Their mean scaled score outshone their general-education schoolmates; it also surpassed the average for any general-ed eighth-grade class at all but three schools in the city. In the math test that year, Jennifer’s test group scored even higher. And NEST’s seventh-graders with special needs did better yet; all seven tallied 4’s on the ELA. (Wilen denies feeding students answers. Asked to explain the unusual scores, she first suggested that perhaps the eighth-graders “did a really good job cheating” on their own, then reconsidered, saying she had “trained those poor little kids beautifully” with a relentless regimen of ELA practice tests.)

When these test results were relayed to Robert Tobias, longtime chief of assessment for the old Board of Ed and now a research director at NYU’s Steinhardt School, his response was unqualified: “Based on a career of 30 years of looking at these kinds of data, I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s one in a million.”


Overall, NEST had a banner year in 2005. With 99 percent of its students scoring at or above the standard in English and 97 percent in math, it outranked all but a handful of schools. Even today, Chévere trumpets her “stellar track record”: “All my students achieved perfect to near-perfect scores on all standardized tests at all grade levels. I’m extremely proud of that achievement.”


But Jennifer derived no pleasure from her pair of 4’s. “If I don’t do something by myself, I’m not going to know it,” she says. That fall, glowing transcript in hand, she was placed in general-ed classes at Health Professions High School and soon fell hopelessly behind. She’s since transferred to a school in New Jersey, but her academic future—and goal of college—remains in doubt.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

28 comments:

SFG said...

I don't see any New York mania here, they're trying to preserve a future for their kids in a tough area. Wouldn't any parent do the same?

Grumpy Old Man said...

I remember back in the '50s attending PS6, then known as "a private school at public expense." It drew on a district that went north along 5th Avenue to take in apartment buildings, whose inhabitants were middle-class, white (and largely Jewish), but excluded the black and brown-occupied tenements immediately to the east. The only blacks were the children of janitors and building superintendents who lived in the basements of buildings within the district.

Later I went to a junior high whose district was not gerrymandered. In many classrooms it was impossible to keep order; substitute teachers would go out to lunch and not come back--nowadays they call it ADHD.

My father once walked into one of these classes and created a few minutes of order with his WWII officer's command voice.

Fatherless boys with high gross motor drive and low IQs may well need male teachers and a highly structured environment to learn anything. Middle-class kids would despise such an environment.

Meanwhile, we're importing more kids with no English and low IQs, whose parents generally don't value learning very much.

Not smart. Of three traits, (a) liberalism, (b) having school-aged children in non-white areas, and (c) and absence of hypocrisy, you can have any two. Not all three.

Anonymous said...

Really, Steve, you don't have to go all the way to New York to find this kind of story. Consider the story of Woodland Hills Elementary School, right in your back yard, where the principal stands accused of selectively browbeating, driving out, and cherrypicking kids to boost test scores.

http://www.newsthinking.com/story.cfm?SID=247

As I leave, I remind myself that the best teachers and administrators have been goal-oriented mavericks who aren't afraid to offend as they cut through the bureaucracy and simply get things done. But that night Woodland Hills Elementary begins to seem like the realm of some suburban zombie tribe with a dark secret to keep.

"People are scared," parents and teachers practically whisper into the phone, most pleading for absolute confidentiality as they describe a volatile "tyrant" who rules by browbeating, intimidation and humiliation.

...

Denise Miller, a fifth-grade teacher, says that when she first arrived at Woodland Hills, she admired Feig as a tough leader. Her view began to change, she says, as she watched the principal ruthlessly weed out students and parents who might somehow undermine Woodland Hills Elementary's reputation as an academic powerhouse.

"She sanitizes the school," Miller says, explaining that Feig finds reasons to yank the permits of students who don't fit her mold. "They just disappear."

What really turned her against Feig, though, she says, was watching her frighten and embarrass students. "I won't let my kids go alone to Anna's office." Many teachers won't, she says.

Why don't her colleagues speak out?

"They don't want to injure the grizzly bear."

The irony here is that south of the Boulevard Woodland Hills is already largely white, Asian, and Iranian and upper middle class. If the principal did nothing to mess with the school's demographics, it would be perfectly fine.

Dennis Dale said...

I'm reminded of a cartoon I once saw. It was titled "How to pick up women." The first panel shows a short, plump, bald man failing to strike up a conversation with a girl at a bar, below it reads "wrong way."
The next panel showed a tall, handsome man chatting up the same girl, below this, of course, read: "right way."

Anonymous said...

Not long ago, all types of schools had physical punishment and a more commanding classroom style. Kids were scared of their educators, whether those were priests, nuns, rabbis, or just ordinary public school teachers. And they did learn.

