EXPLOSIVE: Was Carter Page a Russkie agent?

SATURDAY, MAY 19, 2018

The Times pushes the story along:
Was Carter Page some sort of Russkie agent?

We have no way of knowing. By the time the Mueller probe is done, we may all get a clearer idea concerning questions like that.

In the meantime, certain people are going to push claims and insinuations along.

When it comes to insinuations and overstatements regarding Page, one major gigantic cable news star rarely misses a chance to "hang him high." In fairness, this was already part of her TV show's culture before Page shambled along.

Then too, we were struck by something we read in Thursday's New York Times. In a lengthy retrospective report, three Times reporters said this:
APUZZO, GOLDMAN AND FANDOS (5/17/18): Crossfire Hurricane began with a focus on four campaign officials. But by mid-fall 2016, Mr. Page’s inquiry had progressed the furthest. Agents had known Mr. Page for years. Russian spies tried to recruit him in 2013, and he was dismissive when agents warned him about it, a half-dozen current and former officials said.
Back is 2013, was Page "dismissive" when he was warned about the Russkie approach?

We have no way of knowing. We're not even completely sure we know what the statement means.

That said, we decided to check the prior news report to which the three scribes linked in that passage. That report appeared in the Times in April 2017. Here's the way it began:
GOLDMAN (4/5/17): Russian intelligence operatives tried in 2013 to recruit an American businessman and eventual foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who is now part of the F.B.I. investigation into Russia’s interference into the American election, according to federal court documents and a statement issued by the businessman.

The businessman, Carter Page, met with one of three Russians who were eventually charged with being undeclared officers with Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the S.V.R. The F.B.I. interviewed Mr. Page in 2013 as part of an investigation into the spy ring, but decided that he had not known the man was a spy, and the bureau never accused Mr. Page of wrongdoing.
Interesting! Back then, we weren't told that Page had been "dismissive" when clued by the FBI. Instead, we were told this:
The FBI decided that Page hadn't known that he'd been approached by a spy!
As you can see, the Times has come a long way baby from that initial report. On Thursday, the Times reporters cited that initial report as their source. But here's how the Times has now a-changed:
April 5, 2017: The FBI interviewed Page and decided he hadn't known that he'd been approached by a spy.

May 16, 2018: The FBI interviewed Page and judged that he was "dismissive."
Questions:

Is it true? Did the FBI decide that Page didn't know that he'd been approached by a spy? If so, as a matter of fundamental fairness, should Times readers have been apprised of that fact in Thursday's retrospective?

If that's what the FBI decided, we'd say Times readers should have been told. We voice this judgment in the name of fundamental fairness (among other desirable traits).

At any rate, Thursday's report linked to the prior report as its source. We'd say it engineered a major change in tone—and a drift toward insinuation.

Was Carter Page some sort of Russkie agent? At present, we have no way of knowing. We hope some day to find out.

That said, regarding the age-old cult of insinuation and the unparalleled pleasures of hanging them high, we'd be inclined to say this:

A big cable star likes to play it that way. Should the Times follow suit?

Also this: This headline, in this morning's Times, is about as didactic as a headline on a front-page news report gets:
F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims
The news report is shaky enough. (Example: Do you see Trump quoted anywhere using the key term "spy?")

The news report is shaky enough. The headline leaps beyond the report, and is a bit Pravdaesque.

Coming Monday: Big star's absurd toadyism

BREAKING: "I peddled a lot of oppo on Gore!"

FRIDAY, MAY 18, 2018

The extent of our tribe's degradation:
Way back when, we admired Nicolle Wallace's competence, back when she was pimping war and torture for Bush.

Today, she's one of our tribe's most admired stars! We have so few stars of our own!

We'll have to admit—despite past respect for her competence, we've come to despise the way she chuckles her way through her 4 PM program each day on MSNBC.

For Wallace, this whole Trump thing is loads of fun. It's an hour-long meeting of the club. If you can forgive a gendered remark, her daily show has the feel of a laugh-strewn kaffeeklatsch

This morning, Wallace filled in for Mika on Morning Joe; Willie Geist-Haskell was subbing for Joe. At one point, Nicolle said this:
GEIST-HASKELL (5/18/18): You've worked on campaigns, Nicolle Wallace. You've worked on a lot of campaigns.

