Newsletter #202: Choosing A School For Raffi


Over the years, friends (and sometimes strangers) have asked me where they should send their kids to school. I’m not sure why they ask me. Maybe it’s because I work in education? It’s an awkward question. My tendency is not to offer direct advice, even though my opinions are strong on this topic. After all, they already know where I stand. Plus, I don’t have kids. And besides, we need to make our own decisions and be prepared to stand by them. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop me from recommending excellent articles on the topic, like this week’s lead piece, which I urge you to read.

+ I can’t tell you what happened at Pop-Up Article Club last Saturday (including who was there and what we read) because the event remains anonymous and mysterious. But I can reveal that it was great, as usual, and that you should sign up for a chance to attend the next one on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2-4 pm.

+ Possible new feature: Who says it’s a good idea for me to highlight and annotate an article from a physical newspaper or magazine? (I do. Maybe you, too?) Here’s this week’s close read.

Choosing A School For Raffi

Keith Gessen is a successful writer who lives in Brooklyn with his wife and 4-year-old son, Raffi. Like many white liberals, Mr. Gessen has read Nikole Hannah-Jones and therefore wants to send Raffi to a racially diverse kindergarten. But when theory becomes reality, he finds out that choosing a school is not easy. He writes:

If you chose a “good school,” wood blocks, an active and well-resourced PTA, you neglected society, and what sort of parent would want to make society any shittier than it already was? But if you chose society, justice, equality, you chose, a little bit, against your kid—no wood blocks, no after-school enrichment. And, man, you had to have a lot of confidence in the enriching nature of your own parenting to believe it didn’t matter where your kid went to school.

Mr. Gessen’s dilemma is common for many white parents with privilege. I understand there’s no perfect answer. But I question his assumptions and disagree with his either-or thinking. Do you have empathy for Mr. Gessen? Do you think he made the right decision? Please let me know! (18 min)

+ Read more great articles on this topic here, here, here and here.

What Led An Angry Disabled Kid To Create A Dark Corner Of The Internet

Born with a genetic disorder that left him disabled, Fredrick Brennan battled loneliness for most of his childhood, especially after his parents divorced and he entered foster care. As a teenager, he discovered anonymous online message boards, found his voice, and founded 8chan, the horrific site responsible for Pizzagate and the Christchurch shootings. Now Mr. Brennan has grown up and wants to repent. Too bad there’s no way to erase what he’s created. (16 min)

+ Read this article with my highlights and notes.

An Epidemic of Disbelief

Almost all rapes — 98 percent of the 125,000 reported each year — do not result in conviction. That’s because police officers discourage victims from filing reports, and because rape kits go untested, and because detectives don’t get assigned to cases, and arrests aren’t made, and charges aren’t brought, and because juries acquit the defendants. As long as most rape survivors are women, and as long as most law enforcement officers are men, argues Barbara Bradley Hagerty, rape will remain the easiest violent crime to get away with, over and over again. (37 min)

The California Coast Is Disappearing. The Only Answer Is To Leave The Shore.

Quite a dramatic headline, don’t you think? I know, articles on climate change, with their doomsday conclusions, are sometimes so gloomy that they’re no fun to read. But read this one, please, especially if you live in California, and you’ll learn about how cities like San Francisco, Pacifica, and Imperial Beach are erecting seawalls, importing sand, and encouraging homeowners to retreat inland. So far, most people are ignoring the problem. (30 min)

+ Can you save the shore? Play this interactive game.

+ Reader Annotations: Loyal reader Beth read all four articles this week and wrote, “It was great to see Tony’s face. Glad I had read the article about incels earlier this summer to understand the reference in the Paris Review article. The NYT article on busing was incredibly detailed and important. Thanks for reading a 336-page book; I don’t have time for that right now. And the racism in Maryland: I can barely fathom.” Go ahead: Be like Beth, read all four articles this week, and let me know what you think!

Loyal reader Nicki shared these thoughts on “The Making of a YouTube Radical, from Issue #197:

I felt like I was reading the plot of a Black Mirror episode about artificial intelligence — how it is being used to both make predictions about human video-watching habits as well as to shift people’s views on topics. This sounds dangerous to me! Is anyone else worried about it this as much as I am?

Thank you, Beth and Nicki, for giving back to The Highlighter reading community and getting your ideas out there. Let’s keep the conversation going!

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