Lack of physical punishment has a bad effect on character. Child abuse is a bad thing, but a smack across the hand or the backside hurts the ego, not the body. And yes, keeping the ego in check is a good thing.

People love to be bossed around. Why else do people love the Apprentice or join streeth gangs or the military? What people really hate is lack of authority. Which is why educated, rich, safe Western man is so spiritually sick these days.

Mark said...

What, New York Jews don't want their kids to go to school with a bunch of goys? I'm shocked - shocked!

Let's face it - liberal Jews and other liberal whites love to get social mileage over their alleged support of civil rights, but they feel free doing so knowing that it will seldom affect themselves.

I grew up in the suburbs just outside of Memphis. Most whites had moved to the suburbs in order to protect their kids from the consequences of integration. Jews had a different strategy. They used their political pull to get the school board to convert the public high school near the heavily Jewish area of Shady Grove in East Memphis into a magnet school with an "optional program" - that is, a program with not a whole lot of blacks.

Mark said...

(cont from above...)

Jews are no more confident in the consequences of integration than other whites are. They're just more confident in their ability to avoid its consequences.

tommy said...

Great story! Thanks, Steve.

Yeah, I don't doubt many of those parents of "white students" described in the article are probably Jewish and/or flaming liberal. It's the new upper-middle class, left-wing formula: diversity from a distance. They segregate their kids from the rabble and then moan and groan over the way "institutionalized racism" and "lack of funding" is holding back low-IQ minority students.

Ain't multiculturalism grand? Especially when you don't have to live it?

ricpic said...

You'd think the educrat who skewed the test results would have the smarts to improve the scores by a plausible margin. But she didn't. Not too smart for someone in the smarts business.

Anonymous said...

"Jews are no more confident in the consequences of integration than other whites are. They're just more confident in their ability to avoid its consequences."

This reminds me of Thomas Sowell's, "Culture and Migrations" (I may have that title wrong) in which he examines several groups and where they tend to migrate, etc. Jews tend to always end up in urban areas, even those who try to get away and try something provincial like farming. Germans are just the opposite.

After just reading, "Bonfire of the Vanities", I wondered how do the Jews do it (Put up with disintegrating neighborhoods without fleeing)?
Changing the public school takes so much more effort than just fleeing and seems, to me at least, to demonstrate how important urban areas are to Jewish people.

Jeffrey said...

Hey Steve (and his blog friends):

I think Dennis Dale hit the proverbial nail on the head. It is much simpler to create a good public school if you only pull kids from a middle-class neighborhood. My Chicago neighborhood public school (meaning it is not a magnet school with selective enrollment) is one of the best in the State of Illinois, and it is literally the best non-selective enrollment school in the City of Chicago. How does the school pull it off? I think the number one reason is that the neighborhood, called Edgebrook and located on the far northwest side of the City, is middle-class to upper-middle class. There aren't many dysfunctional families living in my neighborhood and a lot of successful families who value education and their children's success. Ironically, we do have to deal with peeling paint and stuffed classrooms (my daughter's first grade class has close to 30 kids); although "creeping illiteracy" is not a problem. There are other high-scoring neighborhood schools, including those with almost all black enrollment, but again, if you look at the demographics of the kids families, you find successful middle-class to upper-middle class black families in the neighborhood.

Which is a long way of saying, it is easy to get good outputs with good inputs. The real interesting policy question is whether or not we can ever get good outputs working with "bad" inputs (low IQ kids from screwed-up families). Which suggests that Charles Murray's recent calls for better vocational education and alternatives for kids who won't succeed at traditional academics.

For those who are interested, here is a link to an elementary school ranking for Illinois (my school is number 9):

http://www.suntimes.com/pcds/html/stng/hs/isat/rank_state_elementary.html

David Davenport said...

Jews tend to always end up in urban areas, even those who try to get away and try something provincial like farming. Germans are just the opposite.

That's a well known observation:

Jews -> urban

Aryans -> pastoral.

This is one of the reasons why liberals revile suburbia.

SFG said...

And why conservatives revile cities?

Not all liberals are Jewish, you know. Jews are 2% but 20-something % of the country describes itself as 'liberal'.

SFG said...

What, New York Jews don't want their kids to go to school with a bunch of goys? I'm shocked - shocked!

You don't see them going to huge lengths to keep the Chinese out.

David Davenport said...

Jews are 2% but 20-something % of the country describes itself as 'liberal'.

The goy liberals think what they're told.

Anonymous said...

"The goy liberals think what they're told."

