Having written so much about crime, and education on this blog in its first few years of existence I rarely return to them as topics. Sometimes contemporary events and their reporting cause me to return to them in order to remind readers, and myself, of what the most significant issues are.
Starting with crime and the perception of danger two follow-up stories to homicides were particularly enlightening again as to the bias of the media when it comes to urban crime. In Springfield a man was arrested for murdering his wife in a domestic dispute. The arrest was made immediately after the discovery of the body and an explanation as to motive was immediately revealed to the public. As a follow up a local news outlet published this piece:
In another case of suspicious death, but this time in a rural area, with 4 people found dead in their home under what the police are calling “suspicious circumstances”, requesting information on anything anyone may have seen occur in the area in recent days, and advising the public to be vigilant regarding their homes and their families this piece is published:
Any references to fear? Anyone being quoted as “locking their doors” or changing their behavior?
So a man stabs his wife and is arrested…be afraid, lock your doors, think about how dangerous your neighborhood is; also note no comment on sorrow for the victim. But 4 dead bodies are discovered under suspicious circumstances, without motive, or a suspect, officials warn people to keep their eyes open and be alert…but no one is even a little bit concerned about their own safety? Really? Or is the media pushing the narrative in one way or another because it suits them?
On the education front, I can’t help but recall an article from long before Rational Urbanism existed which was discussing the Springfield Public Schools in some way and mentioned, in passing, that 4th graders in the city were reading at the national average, and that Black students in Springfield scored higher on standardized tests than in any other urban district in the state. Talk about burying the lead! 4th graders reading at the national average in a majority minority system with 90% of kids on free/reduced priced lunch and and an enormous number of English language learners; “I took a middle school hockey team to the Olympics, but they only won the bronze medal”. Black students scoring highest in this particular city? Maybe something worthy of further investigation, I don’t know.
In any case, this week it was announced that NOT ONLY had Springfield graduation rates risen 8% in the last year and 20% in the last 5 years, but that African American students were now graduating at a higher rate than White students. That fact wasn’t even mentioned in the article actually. The data was there, but it received no comment. The White graduation rate had increased from 76% to 83%, but he graduation rate of Black students had leapfrogged that in going from 73% to 85%.
Further investigation is warranted of course, and a piece of data consisting of just one year of information is subject to relatively broad swings; there may even be explanations regarding White students and Charter Schools which skew the data as well, but in an age where the achievement gap is an enormous topic of discussion and a very similar nearby district, Hartford, has taken a completely different path in an attempt to reduce the enormous differences in graduation rates between White and minority students this certainly warrants further examination. Or at least a mention.