MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2015
Anderson gets it right: We’ve sometimes mentioned an important fact.
The city of Baltimore is full of superb young people. We see these superlative, admirable kids every day of the week.
We’re talking about kids of grade school age. We’re also talking about young people who are older, right up through the purposeful, impressive young people we see at Morgan State.
What kinds of kids are we talking about? In this unusual piece at the Atlantic, Melinda Anderson offers one example.
Anderson profiles Scott Thompson II, a 13-year old freshman at Baltimore City College, a deceptively-named academic high school of long standing and great tradition.
Thompson is only one person, of course. Beyond that, there are plenty of superb young people in Baltimore who couldn’t get admitted to City College. That doesn’t mean that those other kids aren’t equally superb in the ways we mean; Thompson’s strengths, as portrayed by Anderson, go beyond reading and writing.
As portrayed by Anderson, it sounds like Thompson is very lucky in the family he has, though his father is no longer living. (“[My family] won’t allow me to not be something. If I fall, I need to get right back up...”)
It also sounds like some superlative people helped Thompson at his middle school, Southwest Baltimore Charter, especially humanities teacher Valencia Gray.
All over the country, a lot of people have tried very hard, often with substantial success, to create better schools for city kids. This is true in many charter schools. It’s also true in many traditional public schools.
As Thompson describes his middle school, he is describing the fruit of such efforts, an important fact he may not be aware of. (There’s no reason why he should be.) At any rate, the important fact of this improvement brings us back to our constant complaint:
What kind of “press corps” refuses to report the rising achievement levels attained by Thompson and his peers nationwide? What kind of “press corps” keeps sliming the work of people like Gray in the dumbest possible ways, apparently in the constant attempt to keep themselves on message?
What kind of “liberal world” is willing to tolerate these unhelpful, propagandistic phenomena? With respect to Anderson’s young subject, why can’t the wider society be allowed to learn about, and take pride in, decent young people like this?
Can we talk? The caliber of our young people and our teachers far exceeds the caliber of our journalists and our other elites. The latest peculiar example:
Yesterday morning, we gaped at this piece in the Washington Post; it was written by Harold Levy, former chancellor of the New York City schools. Judging from the column he wrote, Levy has just discovered a troubling phenomenon—a phenomenon everyone else has been discussing for quite a few years now.
We’re sure that Levy’s a good, decent person. That said, it sounds like he has just arrived back on the planet after an unexcused absence of quite a few years. The fact that the Post would publish his piece seems to mean that the Washington Post is clueless too, despite its attempt to maintain a high profile in the area of public ed.
We’ll look at Levy’s piece tomorrow. For today, we’ll only say that Anderson has written the type of piece whose constant, unhelpful absence we’ve always gnashed our teeth and torn our luxuriant hair about.
The country is full of good, decent kids. Why can’t the public be told?
Previous examples of good, decent kids: Alumni of Baltimore City College include Elijah Cummings, our current congressman, and Ben Cardin, one of our two United States senators.
Also Alger Hiss, Class of ’21! There’s one in every crowd!