Sure. Everyone knows that John Stuart Mill was born Jacob Schlomo Moskowitz.

Dave said...

Mark:

"What, New York Jews don't want their kids to go to school with a bunch of goys? I'm shocked - shocked!

Let's face it - liberal Jews and other liberal whites love to get social mileage over their alleged support of civil rights, but they feel free doing so knowing that it will seldom affect themselves."


My Jewish parents marched for civil rights, moved to an integrated city, and then deliberately had me and my sisters bussed to the nearly-all-black elementary school on the other side of town. We did a play about the civil rights era in this school, and as one of the only white kids, I had to play the bus driver who kicked Rosa Parks off the bus.

The point is that my parents, like many other liberals, Jewish or not, did what they thought was just and ate their own cooking. You may not agree with their views (I don't), but if you think this some sort of conspiracy to keep down the gentiles, you've been spending too much time on one of those KKK-conspiracy websites.

David Davenport:

"That's a well known observation:

Jews -> urban

Aryans -> pastoral."


My mother spent her summers on her grandparents farm in CT and she owns a small horse farm in NJ now. She, like many Jews, doesn't fit into your stereotype. More generally, most Jews migrated to the suburbs. Neighborhoods like Washington Heights in upper Manhattan used to be full of Jews -- now those Jews are in Bergen County, NJ, Fairfield County, CT, or on Long Island, and Washington Heights is largely Dominican.

Urban areas are favored by typically by the young and single, and the affluent.

As for "aryans" -- who are you referring to? Blond and blue eyed Germans? Scandinavians? Or people who actually call themselves Aryans (i.e., Iranians)? I'm not too up on Hitlerian racial theory. If you are referring to those of German and Scandinavian descent, those two groups seem to have been drawn to urban areas in the U.S., for example, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, respectively.

tommy said...

My Jewish parents marched for civil rights, moved to an integrated city, and then deliberately had me and my sisters bussed to the nearly-all-black elementary school on the other side of town.

Ah, yes! Those halcyon days of the late-60s when everyone thought integration would work out splendidly if we just gave it a chance. Strangely, there are very few Jews being bused into the 'hood these days. Why is that?

The point is that my parents, like many other liberals, Jewish or not, did what they thought was just and ate their own cooking.

Liberals of that era were happy to eat their own cooking when it still tasted sweet. When the food began to taste bitter they quickly excused themselves from the table and didn't come back. That hasn't, unfortunately, stopped them from going on telling the rest of us how wonderful and healthy a three course meal in multiculturalism really is and how we all should dig in when given the chance.

Urban areas are favored by typically by the young and single, and the affluent.

Well, Jews are generally fairly affluent compared to most other ethnic groups. If they were young or single they probably wouldn't have kids attending this school.

My mother spent her summers on her grandparents farm in CT and she owns a small horse farm in NJ now. She, like many Jews, doesn't fit into your stereotype.

Because some Jews are rural, it follows that Jews are no more urban than any other ethnic group. I think I've come across this type of argument before somewhere.

Dave said...

Tommy,

Have you ever actually been to New York? Go to the Lower East Side. 100 years ago this was full of poor Jews, just like Little Italy was full of poor Italians. Now most of the descendants of those Italians and Jews live in the suburbs. The Lower East Side is no longer a Jewish neighborhood. There are still Jews there, but there are also plenty of WASPs, white Catholics, Asians, etc. It's a hipster/gentrifying neighborhood.

Washington Heights was a Jewish neighborhood years ago as well, now -- except for some Jewish physicians who work at New York Presbyterian -- you'd be hard-pressed to find a Jew in that neighborhood. Why? They moved on to the suburbs.

Same with most of the Irish. Go to Hell's Kitchen today. No more poor Irish. It's another hipster/gentrifying area, like the LES.

Are you seeing a pattern yet? If not, let me connect the dots for you: many immigrant groups, Jews included, congregated in cities initially. Then succeeding generations moved out to the suburbs. My mother's experience wasn't an exception that proves a rule. Spending summers on a farm may have been atypical, but her family's path from the city to the suburbs certainly wasn't. Her grandfather immigrated to America and ran a pushcart in New York at the turn of the last century. He was apprenticed to a cabinet maker and became one himself. Then he built a successful office furniture business. Once he could afford to do so, he moved his family out of the city, and his descendants grew up in the suburbs. Since he came from a rural background, as did many eastern European Jews, and he had the money, he made use of his legal right to buy land in America, he bought a farm (which his grandchildren later lost to eminent domain, but that's another story).

