One dead, the others ignored: Nicholas Kristof wrote a type of good news column today.
Kristof discussed our national high school chess champion team. This is the way he started:
KRISTOF (1/31/13): You see America and its education system in all their glorious, exhilarating, crushing, infuriating contradictions in our national high school chess champion team.Black and Hispanic kids, playing national championship chess—and out of their age division! We wish more people got to see and hear about things like that.
Chess tends to be the domain of privileged schools whose star players have had their own personal chess coaches since elementary school. Yet the national champion team comes from a high-poverty, inner-city school, and four-fifths of its members are black or Hispanic.
More astounding, these aren’t even high school kids yet. In April, New York’s Intermediate School 318 in Brooklyn, where 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, became the first middle school team ever to defeat kids about four years older and win the national high school championship.
In one way, that good news story was echoed in this morning's in this morning's horrible news report.
Last week, Hadiya Pendleton, 15 years old, performed at President Obama’s inaugural as part of the majorette team from Chicago's King College Prep. On Tuesday, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park at 2 in the afternoon. Her assailant was apparently shooting at rival gang members, or thought he was doing so.
This is the part of this news report which made us think of Kristof’s column:
YACCINO (1/31/13): Friends described Ms. Pendleton as a girl with an easy smile and generous nature. She loved Latin class and had worked hard on her overhand serve for the school volleyball team.Hadiya Pendleton, 15 years old in Chicago, is said to have loved Latin class! We recommend that you click on that link—that you take a minute to consider the beautiful face of this child.
The inauguration trip was an inspiration, [Pendleton’s friend Klyn] Jones said. “He was an African-American from Chicago, and she is too,” Ms. Jones said. “It goes to show that as long as you put your mind to something, you can do it and affect the world.”
Our benighted ancestors devoted centuries to the attempt to make sure that there would never be someone like Peterson—that there would never be a chess team like the one Kristof describes.
Kristof announced today that he will be on leave for several months. We’ll beg him to do the following when he returns to his column:
Help the public hear more about kids like Pendleton! Let the public hear the truth about our nation’s rising test scores—more precisely, about the rising scores achieved by black and Hispanic students.
There’s still a serious achievement gap within the nation’s test scores. But black kids’ test scores just keep rising—and the Serious People in our press corps refuse to tell people about it.
What can make their hearts so cold that they would refuse to share this news—that they keep discussing achievement gaps without discussing the rise in test scores? What makes them refuse to give readers a chance to admire, appreciate and cheer for our black kids?
As a general matter, Kristof sticks to the scripts of Serious People concerning education reform. When he returns to his column, we’d like to see him tell the public the truth about the tens of thousands of kids like Peterson—about the many good decent kids who may even love Latin class.
In fourth grade, black kids now score higher in math than white kids did in the age of Clinton. That is an astonishing fact.
Serious People refuse to write it. It’s hard to know what makes such people so heartless, so cold.
On the bright side: On the bright side, Lawrence O’Donnell cares about kids in Malawi.