Just look who will be in the gallery: Several fascinating education reports appeared in the weekend’s newspapers.
We’ll look at them in the next several days. For today, we thought we’d revisit the life and the death of Chicago’s Hadiya Pendleton.
Pendleton, 15 years of age, was shot and killed just one week after performing in last month’s inaugural parade. On Saturday, her funeral was held in Chicago.
In Sunday's Washington Post, Philip Rucker quoted her friends and described a lost ambition:
RUCKER (2/10/12): [Mrs.] Obama sat quietly as Pendleton was remembered as an honors student and majorette who loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss and aspired to major in pharmacology or journalism in college. She wanted to go to Harvard.Last week, we were told that Pendleton loved her Latin class. On this occasion, we were told that she wanted to go to Harvard.
One after another, Pendleton’s teary-eyed classmates recalled their friend’s contagious smile and soft, baby voice. “She tried to tell a scary story, but no one could take her seriously,” one said.
For ourselves, we were struck by the photo which showed ten of her schoolmates from Chicago's King College Prep, ten of her fellow majorettes. From their appearance, we’ll offer an informed guess:
Pendleton’s school is full of good decent kids—good decent kids like she was. Later, Rucker quoted Pendleton’s mother making a heartbreaking comment:
RUCKER: Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former Chicago Public Schools chief, sat with Jarrett and the first lady. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, both Democrats, also attended, as did the Rev. Jesse Jackson.“I had her thinking from the time she could speak.” We’ll call that a heartbreaking comment.
To Pendleton’s mother, known as Cleo, the show of dignitaries was at times overwhelming. “You kind of don’t know how to act,” she confessed.
Her remarks ranged from the jovial—“If I knew how to dance, I would…We’ve got the first lady as a mother in the house”—to the serious. Of raising Hadiya, she said, “I kept her busy so she wouldn’t run into the element. I had her thinking from the time she could speak.”
Last night, watching the Maddow Show, we learned that Pendleton’s mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, will be Mrs. Obama’s guest at tonight’s State of the Union Address. As she continued, Maddow described some of the evening’s other guests:
MADDOW (2/11/13): After attending the funeral this weekend of Hadiya Pendleton, the young Chicago honor student who was shot dead in Chicago just a week after she performed as a majorette in the parade honoring the president`s inauguration in Washington, D.C., just after attending the young woman’s funeral this weekend, the first lady, Michelle Obama, will be hosting her mother, Hadiya Pendleton’s mother, as one of her guests for the president’s speech.It won’t just be Cowley-Pendleton. It sounds like quite a few mourning families will be in the chamber tonight.
Interestingly, a number of the Democratic members of the House, Democratic members of Congress, I should say, both Houses, have also announced that they have given tickets to the speech to relatives and friends of people who have been killed by gun violence, including relatives and friends of victims of the Aurora mass shooting, Aurora, Colorado, and the Newtown mass shooting from December, and the Tucson mass shooting.
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband will be attending as guests of her replacement in Congress, Ron Barber, who was Gabby Giffords’ staffer and who was himself wounded in the Tucson shooting. They will also be guests of Senator John McCain.
We were struck by the sheer volume of pain which will be present in the hall. Maddow, snarking and rolling her Rs in this segment, had a different thought. Within moments of the passage we’ve posted, she explained that Republican congressman Steve Stockman will have rocker gun-rights advocate Ted Nugent in the chamber tonight as his guest.
This led her to close with this thought:
“The State of the Union is always an amazing and historic night in American politics. It is one of our oldest and I think best civic rituals as a nation. But this year, it’s going to be even more of a hoot than usual.”
It’s really going to be a hoot, what with all those grieving families mixed in with Ted Nugent!
We know—she didn’t mean to sound crass. But riches and fame can do that.
Watching Maddow and Lawrence last night, we wondered if the level of snark is rising on The One True Channel. It really seemed no statement was made without a requisite bit of The Snide.
We were also struck by the yawning chasm between the empathy we feel for Our Own and the open contempt we seem to direct at The Others.
We liberals are being trained to be tribal. The tribal is rarely real smart.
Coming: The Union City, New Jersey schools
Also, Michelle Rhee’s new book