Friday, July 30, 2010

Schools, Houses, and Liberal Utopias

A recent headline had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief: “Schools test idea of grouping by abilities” -- as opposed to rigid and regimented grade levels. A miracle, I calls it! The educational establishment has finally rediscovered what the school marms in the little one-room red schoolhouses knew 100 years ago – that giving students materials based on their abilities rather than their age is a great help when it comes to motivation and achievement. Of course, like any other promising change in public education, we can expect the teachers' unions to fight like demons against it. But at least they'll be forced to prove that their way works better... or provide some other argument, like ability grouping is “unfair” to lower-ability students and might hurt their feelings. You know, something like that. Well, it's always worked in the past, so don't be surprise if it's dragged out on this occasion as well.

And speaking of our marvelous public schools, it now turns out that there is a phenomenon called “resegregation”. No, Orval Faubus hasn't come back to life; it's just that when all the non-whites flee for their lives (and livelihoods) from a given (usually urban) neighborhood, the public schools in said neighborhood tend to become more and more black. Big surprise! And in fact, what is called “white flight” -- deeply regretted by liberals (you know, the ones who didn't live in those neighborhoods in the first place so they didn't have to worry) – was, according to my theory and that of many others, not an unintended consequence, but was fully intended. That is, the aim all along was to drive whites, especially “ethnic” white Catholics, out of the cities and make them preserves of (1) reliable Democratic voters (as if the white Catholics weren't!); and (2) social and economic chaos and despair, which would justify massive government programs, even more power to liberal politicians and activists, etc. Nothing new about any of this – but what is new is that anyone is acting surprised that the schools in these areas -- that were ethnically cleansed of whites -- are becoming totally black. I mean, who did they expect would take the place of all the white kids -- Martians? And if you'll recall, an interim measure that was a low point in the history of race relations – namely forced busing – was instituted in order to enforce quota systems across school districts. But this only accelerated the “flight” to the point where white people refused to live anywhere within the city limits, and all wound up in the suburbs. Again, this was a totally non-unintentional consequence.

And speaking of mush-brained thinking about racial issues, here was Julian Bond recently... and let's face it, this is one guy who has stayed around way past his pull date... but in any case, he came to a conference here in Pittsburgh and pronounced that one of the next major civil rights battles will be... are you ready for this? ... the effort to end housing segregation. To which any sane person would have to say “HUH??” This is like NASA making a big deal about going to the Moon someday – hey guys, we already did that, remember? And housing segregation was terminated, by brute force, many decades ago. Or was it? Well, it's certainly true that there is no longer any such thing as legal segregation in housing, so what Mr. Bond is clearly talking about is the same thing the school people are talking about, which is results. Like for instance, the result of white flight and housing subsidies for “minorities” (i.e. blacks) is that blacks tend to live in some areas, and whites tend to live in other areas. So here is a direct quote from Mr. B.: “If you're segregated to one part of town, you're away from the best jobs, the best schools, the best opportunities.” Now let me freely translate that. What he means is that ethnic cleansing of whites combined with housing subsidies for blacks tended to concentrate black populations in certain areas of cities. The result of this was, predictably, a degradation in the quality of the schools based primarily on the degradation of the quality of the pupils (or their attitudes about education). And, just like “white flight”, you also had the flight of businesses that could no longer afford the risks (and loss of trade) that doing business in those neighborhoods entailed. And with the businesses went the jobs; again -- big surprise. So -- “urban renewal” and “desegration” resulted in white flight, business flight, and school degradation, all of which led to what Mr. Bond calls “segregation”. And segregation it is – but not of the old-South variety. This is the kind dreamed up and mercilessly implemented by liberals, of which Mr. Bond is one of the most prominent – and now he's complaining about the result. And, oh yes, the same conference tackled – head-on! -- questions like “minorities' overrepresentation in the criminal justice system.” Right – another unfathomable mystery. But when your entire world view is based on outcomes, rather than what it takes to achieve those outcomes, is it any wonder you're still talking nonsense after all these years? That's Mr. Bond's problem, and the problem of a huge portion of the so-called black leadership.

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