SCHOOL LIVES [DON'T] MATTER: Nobody cares about Abel Cedeno!

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2017

Part 3—More specifically, nobody cares Over Here:
Let's start with a blatantly obvious statement:

Nobody cares about Abel Cedeno, age 18, apparently of the Bronx. Also, nobody cared about the late Matthew McCree, who was 15 years old when he died last week.

(An unarmed teen was killed last week? For reasons your lizard brain can explain, you haven't heard the first freaking word about it.)

Cedeno, McCree? Their lives, and their school lives, didn't matter. Few things could be more clear.

Let's get clear on another basic point. When we say that their lives didn't matter, we don't mean that their lives didn't matter to the Very Bad People we love to hate, the very bad racist bigoted people so widely found Over There.

We mean that their lives didn't matter to our own tribe's vaunted corporate TV stars. We mean that, among many others, Rachel, Lawrence, Chris, Chris and Joy don't and didn't care.

Few things could be more obvious. Let's take a look at the record.

Last Wednesday morning, Cedeno allegedly stabbed and killed McCree during a history class at their public high school in the Bronx. The school bears a high-fallutin' name along with some horrible test scores and some other unfortunate indicators of student alienation and disinterest.

Last Thursday amd Friday mornings, the New York Times ran news reports about the killing, reportedly the first inside a New York City school in more than twenty years. In its initial news report, the Times reported the very low passing rates on statewide tests which were being achieved at the high-fallutin' school.

The Times also published the first few allegations about the atmosphere within the school, which is devoted, for reasons unknown, to wildlife conservation.

What was life like inside this school, which shares a building with P.S. 67, an elementary school? We can't answer that question, but we can expose you to the first few facts and allegations the Times reported:
NIR (9/28/17): In the first half of this year, the Police Department recorded 11 public safety episodes at the school, which has 545 students in grades 6 through 12, according to department data. There were two arrests, both for assault.

Police officials said on Wednesday that metal detectors could have prevented the violence at the Wildlife Conservation school. But some advocates argue that metal detectors create a negative environment and make students feel as though they are under suspicion.

[...]

Three years ago, the school changed principals, and it appears to have faced some challenges since: In a school survey conducted last year, just 55 percent of students said that they felt safe in the hallways, bathrooms, locker rooms and cafeteria, down from 74 percent the year before.

On Wednesday, as the school was plunged into a lockdown, the safety felt all the more elusive.
Despite its devotion to conservation, the school appeared to have faced some challenges! As she ended her report, Nir offered an example of what she meant:
NIR (continuing directly): Lennette Berry's 13-year-old daughter texted her from where she was stranded, in theater class. A boy had attacked two of his classmates, the girl, an eighth grader, wrote in a text message.

''Was he being bullied?'' Ms. Berry texted back. ''Yes,'' her daughter replied.
The bullying meme was dominant in this initial news report. Meanwhile, on the same day McCree was killed, another boy had allegedly attacked two of his classmates in some undefined way.

The girl who texted this claim is 13 years old. Does her school life matter?

This school is devoted to saving the tiger, but who has been saving its kids? On Friday morning, the Times ran a longer, front-page report which described conditions at the school. A pair of Times reporters started like this:
MUELLER AND BAKER (9/29/17): A week into his senior year, the 18-year-old student logged onto Amazon and bought a knife: a spring-loaded switchblade, slim enough to stay hidden in his pocket but sturdy enough, at a price of $30, that it could be lethal.

The student, Abel Cedeno, told a friend he felt trapped. Classmates were mocking him with racist and homophobic slurs, he said. Under a Facebook video on Sept. 16 in which he popped the knife open, he asked why people thought he was soft. Detectives believe he started taking the knife to school, a five-story brick building on Mohegan Avenue in the Bronx where some parents worried their children were so unprotected that they had, in the past, taken to patrolling the hallways themselves.
Say what? Some parents felt their children were so unprotected that they patrolled the hallways themselves?

Mueller and Baker described the incident which left McCree, age 15, dead. They also described the taunting and bullying which allegedly preceded it.

