- - Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The New York Times began its story on Stuyvesant High School in New York City with this paragraph, meant to be heart-wrenching:

“Sarai Pridgen had just gotten home from debate practice on Monday evening when she opened her laptop to find her Facebook feed flooded with stories about a staggering statistic: only seven black students had been admitted into Stuyvesant High School, out of 895 spots. The number was causing a wrenching citywide discussion about race and inequality in America’s largest school system.”

What to do? What to do when the irresistible force (mandatory integration) meets the immovable object (low black test scores)? Who should win in the great contest between diversity and merit?

This should be fun to watch — it’s always fun to watch the lefties fighting each other. But there’s tragedy here, and it’s largely of the left’s making.

William Lohier, 17, is one of just 29 black students out of about 3,300 teenagers at Stuyvesant. Lohier, whose father is black and whose mother is Korean American, said the numbers had made him feel both angry and committed to improving the school culture.

Sarai Pridgen, whose father is black and grew up in New York City and whose mother is from Spain, said, “I’ve been told that the only reason I got into Stuyvesant is because I’m black, even though the test doesn’t even factor that in.”

Last year, the mayor of New York, whose current name (his third) is Bill de Blasio, proposed scrapping Stuyvesant’s entrance exam and instead taking the top performers at every city middle school. Many were not amused.

Even a graduate of a New York City high school — well, that may be a stretch — could tell that Mr. de Blasio’s plan would greatly reduce the intellectual level at Stuyvesant. His plan is opposed by Stuyvesant graduates and by Asian-American groups. Hmm. Why Asian-American groups?

Because 73 percent of Stuyvesant’s students are Asians, that’s why. Only 20 percent are white, only 3 percent are Hispanic and just under 1 percent are black.

New York City’s school system as a whole, however, is nearly 70 percent black and Hispanic, and only 15 percent white and Asian.

Asians, as a group, are hardworking, and going to Stuyvesant or one of the other NYC select schools is their big chance — as it would be for any black or white or Hispanic student as well.

Just why do Asians do better? Are they genetically different? It is surely OK (or is it?) to say that Bob is brighter than Sam (i.e., his genes make him more intelligent). But is it OK to say that Asians are brighter than other people?

And is that not what the statistics at Stuyvesant are telling us? Not all people are equal in their abilities. Black children in New York City are not equal in their abilities to other New York City children, especially Asians. Of course, blacks have, or at least have had, an obvious excuse — centuries of discrimination that deprived them of, inter alia, educational opportunities.

But that excuse is wearing thin. We’ve had affirmative action now for decades.

Obviously, there are factors beyond genetics and historical discrimination. Here are some other statistics worth considering. In 2016, 66.5 percent of black children born in New York City were illegitimate. The rate for Asian children isn’t recorded: they are included in “other,” for which the rate was 19.5 percent. For the United States as a whole, however, the rate of illegitimacy for Asians is only 11.8 percent, and it’s a reasonable guess that the figure for New York City is comparable.

Does anyone doubt that family structure is a major determinant in how well a child does? Illegitimacy is a structural problem for blacks, and a political problem for liberals. What’s the likelihood of a New York Times reporter telling us whether the few blacks at Stuyvesant live with both parents? Or making the point that living with both parents gives a child a better chance in life?

Liberals have spent decades trashing the cultural inheritance of Western Civilization — who needs marriage? — even while sneakily observing it themselves. If they really cared about blacks, they would speak up for marriage. They don’t.

And so for most black children, in New York City and elsewhere, the tragedy goes on. Life will continue to be one of poverty — financial poverty, intellectual poverty and probably spiritual poverty as well.

Except for the few lucky ones, probably living with both parents, who can escape to the Stuyvesant highs.

Daniel Oliver is chairman of the board of the Education and Research Institute and a director of Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco.

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