Life in my personal sanctimony city

Measured by support for the Democrats, Boston certainly qualifies as a Sanctimony City. How are we doing on the issues on which we consider ourselves superior to the benighted Fox News viewers in the Deplorable Red States?

“50 years later, Metco’s dream is still unanswered” (Boston Globe) says that sorting children by skin color and then busing some of the “non-white” ones out to the mostly-white suburbs hasn’t worked as well as hoped:

Fifty years after Massachusetts launched an ambitious voluntary school desegregation initiative, the yawning social disparities and tensions the plan aimed to ease remain — and painful incidents persist.

But when some 3,300 Metco students walk into those suburban schools, they encounter student peers who are predominantly white, and teachers and administrators who are overwhelmingly so, state data show. There are no requirements for the 37 suburban districts to diversify their teaching or administrative ranks. And the state’s Metco rules, which mostly cover reimbursement for the suburban districts, have long been silent about recommending or requiring training that would help teachers better understand cultural differences and help make Metco students feel more welcome.

The good news is that learning a third as much as a student in Finland can qualify an American as a “superachiever”:

Despite these hurdles, Metco students, who often spend hours each day bused to and from school, tend to be superachievers. State data show they score higher on state MCAS exams than their counterparts in Boston and are significantly more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. “The educational resources are great,” said Sammi Chen, who graduated last month from Lincoln-Sudbury and expects to major in biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

[Chen? How does someone with a Chinese last name qualify for a program that starts with skin color sorting? It turns out that Asians are considered to “non-white,” though in a lot of the suburbs that participate in Metco there are now a lot of local Asians.]

Being surrounded by well-meaning Hillary-supporters can be annoying:

Day, who lives in Lincoln, said he didn’t feel like an outsider until he hit high school, where he said some teachers and students assumed he was a Metco student bused from Boston because he is black. …  Day said teachers at the high school would sometimes ask if he needed financial assistance to go on a field trip because they assumed his family couldn’t afford it. … he asked that the caption under his yearbook picture reflect that. “I do not feel safe at this school,” it reads.

The Millionaires for Obama in my neighborhood were discussing this article on a listserv (that’s how old we are here!):

The elementary school still has a problem even if it is “substantially more integrated”. All one has to do is walk down the hall any given morning before school starts and you can see & hear the kids of color being reprimanded more harshly than the other kids for speaking too loudly or to sit down on the benches.

Last year I met a young woman of color who attended LS… Her experience was of a school that oozed with entitlement and white privilege.

I refrained from trying to cheer them up with the following response:

At least the inner-city kids who come out here are learning about transportation engineering. Now they know that transporting a 110 lb. person and a pair of yoga pants a distance of 3 miles over smooth pavement requires a 6,000 lb. vehicle.

What about when these kids graduate from their bureaucratically integrated schools and go to work? The good news is that they can become infinitely rich by starting a company and employing only female workers. “Boston Has Eliminated Sexism in the Workplace. Right?” (Boston Magazine) says “women here [in the Boston area] are actually being paid 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man,” which is, according to the article, a larger disparity than in the U.S. as a whole. This opportunity will be shut down if people listen to the geniuses behind Enron: “perhaps the most convincing argument comes from a McKinsey & Company study, which showed Massachusetts would receive a jaw-dropping 12 percent bump in GDP if it achieved gender parity in the workplace.”

It isn’t on their web site, but the August 2017 issue carries an interview with 85-year-old Harvey Mansfield, the only “conservative” left at Harvard. You can see why universities want to get rid of old people. His explanation for why Harvard has so much grade inflation: “the early 70s. When black students arrived, they benefited from great good will, which is the passion behind affirmative action. … a professor wasn’t going to give a black student a C, so … he couldn’t give them to white students either.” Are parents getting good value for paying Harvard prices? “the curriculum is a mess. If you look at a typical Harvard transcript, you see courses all over the place. Often on small subjects or policy questions, instead of meat and potatoes: history, economics, philosophy. … there are a whole lot of [gut] courses and it’s easy to waste your money…”

At least the students can party, Missoula-style, right? Professor Mansfield says “the sexual scene [at Harvard] is a mess. … ‘sexual adventure,’ if I can put it that way, is expected, even though it doesn’t always materialize. And when it does materialize, it can often be misadventure. … There’s no backing from the faculty, from the mores, from the churches, from reality, to a woman’s ability to say no. It much more depends on her courage and her good sense than used to be the case.” (Note that “saying no” may not make good economic sense; collecting child support in Massachusetts can be worth more than 3X the median after-tax income of an Ivy League graduate.)

