Yale vs. Jackson in perception of a set of numbers

DAN RODRICKS

April 13, 1993|By DAN RODRICKS

This column established Jan. 8, 1979. Two thousand fifty-eight columns without a lost-time accident.

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A local Yale alumnus was infuriated at Jesse Jackson's assertion, quoted here April 3, that "last year, not one child from New Haven went to Yale." In a sermon in Baltimore in 1992, Jackson said many poor kids, particularly inner-city minorities, do not have the opportunities accorded children in more affluent communities.

Disparity in income, he said, equals disparity in education. He suggested elite schools, such as Yale, were not doing enough to educate children from the cities in which they exist.

"Outrageous," charged the Yale grad in Baltimore.

For the record, of the 2,425 students accepted at Yale for the fall of 1992, 62 of them were from "New Haven-area schools," including private preps and parochial schools as well as suburban and city high schools. Out of that number, nine -- the most in a decade -- were graduates of that Connecticut city's public schools, and four of them were minorities. The year before, five students from New Haven public schools were accepted at Yale.

So Jesse Jackson was wrong -- in numbers, but not necessarily in spirit. Doesn't sound like Yale has a lot to brag about here.

"The university is justifiably proud of its recruitment efforts," writes the Baltimore Yalie.

Which shows how two people can have strikingly different perceptions -- "Is the glass half empty or half full?" -- of a single set of numbers. . . . By the way, two years ago, a committee at Yale criticized the number of minorities and women among its faculty. "Yale's position and its national image in this area remains precariously close to the backwaters of academic progress," the committee, and not Jesse Jackson, said.

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Recommended reading: "The Middle Passage," by Charles Johnson; and "Birth of a Fan," edited by Ron Fimrite. . . . Daniel Pinkwater's description of a Chicago-style hot dog last week on National Public Radio was absolutely salivating. After seeing the Easter Eve mob last Saturday morning outside Ostrowski's on Bank Street, I think I've decided what the city's new motto should be: "Baltimore: We Double-Park For Sausage."

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"Both in and out of the wild, high mortality is a fact of life for dolphin calves," said last week's announcement from the National Aquarium. "Approximately 20 percent of the calves are stillborn; about 40 percent of those born alive die within the first month."

That statement, which followed the death of an 18-day-old dolphin calf, has not been disputed. However, at least some research indicates striking exceptions to this "fact of life."

For one thing, a dolphin calf's chances for survival appear to be enhanced dramatically by the maturity of its mother.

Randy Wells, who specializes in conservation biology and works for the Chicago Zoological Society, has conducted extensive research on free-ranging dolphins off the coast of Florida, in the Sarasota area.

In particular, he and his colleagues have examined dolphin calf survival.

The older the mother, Wells concludes, the greater the chance the calf will live to an age of independence (about 3 years).

"Mothers often lose their first and sometimes their second calves, and more than half of all calves born to Sarasota mothers younger than 15 years old die before reaching independence," Wells wrote in the August 1991 edition of Natural History. "In contrast, older, more experienced mothers successfully rear four out of five calves."

Wells was writing about dolphins in the wild, an important distinction from the calf that died in Baltimore last week. That dolphin, of course, was born in captivity. Its mother, Nani, has been in captivity for 18 out of her 21 years. She had given birth two other times during her captive life. Both those calves also died.

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A cranky reader in Arbutus responds to last week's can't-help-myself suggestion that Oriole Park get an organist.

"Camden Yards needs an organist like a basset hound needs hip boots," he wrote. "If organs belong in ballparks, beer vendors belong in cathedrals."

Hey, pal, get yourself to metaphor therapy fast. And LIGHTEN UP!

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