When it comes to education, most American Jews today are on the same page as middle class suburban WASPs, Catholics, and Asians: they worked hard to buy homes in good school districts and want to keep them that way.

There still Jews who are moved to help poor blacks, Hispanics, and others get better educations, but many of them have learned from the experience of my parents' generation: their focus isn't on integration for diversity's sake, but on doing what will actually help some of these kids succeed. Jews such as Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, who founded the KIPP schools, or Joel Greenblatt, who co-founded the Harlem Success School aren't forcing multiculturalism on anyone; they are providing opportunities for the minority of poor black and Hispanic kids with motivated parents to get decent educations.

tommy said...

Are you seeing a pattern yet? If not, let me connect the dots for you:

Relax, Dave. I'm just poking a finger at a few of your assertions I found dubious. I'm not arguing that the descendants of the old immigrant populations haven't fanned out to the suburbs in large numbers or that Jews are the exclusive group of "white people" attended the school in question, just that we can likely expect a fair percentage of liberals and Jews among the school's population.

And no, I've never been to New York City, I'm sorry to say. I've hardly been anywhere east of the Mississippi.

Have a nice night, Dave.

Mark said...

The point is that my parents, like many other liberals, Jewish or not, did what they thought was just and ate their own cooking. You may not agree with their views (I don't), but if you think this some sort of conspiracy to keep down the gentiles, you've been spending too much time on one of those KKK-conspiracy websites. - Dave

Dave,
Given what I've written I can see why you might assume that I'm 'spending time on the KKK websites.' I can assure you that I'm not; nor do I hate Jews.

I do, however, hate hypocrisy. As a white, Southern conservative who is (very) nominally Christian, what I'm tired of is the constant depiction of people like me as corrupt, ignorant, racist bigots, while other people who behave no differently get a free ride.

Face it: there is a large component of ethnocentrism in Judaism - an ethnocentrism no other white group or Christian denomination could ever get away with nowadays.

Jay Leno last night had presidential candidate Mitt Romney on. After him he had black comedian DL Hughley on. Hughley mocked Romney's religion because Mormons didn't allow blacks to be priests until the late 70s. But you know what? I'll bet that even in 1975 there were more black Mormons than black Jews.

Anonymous said...

Dave, those people didn't move into the suburbs because that's just some kind of natural process. They moved because of rampant criminality. It's not normal for urban neighborhoods to be dominanted by the single and childless - it's not normal for there to be so many single and childless people, period.

Mark said...

Jews such as Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, who founded the KIPP schools, or Joel Greenblatt, who co-founded the Harlem Success School aren't forcing multiculturalism on anyone; they are providing opportunities for the minority of poor black and Hispanic kids with motivated parents to get decent educations.

And zillions and zillions of Catholics and Protestants doing likewise, too.

Dave said...

Mark,

"I do, however, hate hypocrisy. As a white, Southern conservative who is (very) nominally Christian, what I'm tired of is the constant depiction of people like me as corrupt, ignorant, racist bigots, while other people who behave no differently get a free ride."

I ran into my share of white Southern conservative Christians during the times I spent at Ft. Benning, GA, and for the most part, the struck me as decent folk. I have never made any negative generalizations about your people. You may not be aware of this, but there have also been small, but vibrant Jewish communities in the South for hundreds of years -- in places like Savannah, New Orleans, etc. I doubt these Southern Jews are casting a lot of aspersions about you either, and you might be surprised to find how much you have in common with them (or they have with you) culturally.

"Face it: there is a large component of ethnocentrism in Judaism - an ethnocentrism no other white group or Christian denomination could ever get away with nowadays."

Can't win here. I cited two (of myriad other examples) of Jews helping blacks & Hispanics and you come back and accuse my people of ethnocentrism. If you cede the point that Jews have long helped people of other backgrounds, (e.g., Henry Muscovitz, who helped found the NAACP in 1909), then I open myself up to the accusation that this is really part of a Jewish strategy to keep down non-Jewish whites (although no one will say that Oswald Villard's involvement in the founding of the NAACP represented a similar, nefarious strategy on the part of ethnic Germans).

"But you know what? I'll bet that even in 1975 there were more black Mormons than black Jews."

I happen to know something about the Mormons, having dealt with several Mormons in business. I must say that as odd as I find their religious beliefs, the ones I have met have been stellar human beings. One Mormon in particular that I dealt with was an officer of a large bank prominent in the Western U.S. He was based out of Salt Lake City, UT, but was responsible for much of the West Coast as well. He was fairly high up in the church hierarchy. I forget the exact terminology, but he had an ID that allowed him access to Mormon temples. He gave me a tour of the temple in Oakland, CA, after we finished a long drive back to the Bay Area from some meetings in Fresno. One thing I learned about the LDS from him was their emphasis on proselytizing. He had spent a year in Japan seeking converts (incidentally, this is one reason many Mormons are successful in international business -- many of them are multilingual and have on-the-ground experience in foreign countries from these proselytizing trips).