WALLACE: I've worked on a lot of campaigns. I've peddled a lot of oppo, about a lot of people—Al Gore, John Kerry, President Obama, Joe Biden.

I have never, ever, ever been in receipt of anything from Russians...
At least she never did that! To watch this exchange, click here.

She peddled a lot of oppo on Gore! Today, she's our pitiful tribe's new number-one favorite star.

As we watched this exchange with Haskell-Geist Junior, we thought about all that oppo from Campaign 2000. In fairness, the Bush campaign barely had to bother, so dedicated was the mainstream press corps to this destructive task, which constituted two years of payback aimed at the loathed Bill Clinton.

For some reason, we thought about Ceci Connolly's pitiful con concerning Gore's enlistment in the army. An account of the episode can be found in our incomparable archives, but it went down something like this:

One day, at some event, Gore mentioned the fact that he had enlisted after college. In her news report in the next day's Washington Post, Ceci implied that Gore enlisted only because he got a bad number in the draft lottery.

Unlike millions of other slimings by Connolly, this sliming never took off. But it was especially phony, even by Connolly's standards.

Why phony? Gore enlisted in August 1969. The draft lottery wasn't conducted until that December. People with his birthdate did get a low draft number, but he'd already been in the army four months.

At the time, we wondered if this could have been an honest mistake. Apparently not! In other news reports about Gore's remarks that day, it turned out that he had explicitly described this chronology, in spite of which Ceci struck.

The Post and the Times played these games from March 1999 right through the November 2000 election (and beyond). Career liberal players, so silly and so fearless today, all knew they should keep their traps shut.

Connolly kept it up for two years. The liberal world sat there and took it.

Given this disappeared history, Wallace didn't have to peddle that much oppo back then. But she peddled it anyway, after which she peddled the war. Today, she's our pitiful tribe's number-one favorite new star.

She "peddled a lot of oppo on Gore!" But she didn't get it from the Russkies. She got it from Ceci and Kit!

Why not catch her program today? She'll laugh and chuckle and rollick her way right through the whole rollicking hour! For overpaid stars of the cable news game, opposition to Trump is good work for good pay and it's good solid fun.

As stated by Steve Martin: “I used to smoke marijuana. But I’ll tell you something: I would only smoke it in the late evening. Oh, occasionally the early evening, but usually the late evening—or the mid-evening. Just the early evening, mid-evening and late evening. Occasionally, early afternoon, early mid-afternoon, or perhaps the late-mid-afternoon. Oh, sometimes the early-mid-late-early morning. . . . But never at dusk.”

Also, he never got it from the Russians! Why not give credit where due?

BREAKING: Why the attacks go on and on!

FRIDAY, MAY 18, 2018

It only takes one:
On our daily and nightly cable entertainment spectacles, we liberals get to imagine the joy of seeing The Others on trial.

We also get to laugh about the foolishness of Don and Rudy's attacks. We do this because we may be slightly dumb. Consider part of what's happening.

We love to think about the way Manafort will spend the rest of his life in prison. Have we ever heard about the way a jury works?

If one juror decides the whole trial is a witch hunt driven by fake news from traitors within the deep state, then no conviction can be obtained. We have to assume that this is part of the strategy behind the ongoing attacks from twin terrors Don and Rudy.

Meanwhile, there was the New York Times yesterday, treating Rudy's latest claims like gospel. By night, the same reporters are on TV, helping our programs along.

Still and all, this is good entertainment. Nicolle laughs and laughs for an hour each day. Our next post will concern our new tribal love for her.

Also this: Coming soon to your TV machine, Real Barristers of Cable News!

Top-flight behind-the-scenes cable news fun! We'd say it works best at Bravo!

GAPS AND SCHOOLS: Everybody wants "good schools!"

FRIDAY, MAY 18, 2018

Part 5—No one knows how to create them:
This morning's New York Times helps us see why we can't have nice things.

Here at this site, we'd planned to focus on Richard Kahlenberg's attempts to "create public schools that are more integrated." More specifically, we'd planned to focus on his current efforts in Chicago.

The formulation that we've quoted comes from Anya Kamenetz, "NPR's lead education blogger." In March of 2017, Kamenetz interviewed Kahlenberg about his efforts in Chicago. Her report appeared beneath an unfortunate headline at NPR's web site:
Try This One Trick To Improve Student Outcomes
We don't know who composed that unfortunate headline. That said, its cheeky tone suggests the degree of concern upper-end news orgs tend to bring to the topic of education for low-income kids.

