Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What Does "Inferior" Mean?

John Derbyshire reacts to Obama's speech:
"Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students."
What on earth does this mean? It's true that there is widespread school segregation today. In my state, 60 percent of black students attend schools that are at least 90-percent black. From what I can see, the main reason for this is the great reluctance of nonblack parents to send their kids to schools with too many black students, which they assume are beset by all the problems associated with poorly run public schools. Do you think that they — actually we, as my wife and I share this reluctance — are wrong to think like this? How will you persuade us to think otherwise? Or will you depend on judicially-imposed forced integration of the schools?
Okay... So where Derbyshire comes from, parents assume that majority-black schools are not suitable for their children because "they assume [the schools] are beset by all the problems associated with poorly run public schools", yet he feigns confusion over Obama's use of the word "inferior"?

What does Derbyshire see as the difference between "poorly run public schools" and the public schools to which he would happily send his kids? If he measures school quality by racial composition, the only benchmark for distinction he cites, how is he not reinforcing Obama's point?

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