What’s the predictive power of being a professor of Government at Harvard? No better than mine! In response to “Did you expect Trump to win?” Mansfield replies “I didn’t see him coming. I kept thinking he would lose.”

How is Harvard doing going forward? Answering a question about Harvard’s president, Mansfield says “she hasn’t done anything … to make [Harvard] offer a more demanding education, and she has participated in this slow decline from veritas to change. Our motto is truth, but we now interpret that as adjusting to the changes of society. That is an essentially passive goal, which is conformist.” Mansfield still likes the school, though: “The students are great, the faculty is okay, and the administration is about average.”

So… here we are feeling superior to the rest of the U.S. with no data to support our beliefs!

8 thoughts on “Life in my personal sanctimony city

  1. Too much angst over first world problems. LSU needs a winning football coach!

  2. It isn’t on their web site, but the August 2017 issue carries an interview with 85-year-old Harvey Mansfield, the only “conservative” left at Harvard. You can see why universities want to get rid of old people. His explanation for why Harvard has so much grade inflation: “the early 70s. When black students arrived, they benefited from great good will, which is the passion behind affirmative action. … a professor wasn’t going to give a black student a C, so … he couldn’t give them to white students either

    I doubt that there’s much evidence that universities want to get rid of old professors. The evidence points in the opposite direction. There have to be very few employers in other sectors of the economy that have positions similar to emeritus professors, that allow senior citizens to work part time and keep their offices and titles and so forth.

    Also, when I read the professor’s statement about grade inflation, it occurred to me that I had heard that people first identified the phenomenon in the 1960s. Sure enough, the NY Times has an article about it with graphs and everything.

    …researchers argue that grade inflation began picking [up] in the 1960s and 1970s probably because professors were reluctant to give students D’s and F’s. After all, poor grades could land young men in Vietnam.

    In any case, the problem with black students shouldn’t affect Harvard. With its fabulous endowment it is certainly able to identify 100 or 200 black high school graduates every year who can handle the work and bring them to Cambridge, especially considering the fact that so much of the curriculum is made up of “gut courses”. The great conservative thinker Ann Coulter has also pointed out that many of those kids have a lot in common with Barack Obama. Remember that he was raised by his prosperous white grandparents in a presumably nice middle class neighborhood and attended an expensive private high school.

    Professor Mansfield is just expounding on an old Republican theme, the unforeseen negative effects that occur when liberal do-gooders try help poor black people.

  3. “Super-achiever” or not, I’m glad Linus left Finland and came here to raise his children.

  4. My town accepts METCO students and we are getting royally screwed financially. METCO finances pay for transportation and a few other things and we taxpayers get to foot the majority of the cost of educating these children. METCO costs in past years have been cut, too.

    When I did calculations a few years ago, METCO was only paying about $2K per student. My town spends about $12k per student and we have over 120 METCO students. You can do the math. Plus we have to foot any special education costs. The other thing is that METCO doesn’t send all of its students from the lowest socioeconomic level, more than half are middle class minorities.

    In my opinion, some of these parents can certainly afford to actually live in some of the receiving towns and they send many middle class black students because the behavior of many of the lowest income blacks is poor. If these white communities were to actually see the behavior of the poorest blacks, METCO would have been disbanded decades ago.

  5. N100, before philg gave numbers that in Boston per student costs are closer to $30,000/year. So how does it make sense to bus student to your town that spends less than half of this? Buses are not cheap either. But I of course glad if students who strive to work can get better education.

  6. Anonymous: The Boston and Cambridge city school districts definitely spend more than the typical suburb. All of these numbers are understated, though, I think, due to not including the full cost of real estate. (Maybe pension costs are understated too because otherwise why do we have an underfunded pension system? Eventually those promised pensions will have to be paid!)

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