Cheeky headline to the side, what's the "one trick" NPR said we should try? Kamenetz explained it like this:
KAMENETZ (3/16/17): Richard Kahlenberg has spent decades stumping for a third way. His idea: Create public schools that are more integrated. He helped innovate the use of social and economic indicators to do that—instead of race and ethnicity, the use of which is prohibited by a 2007 Supreme Court decision.

His strategy could be summed up as: Give poor kids the opportunity to attend school with not-so-poor kids.
"Give poor kids the opportunity to attend school with not-so-poor kids?" In principle, and where possible, that is, at least theoretically, a very good idea.

We include a litany of qualifiers because there are so many ways this good idea can, in practice, go wrong. Also because of this sobering yet other-worldly exchange, which starts with a factual error by Kamenetz:
KAMENETZ: In New York City, where I live, as your report notes, 77 percent of students live in poverty. How do you create economically mixed schools if there aren't enough middle-class kids to go around?

KAHLENBERG: I worked with Chicago Public Schools on their socioeconomic integration plan. The district is 85 percent low-income. My recommendation was not to ensure that every school was 85 percent low-income, because high-poverty schools are bad for students. In Chicago what they've done is to begin with magnet and selective-enrollment schools. You want to create a virtuous cycle where people can see examples of success.

KAMENETZ: It almost sounds like a chemistry experiment—you have to control the conditions very carefully and titrate your mixture until it hits that tipping point.

KAHLENBERG: The long-term aspiration is that, as you develop more socioeconomically integrated schools, that the overall demographics of the public school system could shift. We saw that in Cambridge: Over time, more middle-class and white people came back into the district, stopped using private schools and stopped moving away once their kids got to be a certain age.
In education parlance, "low-income" doesn't mean "poverty." It isn't true that 77 percent of New York City kids are living in poverty.

Setting that requisite groaner to the side, let's focus on Kahlenberg's thinking.

All things being equal, it's a good and decent idea to "give poor kids the opportunity to attend school with not-so-poor kids." That said, all things aren't equal around the country, not by the longest of long shots.

For example, all things aren't equal in Chicago, where, in Kamenetz's admirably direct formulation, "there aren't enough middle-class kids to go around." What do you do in a system like that, if you want to give low-income kids a better chance in school?

What do you do in a system like that? In our view, Kahlenberg's answer is other-worldly—and also, highly instructive:

What do you do in a city like that? According to Kahlenberg, you create a small number of "socioeconomically integrated schools," for example through the creation of magnet schools, which are typically aimed at the higher-achieving and more ambitious students.

In Kahlenberg's formulation, when people see how well those few schools operate, some sort of demographic miracle will occur—in a city whose student population is currently 85 percent low-income! (And 87 percent black and Hispanic.)

That's the "one trick" NPR said we ought to try! By our reckoning, this trick should erase our ginormous achievement gaps by some time in or near the start of the 23rd century.

In the meantime, first-graders are going to school today, and they'll also be going to school tomorrow. In the fall, their younger sibling will be starting kindergarten. What's going to happen to them?

These good, decent kids will be going to school in cities which are overwhelmingly low-income, and also black and Hispanic. While we wait for NPR's "one trick" to blossom in Chicago, what is going to happen to them? Who's going to serve those kids?

Anthropologically speaking, our upper-end news orgs are crammed with people who are skilled at ignoring such questions. Anthropologically speaking, experts say that it seems to be the nature of the beast.

The kids in question don't really matter, except to the extent that we can use them as pawns in our attempts to engage in old-fashioned moral posturing about our moral greatness. You won't hear the lives of these children discussed on your favorite "liberal" TV shows. Nor will you see their interests discussed at your favorite liberal sites.

We liberals quit on these kids long ago. To the extent that we bother posing and pretending at all, we bloviate about "integration" and "desegregation," racial and socioeconomic. We posture about possible academic gains for tiny handfuls of kids. We imagine magical outcomes, in centuries yet to come.

So it was in this morning's New York Times, where a reporter who isn't an education specialist conducted the latest magical mystery tour of the drive toward "desegregation" in New York City's schools. In her report, Winnie Hu focuses again on School 54, the "high-performing" Manhattan school which would be affected by the "desegregation plan" now under consideration for the middle schools in New York City's District 3.