Eventually, they reported some allegations by parents. We can't evaluate the accuracy of their claims, but the report started with this:
MUELLER AND BAKER: City officials, facing an outcry from parents for not having had metal detectors at the school before, scrambled to put them in place on Thursday. But parents still kept their children home in droves...

Parents said their fears stemmed from a failure by school officials to deal with complaints of bullying. They described students cursing openly in hallways, taunting teachers and leaving condoms and marijuana blunts in the hallways.

Kayesha McIntosh, 32, said she once told school officials that students were pulling her daughter's hair. They suggested she put her daughter's hair in a bun.

''Like that was going to stop her from being bullied,'' Ms. McIntosh said. ''They knew she was getting bullied and they didn't do anything.''
They suggested she put her daughter's hair in a bun? Long ago and far away, we worked in Baltimore City's schools for thirteen years. That story doesn't sound implausible to us. Nor would we automatically condemn "school officials" for it.

Is that story accurate? We have no way of knowing. That said, Mueller and Baker described what allegedly happened next:

"Feeling abandoned by teachers, [McIntosh] said she visited the parents of one of the offending students herself."

She visited one of the parents herself! Without suggesting she shouldn't have done so, what could have gone wrong?

Do these children's school lives matter? As the reporters continued, they presented an allegation by another mother. This concerned an alleged incident at the elementary school:
MUELLER AND BAKER: Another mother, Jovana Russell, a former PTA president at P.S. 67, said she pulled her daughter from the elementary school after a high school student exposed himself to her in the stairwell several years ago. After parents' requests for more security were turned down, she said, they started patrolling the hallways themselves.

Students described feeling as though they had to defend themselves. Some parents said that led to cycles of bullying and violence in which students who were bullied became angry at a lack of action by the school and started threatening other students.
Do those kids' school lives matter? The worst statement of all came next:
MUELLER AND BAKER (continuing directly): There is little indication that the Wildlife Conservation school is one of the most dangerous in the city. But so routine was the trouble that another mother, Uneek Valentin, 37, said that she was having a meeting with the principal about bullying only to have the principal dash out of the office because a fight had broken out in the school.

Ms. Valentin's son, Dwhy Hoyt, a senior, said bullies curse at teachers, skip class and slap books out of students' hands, ruining the learning environment.

Mr. Hoyt, 17, said he had learned to defend himself, only to be chided by school officials for fighting, and had stopped reporting some incidents.

''I had to fight my own battles and make people into my friend,'' he said.
So ended the Times' front-page report. On the brighter side for parents at the porpoise-loving palladium, "there is little indication that the Wildlife Conservation school is one of the most dangerous in the city!"

This week, the jugglers and the clowns have entertained us with the question of whether Rex called Donald a moron. Meanwhile, you haven't seen a single word about these Times reports.

Your multimillionaire corporate stars would literally enter the lions' den before they'd ask you to consider the lives of the non-meritocratic children who attend such schools. Their corporate owners would never let them discuss a topic like that, and they do what they're told.

As you surely know by now, our self-affirming "liberal" tribe pretends that school lives matter in one type of circumstance only. If someone gets killed in a way we find tribally useful, we go into Full Bullshit Mode about that young person's death.

We invent some facts about his death; we may have to disappear others. For purposes of pathos, we emphasize facts which are wholly irrelevant, a practice in which Hillary Clinton engages again in her best-selling book. This makes us feel tribally good.

In this way, we posture and preen. In the end, it must be said: if we're to be judged by behavior alone, we'll be judged as very bad people. We'll be judged as comically bad.

The lives of kids who go to these schools stopped mattering a long time ago. Tomorrow, we'll start with a recent well-known book which portrayed the school lives of such kids, and then we'll turn to those two-year-old test scores—the test scores Rachel, Lawrence, two Chrisses and Joy will simply never discuss.

Tomorrow: A change in a long-standing pattern

The Bronx is full of beautiful kids:
Check out this little girl here

24 comments:

  1. There's a lot of people not to care about, including alcoholics and mentally ill sleeping on the street, people living in squalid refugee camps, and plenty more.

