Wednesday, September 5, 2012

True Elites are Not Upper Class; Instead Top-Out-of-Sight

Nydwracu mentioned that a high school, with great accolades, is dysfunctional. My reply:

"Which school? I want to compare it to my theory that actual elite schools don't show up on these kinds of lists."

More generally, real elites are smart enough not to show up in the news, or answer surveys, or much of anything similar. If you're lucky, they show up in tax receipts.

Eleanor Roosevelt High School is famous, lauded, and not even close to deserving it. I used John Taylor Gatto as a reference for schools to compare.

Philips Andover, Episcopal, and St. Albans.

They have 'notable alumni' sections. Eleanor graduates athletes, entertainers, and Sergey Brin, who is clearly an outlier. So do the others, but Gatto's information is accurate - they also have congressmen, law professors, CEOs, activists, chief editors for the Atlantic, and several other influential professions.

St. Albans is famous.
"A 2004 article in the Wall Street Journal found that among U.S. schools, St. Albans had the 11th-highest success rate in placing graduates at 10 selective universities. [...] The school opened its new Upper School building - Marriott Hall - in 2009–2010. The firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill LLP, designed the new building, which has been the subject of articles in numerous publications,"
However, only Eleanor's article reports any awards at all.
"Roosevelt has received numerous prestigious academic awards throughout its thirty-four year history. The school is a rare two-time awarded National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for 1991 and 1998; a 1991 and 1998 Maryland Blue Ribbon School; a 1999 New American High School; a recipient of the 2002–2003 national Siemens Awards for Advanced Placement; and was named a 2002 National School of Character by the Character Education Partnership. Eleanor Roosevelt is regarded as one of the most academically challenging high schools in the nation, and for years has consistently ranked as the highest performing school in Prince George's County, averaging the highest combined SAT score in the county of 1570 out of 2400. Roosevelt also has more students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses---with more students receiving a passing score of three or higher---than any other high school in the county. Roosevelt was recently named #382 on America's Top 1,500 Public High Schools list for 2009, by Newsweek Magazine and was also recognized as a Silver Medal School by U.S. News & World Report, in 2008."

This been-in-the-news standard predicts that St. Albans is the least elite of the three examples. Phillips, which hides its 'notable alumni' section behind a link, is the most elite. To check - indeed, it graduated an actual President, both Bushes. Its history section specifically mentions it is geared toward Yale and Harvard. Episcopal should be in the middle, and indeed it had a bit appear in Time Magazine - over seventy years ago. Andover is mentioned in a recent article, but only in passing, there is no detailed account.

I'm surprised they have wiki pages beyond a stub.

One of the consequences is that if you've heard of someone, they're probably not that influential. Conversely, you did your own research, but if you can find someone to discuss them with, they're not that influential. Being blamed by a journalist and being responsible for the screw-up are mutually exclusive, generally. Net result is that everyone, even the upper classes, are obsessed with nobodies.

For example, Sergey Brin seems decently influential. It's easy to go one better - who were Google's venture capitalists? Who picked Brin as a winner? And who invested with that capital firm? Do the names Michael Moritz or John Doerr mean anything to you? More importantly, do you know whose money Moritz and Doerr represent, and thus who has effective hire-and-fire over them?