Hu quoted a parent from School 54; his wife had been quoted by Elizabeth Harris in her own report about School 54 back on May 2. This parent had a sensible point of concern about the proposed plan, along with a tired old claim about where achievement gaps come from.

Hu quoted that family again. But in a democratizing flourish, she also quoted parents from all over the city. Few of them seemed to have any obvious idea what they were talking about.

Hu created a Babel of complaints and theories. Eventually, we hit upon this suggestion:
HU (5/18/18): Naila Rosario, a mother of two in largely working-class Sunset Park, recalled her frustration one year when even the top-performing student at her neighborhood elementary school was not admitted to [high-performing] M.S. 51. Meanwhile, she noted, Park Slope's prestigious Public School 321 sent many students to M.S. 51, year after year.

''It's not fair, it's not equitable,'' she said. ''All kids should have access to all the schools—and not because you live in a certain neighborhood and your parents have access to certain resources.''
Why did that "top-performing student" get turned down at high-performing School 51? We don't know, but then again, neither does Hu or this parent. It's possible that the Park Slope kids were simply better students.

That said, this parent's solution, while perfectly reasonable—all kids should have access to all the schools—leaves us where we began. Across the city of New York, the average child would be in a school which was 77 percent low-income.

All the schools would end up being New York City average. No one would be in a high-performing middle school whose students were high-performers coming in. There's nothing automatically wrong about this parent's suggestion, but these are precisely the kinds of schools Kahlenberg says he wants to avoid.

Meanwhile, each of those schools would have to deal with the giant achievement gaps found in New York City schools, where many kids achieve 1's on the state math exam and other kids achieve 4's. As you may recall, the river in New York City is wide, and it's hard to row over:
Average scores by percentiles, 2017 Naep
Grade 8 math, New York City Public Schools

90th percentile: 329.72
75th percentile: 303.23
50th percentile: 272.76
25th percentile: 245.27
10th percentile: 222.66
By standard methods of reckoning, the gaps in achievement are gigantic. And how would the typical middle school handle that wide range of achievement? Here's what Hu reports from another "high-performing" middle school in District 3:
HU: At the Computer School, which receives up to 1,000 applicants for 140 sixth-grade spots, about 19 percent of those admitted for the fall scored either 1s or 2s on the state tests. Once admitted, students with low and high test scores learn side by side. ''I see it as a challenge, but that's what we're supposed to do as educators—we're supposed to be the problem solvers,'' said Henry Zymeck, the principal.
Really? Once admitted, these students learn side by side? They don't get split into "advanced" and "regular" and "remedial" classes, where the racial patterns we liberals despise will tend to appear again?

Despite those giant achievement gaps, these students learn side by side? We'd love to know how that works—or why anyone thinks it would. Lacking a background in education, Hu didn't think to ask.

These students all learn side by side? Think about what that means.

Think back! When you were in middle school and high school, did the kids who were taking Latin 4 learn side by side with the kids who were taking first-year Latin? Did the kids who were acing calculus learn side by side with the kids who flunked Algebra 1 last year and were taking it over again?

Did everyone learn side by side? Would it even make sense to try? We don't know who would run a school that way, or why anyone would think that approach made optimal sense. Anthropologically speaking, though, we liberals seem to be unable to think rationally about our low-income kids, their needs and their actual interests.

And make no mistake—the reason we bumble ahead in this way is because nobody actually cares. Given our manifest lack of interest, few things could be more clear.

Back on May 2, Elizabeth Harris wrote a fascinating news report about District 3's proposed plan. Already, the chancellor had apologized for a racially inflammatory statement he made about white parents who didn't like the plan. This sort of thing routinely occurs when we try to square the public school race-and-achievement circle in ways which make no real sense in the end.

We like to pretend there's some magical way to desegregate our way out of our grinding achievement gaps. In the real world, there's no such exit ramp. But we aren't rational animals, and we like to pretend.

In Harris' report, one parent said she hoped that lower-achieving students might do better academically if they get to attend School 54. Another parent worried that lower-achieving kids might not be able to handle the work at the school. Each statement was perfectly sensible, absent further explanation.

A third parent was quoted at the end of Harris' report. Like Chekhov's desperate dreaming couple in The Lady With the Lapdog, here's what the third parent said:
HARRIS (5/2/18): [Chancellor] Carranza has not said whether he will ultimately endorse the plan, though he has called it ''well thought-out'' and ''very moderate.'' On Tuesday, after meeting with legislators in Albany, Mr. Carranza said that while communities should be part of the conversation about integration, ''at some point we have to act on our beliefs.''