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    1. Add to your list domestic violence, gang violence, drunk drivers and pedestrians hit in crosswalks, elderly with health issues and no social support, immigrants smuggled in shipping containers, child prostitutes, and many others in need.

      I am offended whenever Somerby claims we don't care about others. (He starts by saying the press doesn't care, then concludes that our tribe doesn't care.) I think we ignore the problems we don't know how to fix, publicize the deaths associated with change someone is trying to make.

      I'm also not sure it is the job of the media to care. The responsibility lies with the people, implemented by government at various levels, non-profits and social organizations. Churches used to care (some still do, but many others do not). The people who care on a local level have several organizations they can volunteer or donate to. But the media isn't involved in such ongoing efforts, although our local TV station highlights the efforts of what it calls local heroes -- those who help others.

      I wonder how much of that Somerby does.

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  2. I was struck by the examples Bob provided of extreme lack of discipline. When I went to elementary school in the Bronx many years ago, we took discipline for granted. In fact, it wasn't even thought of as discipline; it was just ordinary behavior. I would guess that today's lack of discipline is one reason Bronx public schools are less effective than they once were.

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    1. Shut up and go away.

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    2. David does zero to deserve that in the sincere post you're replying to here. If someone's going away, I'd far rather it was you.

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    3. Anon 1:46 is also being sincere, Unknown. I recall you telling me to go away, so you aren't really one to talk, are you?

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    4. David is disguising a racist dog whistle in his comment so he does deserve a harsh teply. The demographics of the bronx have changed dramatically. David is trying to hint that is the reason his high school went down hill. There is no room for him here.

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  3. I don't really get Somerby's tone. He finds a story worth discussing (in the New York Times, by the way, that horrible, horrible rag (according to Somerby)), and then, instead of just discussing it, he complains that Rachel and Chris and Chris etc DIDN'T discuss it, and how this shows what bad people they and we (all liberals!) are. It's illogical. It just makes no sense. No human being can agonize over every single instance of injustice at all times. How dare Somerby suggest that no one cares. People in general (liberals and conservatives) who donate to charities or volunteer for specific causes shouldn't be chastised for not donating to ALL charities or not volunteering for ALL causes, for God's sake. That's insane. It's also insulting to all the people who DO care. But somehow, once again, Somerby uses this sad story to mock and demean liberals, while supposedly being one himself. Is this the tone that MLK would have used, Bob? When you talk like this, it's demoralizing to good people everywhere. And by the way, there are people dying in refugee camps in Syria. Haven't heard you discuss that. You must be a bad person (to use your own logic).
    It seems that your main goal is not to express concern about stories like this one, but to use these kinds of stories as clubs to wield in your unending vendetta against Chris and Chris and Rachel and all of us liberals.
    By the way, those shows on MSNBC are principally focussed on politics, per a corporate decision. And you have no idea what those TV people do in their spare time, which charities they support, etc. So you are casting aspersions on them, perhaps unfairly. Remember telling us not to do that with the other side?
    I mean, if you think a liberal voice is missing on issues/stories like this, why don't you BE that iberal voice, instead of turning it into a tirade against those you depise?

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  4. To be fair, some of that sounds like journalistic hype. "The principal had to leave the office because a fight broke out". What school anywhere never has any fights?

    Then there is this. "Dwhy Hoyt, a senior, said bullies curse at teachers, skip class and slap books out of students' hands, ruining the learning environment..."

    How are they ruining the learning environment if the disruptors skip class? "Slap books out of students hands" Where is this happening? In class or in the halls? Seems to me that "dumping books" was a multiple daily happening at my junior high.

    My school was a small town school with 650-900 students in three grades.

    Not trying to minimize things, but some of that reporting seems rather breathless like "the sky is falling, there were fights and a student said a naughty word."

    Also, I would note that in some ways this story DOES fit the liberal narrative, at least if Cedeno really IS gay. The liberal narrative seems to be "only GLBTQRSOBAFGKMRN kids get bullied." When bullying is discussed it always seems to be the bullying of that particular group.