I digress... the salient point is that if you know anything about both religions, you know that Mormons actively proselytize (as do many other Christian denominations) and Jews don't. So -- since the first Jews weren't black and Jews don't actively seek converts -- it wouldn't surprise me if there were more black Mormons than black Jews in 1975. That said, I have no idea. I do know that blacks who through marriage, birth, or choice become Jews are fully welcomed into the religion. As I mentioned on here previously, I went to Sunday school with a black Jew (the son of a black woman and a white Jew). Marriages between American Jewish men and African American women aren't unheard of, and black Jews have been the product of them. Two prominent examples: musician Lenny Kravits and Reuben Greenberg, former police chief of Charleston, SC.

By the way, for what it's worth, I can't stand D.L. Hughley.

"And zillions and zillions of Catholics and Protestants doing likewise [helping poor blacks & Hispanics get decent educations], too."

I have no doubt there are many dedicated Christians doing this as well. My point was that most Jewish efforts today to help low income black & Hispanic students are focussed on creating successful charter schools attended almost exclusively by minority children. This is an evidence-based, pragmatic approach, as opposed to a previous, misguided focus integration and diversity.

Dave said...

Tommy,

"I'm not arguing that the descendants of the old immigrant populations haven't fanned out to the suburbs in large numbers or that Jews are the exclusive group of "white people" attended the school in question, just that we can likely expect a fair percentage of liberals and Jews among the school's population."

I wouldn't be surprised. The broader point I was getting at is that cities like New York tend to attract, young, liberal, affluent singles -- some Jewish, but many not. The more affluent/ambitious of these folks attempt to stay in the city when the find a mate and have kids, but most can't afford to stay and leave. This is more accurately a cultural/class cohort than an ethno-religious one. You will find WASPs and Asian-Americans along with Jews, and a good percentage of mixed-race/religion marriages. Probably the majority of Jews in NYC moved there post-college -- there are very few Jews (or Irish or Italians) whose ancestors settled in urban areas and never left.

"And no, I've never been to New York City, I'm sorry to say. I've hardly been anywhere east of the Mississippi."

If you make it out sometime, let me know and I'll buy you a beer.

tommy said...

If you make it out sometime, let me know and I'll buy you a beer.

Thanks.

Mark said...

the salient point is that if you know anything about both religions, you know that Mormons actively proselytize (as do many other Christian denominations) and Jews don't. So -- since the first Jews weren't black and Jews don't actively seek converts -- it wouldn't surprise me if there were more black Mormons than black Jews in 1975.

But that's really the point, no? Many Christian religions actively seek converts; Jews don't. Some people can argue for integration while safely knowing, consciously or subconsciously, that it will never affect themselves all that much.

I wasn't making a point about DL Hughley. I think that's the first time I've ever seen him and he seemed moderately funny. My point is that Mitt Romney catches hell from the press over the alleged racism of his church, but liberal politicans, especially Jews, never do. In 2000 and 2004, no one in the press ever, to my knowledge, asked Joseph Lieberman how many blacks belonged to his synagogue. For that matter, I doubt any ever asked Howard Dean how many blacks he knew/attended church with (assuming he attended). In both instances, I suspect the answer would've been close to zero. Howard Dean left New York City for the multiculturalist mecca of Vermont, where the people are as white as the milk; and Connecticut ain't a whole lot more diverse.

As I said above, I don't hate Jews and I can't stand racist/anti-Semitic groups like the KKK, etc. I just wish we could have an honest conversation on the issue.

We always hear about how America MUST be racist because blacks and hispanics are poorer than whites. If income disparity is de facto proof of discrimination, then what does that say about Jewish prosperity?

When the Supreme Court handed down its decision on partial birth abortion, some liberals went crazy because the 5 justices who supported the majority opinion were Catholic. Catholics may be overrepresented on the court, making up 55%, but what religious/ethnic minority is more overrepresented on the court, making up 22% (compared to their 3% of the population), and always votes liberal? I'll give you one guess.

Anonymous said...

This kind of thing is the consequence of rewarding school administrators for test scores. They have to either make their kids do better on tests, or game the tests. But making their kids do better is *hard*--they have entrenched incompetent teachers, some students who are too dumb or unmotivated or behind from previous screwing off to catch up, etc. Gaming the system is all that's available.