He went on, ''My belief is that schools should be integrated.''

For Tracy Alpert, a white parent who has one child at P.S. 191, which was at the center of an earlier desegregation debate in the district, the answer was clear. ''They need more good schools. It's a scarce resource,'' she said. ''We need more good seats at good schools.''
The chancellor's declaration wasn't gigantically helpful. Everyone believes that public schools should be integrated. It all depends on what the meaning of "integration" is!

Meanwhile, to that third parent, the answer was clear. We need more "good schools," the parent said. We need more seats at such schools.

The parent offered no ideas about how these "good schools" would actually work. Nor did Harris seem to have asked her.

In that moment, a lesson was taught:

Everybody wants "good schools." But no one knows how to create them!

Next week: Gaps and solutions—good schools for struggling kids

BREAKING: How to get from maybe to is!

THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2018

How to play fast and loose:
In our last post, we showed you how they reason at the New York Times.

Now, let's review the way our biggest stars reason on cable.

The unnamed star we have in mind loves to "hang 'em high." If you've been accused or suspected of something, that almost certainly makes you guilty inside this major star's mind.

She especially loves to hang Carter Page high. Last evening, she read this passage from the latest New York Times report:
APUZZO, GOLDMAN AND FANDOS (5/17/18): Crossfire Hurricane began with a focus on four campaign officials, but by mid fall 2016, the Carter Page inquiry had progressed the furthest. Agents had known Mr. Page for years. Russian spies had tried to recruit him in 2013. And when agents warned him about that, he was dismissive.

That warning even made its way back to Russian intelligence, leaving agents suspecting that Carter Page had reported their efforts to Moscow.
We've highlighted only one word: "suspecting." With her usual lightning speed, our cable star made her usual move.

With lightning speed, she moved directly from "suspect[ed]" to "knew." She proceeded to several more of her favorite misleading and inaccurate claims which tilt the scale against Page, one of her favorite targets.

(He's just a little too weird for this star, who bought her first TV set by mistake when she got blackout drunk. No, really! True story!

This star has been doing this sort of thing for years. She simply loves to hang them high—and of course, to entertain us with her marvelous "cable news" jokes.

Marvelous jokes from this one segment: Crossfire Hurricane? "Come on! It's a great name for a squirt gun, but really?"

Also, Crossfire Hurricane? The New York Times was "breaking the news that FBI agents are a bunch of drama queens!"

People, she's going to be there all week—and she'll likely be hanging them high.

BREAKING: If Rudy says it, it must be true!

THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2018

So says the New York Times:
Does Robert Mueller believe he has the legal authority to indict Donald J. Trump?

According to Rudy Giuliani, Mueller has told the Trump legal team that he feels he cannot indict Trump. For reasons only the gods can explain, three reporters at the New York Times are acting as if they sgould simply assume that Giuliani's claims must be true.

We know—that sounds quite strange. Giuliani has seemed to make many odd statements of late. It has been widely noted that he isn't the world's most reliable source.

Still, in this morning's news report, three reporters treat his latest proclamations as gospel. Below, you see the passage in question. This strikes us as very strange:
SCHMIDT, HABERMAN AND SAVAGE (5/17/18): [T]he question of whether the president can be indicted is unsettled. Many legal experts and current and former Justice Department officials believed that Mr. Mueller would follow the conclusions of Justice Department lawyers, who argued during both the Nixon and Clinton administrations that an indictment would interfere with the president’s constitutional responsibilities and powers to run the executive branch.

Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said the special counsel’s office displayed uncertainty about whether Mr. Trump could be indicted. “When I met with Mueller’s team, they seemed to be in a little bit of confusion about whether they could indict,” Mr. Giuliani said. “We said, ‘It’s pretty clear that you have to follow D.O.J. policy.’”

Mr. Giuliani said that one member of Mr. Mueller’s office acknowledged that the president could not be indicted. Two or three days later, Mr. Giuliani said, Mr. Mueller’s office called another of the president’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, to say that prosecutors would adhere to the Justice Department view.

“They can’t indict,” Mr. Giuliani said. “They can’t indict.
Because if they did, it would be dismissed quickly. There’s no precedent for a president being indicted.”
According to Giuliani, one member of Mueller's team told him, Giuliani, that Trump could not be indicted. Also according to Giuliani, Mueller's office telephoned Jay Sekulow a few days later to deliver the same message.

Given Giuliani's erratic behavior in recent years and his weird remarks of the past few weeks, it's hard to know why anyone would accept such claims as dispositive. But this is the peculiar way The New York Times Trio continued:
SCHMIDT, HABERMAN AND SAVAGE (continuing directly): It is not clear why Mr. Mueller has decided that he will not seek Mr. Trump’s indictment. A spokesman for the special counsel declined to offer clarity about the assertions of Mr. Giuliani, who since being hired last month by Mr. Trump has repeatedly made statements that were later clarified. In his most notable misstep, he mischaracterized how payments were made by Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to a pornographic film actress who has said she had sex with Mr. Trump. The president has denied her accusation.
In the highlighted statement, the reporters treat Giuliani's claims as if they were dispositive. Weirdly, they then offer a list of reasons why his claims shouldn't be so regarded.

This odd report was written by three of the New York Times' heaviest hitters. Is any other newspaper quite as strange as the glorious Times?

Also this: The passages we've posted come from the middle of today's news report. The first two paragraphs of the report are rather puzzling too:
SCHMIDT, HABERMAN AND SAVAGE (5/17/18): The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, will not indict President Trump if he finds wrongdoing in his investigation of Trump campaign links to Russia, according to the president’s lawyers. They said Wednesday that Mr. Mueller’s investigators told them that he would adhere to the Justice Department’s view that the Constitution bars prosecuting sitting presidents.

The disclosure provides the greatest clarity to date about how Mr. Mueller, who is also investigating whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself, may proceed. If he concludes that he has evidence that the president broke the law, experts say, he now has only two main options while Mr. Trump remains in office: He could write a report about the president’s conduct that Congress might use as part of any impeachment proceedings, or he could deem the president as an unindicted co-conspirator in court documents.
In their opening sentence, the reporters say that Mueller will not indict Trump according to Trump's lawyers.

They then refer to this assertion as a "disclosure" and treat it as a settled point. Of course, if we're all still speaking English, the assertion only becomes a "disclosure" if the assertion is actually true. And where's the proof of that?

Please note: the reporters also make it sound like they're sourcing their own assertions to more than one Trump lawyer. They aren't! As the report unfolds, they quote Giuliani alone; they quote no one else. (There is no sign that they spoke to Sekulow themselves.)

Giuliani's statements could be true, of course. But especially given their later statements about his erratic behavior, why did these nitwits believe him?

Only the Times behaves this way. Does anyone know why it does?

GAPS AND SCHOOLS: "Nowhere to run to" in modern Detroit!

THURSDAY, MAY 17, 2018

Part 4—School 54, where are you?:
Like so many people around the country, Irene Butler, a Manhattan resident, is almost surely a good decent admirable person.

Almost surely, a novelizing journalist would describe Butler as "salt of the earth." Her grandson is a sixth-grader at West Prep Academy, a Manhattan middle school where Butler says students are struggling.

Butler thinks her her grandson might be better off academically at Manhattan's School 54, a higher-performing middle school located two blocks away from West Prep. It's possible that she's right about that. It's possible that she's wrong.

For the record, School 54's higher performance is based on the fact that its students were higher-performing back in fifth grade, before they set foot in the school. That said, it's possible that Butler's grandson would gain from attending a school with so many higher-performing, higher-income kids.

Then too, other things could happen:

It's possible that her grandson would be placed in a "remedial" math class, based on his relatively low math achievement level. This academic assignment might make perfect sense, but in this class, he wouldn't interact with the higher-performing kids who make the school higher-performing.

Here's something else which could happen:

It's possible that District 3's proposed "desegregation plan" might produce a bit of a backlash. School 54's higher-performing kids might look down on the lower-performing kids for whom seats at the school would be reserved under terms of the plan.

This backlash might even extend to the higher-performing black and Hispanic kids who already attend the school. As has sometimes happened elsewhere, white and Asian-American kids might start looking down on all their black and Hispanic schoolmates, assuming they all attend the school by dint of the proposed plan.

It's also possible that some families—white, black, Hispanic, Asian—might take their kids out of the New York City Public schools as a result of the plan. A certain number of higher-performing kids would end up at lower-performing West Prep as a result of the plan. Inevitably, a certain percentage of these kids would likely end up in parochial or private schools.

As everyone knows, these are the downsides which may sometimes tend to result from "desegregation plans" like the current District 3 proposal. Presumably, these are the sorts of downsides Mayor de Blasio had in mind when he spoke with the New York Times' Mara Gay, who proceeded to roast him for failing to "see the light" about "city-wide integration," as she herself has done.

Along the way, a deserving kid like Butler's grandson might end up doing better in class—or then again, he might not. But as we ponder all these possibilities, make no mistake about this:

Across New York City, across the nation, few such approaches can be taken with respect to our giant achievement gaps. In most urban settings, there is no School 54, just two blocks away, into which a small number of struggling kids can gain admission.

There's no such school in many of New York City's 33 other districts. Then too, consider Detroit:

New York City is a bit of an outlier among our big urban school systems. Its demographics make it stand out. According to Professor Reardon, those demographics looked like this in grades 3-8 during his recent nationwide study:
New York City Public Schools, grades 3-8
White kids: 15 percent
Black kids: 30 percent
Hispanic kids: 40 percent
Asian-American kids: 15 percent

Median family income: $42,000
Within the high-minded framework of the Times, New York City has an unusual number of "desirable" kids, as urban school systems go. In parts of the system like District 3, its schools retain an unusual number of middle- and upper-income kids. Most gloriously of all, the overall system is only 70% black and Hispanic!

The blinkered meliorists of the Times look on these data with pride. They rush to support "desegregation plans" which may save a few of the less desirable kids.

Whatever one thinks of District 3's proposed plan, such approaches are impossible almost everywhere else. Is Detroit, to cite one example, there's "nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide" for unhappy kids who are struggling in school. In Reardon's study, the Motor City's demographics looked like this:
Detroit Public Schools, grades 3-8
White kids: 2 percent
Black kids: 87 percent
Hispanic kids: 9 percent
Asian-American kids: 1 percent

Median family income: $27,000
School 54, where are you? There is no pool of higher-income white kids to draw on in Detroit. And the kids of Detroit need a lot of help. Below, you see some punishing data from last year's Naep math tests:
Average scores by percentiles, 2017 Naep
Grade 4 math, Detroit Public Schools

50th percentile: 199.23
25th percentile: 181.84

(National average: 239.16)

Grade 8 math, Detroit Public Schools
50th percentile: 244.25
25th percentile: 226.16

(National average: 281.96)
The river is very wide! Applying a very rough rule of thumb, the eighth-grader in Detroit who scored at the 50th percentile citywide was almost four years behind the nation's average eighth-grader in math.

That river is extremely wide—and twenty-five percent of Detroit's kids were substantially farther behind than that! Having said that, please understand:

Modern Detroit has no School 54's to which these kids can be sent. In Detroit, as in so many big cities, such schools simply don't exist.

"Can't forget the Motor City," Martha Reeves sang long ago. By now, it's much too late for any such thought as that.

By now, the struggling kids of Detroit have been completely forgotten. More accurately, they've been disappeared within our self-involved, upper-end "liberal" frameworks.

Their classroom struggles don't get discussed, and certainly not by seven- and eight-figure corporate stars like Rachel, Chris and Lawrence. Those kids don't count, don't even exist. Neither do millions of kids in other systems which have no School 54's.

We liberals! At the New York Times, we like to strut about District 3's plan. We like to fret about the mayor who hasn't yet "seen the light."

We posture about the handful of kids who might end up at School 54. All those other kids "across the nation" can just go hang in the yard.

Whatever one thinks of the District 3 plan, we can't "desegregate" our way out of our giant gaps! Tomorrow, though, we'll visit Chicago, to see what this peculiar type of posturing currently looks like there.

We'll recall de Blasio's crazy remark, in which he said that you could have good schools with just black and Hispanic kids! And we'll quote a third parent from District 3—a parent who, like everyone else, says we just need more "good schools."

Tomorrow: Everyone wants "good schools!"

Can so forget the Motor City: Reeves emerged from the Motor City in the early 1960s. To see her list the cities whose children have been abandoned by our big liberal stars, you can just click here.

In our view, that young person's smile, which couldn't be taught, was a statement about human greatness. On the other hand, Rachel has some wonderful entertainment product to fob off on you tonight.