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    1. "The liberal narrative seems to be "only GLBTQRSOBAFGKMRN kids get bullied." "
      First of all, congrats on satirizing an entire group of people with the "GLBT...". Ha ha! Really funny. Secondly, you are simply wrong. How it 'seems' to you reflects something wrong in your understanding of things, and not the reality. Here's an example of your illogic in action: It seems to me that the conservative narrative is that poor people are lazy and bad people. My thinking it must mean it's true, so I don't need to examine my beliefs, at least that's the impression one gets from your comment.

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    2. There is an interesting article in the NY Times today about the bullying of boys who study ballet. My husband (now 76) studied music and was bullied by other boys and also by the coaches in high school who wanted him to come out for football instead of playing in the band. In some working class families, boys who prefer reading to playing outdoors are bullied by their fathers into more manly pursuits because they think intellectual interests are gay (or a sign a child will become an effete know-it-all). Anti-intellectual occurs in white homes too where kids may surpass their parents in educational aspirations.

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    3. Boys get bullied over being or acting gay. What do girls get bullied over? Weight, looks? Shunning not fighting is the method, but is there a theme to female bullying?

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  5. "For purposes of pathos, we emphasize facts which are wholly irrelevant, a practice in which Hillary Clinton engages again in her best-selling book."

    Yes you do, but for the whole lot of you it's a mental condition, while in the "book" it's a narrative produced by cynical ghost writes. The "book" (among other things) is serving the purpose of maintaining this unfortunate mental condition.

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    1. Hillary walked a tightrope between the version of events believed by the mothers, with whom she was campaigning, and the many people with various interests, some determined to show Trayvon Martin deserved his death, others determined to convict Zimmerman. Hillary used a few words to identify the case and Somerby disagreed with her characterization. It doesn't make Hillary bad. It is so trivial that no strong conclusion can be drawn about her or her motives. Assuming the book is ghostwritten is just another slur.

      I would match Hillary public service working directly with children, parents and public agencies and schools against Somerby's any day. She has been in the trenches trying to solve problems. People don't know that who watch Fox news or listen to trolls. Somerby should know better but he is too lazy to do his homework on Hillary's life. Instead, he takes potshots, no doubt in service of Bernie's ambitions -- another person who "cares" but does little to help.

      Somerby needs to walk the walk. Then he will earn the right to claim Hillary doesn't care about kids!

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  6. Here is an ugly statement:

    "The Bronx is full of beautiful kids: Check out this little girl here"

    When you follow his link, you see two women, holding a little girl by the hand. The little girl looks shocked while the two women with her are so consumed with their own grief they ignore the child and do nothing to comfort her. She is being dragged along by the hand while she appears to be in a stupor.

    And Somerby calls her a beautiful child. That is as misplaced a remark as the tone-deaf things Trump said in Puerto Rico.

    Obviously, many people are affected by an incident like this one. That little girl appears abandoned but can we conclude that in the next moment her mother didn't snatch her up and hug her and help comfort her in her confusion. Is she really neglected, as Somerby and the photo both imply? Do black moms not care about their kids? The tears belie that. Will that little girl be bullied, will she become a bully? Will it matter whether she is beautiful or not?

    Somerby is a jerk to use a picture like this to make his point -- whatever that might be, since he never says anything directly, like the coward he is.

    Those moms love their black kids. Their teachers care about them. Their community cares about them. On what basis can Somerby assert this is not true. And we don't care whether they are beautiful or plain -- their looks aren't the basis of their worth. And calling them "beautiful" doesn't prove Somerby cares about them any more than anyone else. It just shows he thinks good looks are a symbol of value (something he and Trump apparently share). Maybe he should stick to calling such kids deserving.

    We are fortunate the press didn't decide to interview that girl. In that way, perhaps they did show some caring for her.

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    1. Thank you for an elegantly argued post.

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    2. Anon 1:26, I'm assuming that that little girl is not beautiful by the standards you set up in your little screed.

      "Is she really neglected, as Somerby and the photo both imply?"

      She and her schoolmates have been neglected at large by society. Didn't you get the fucking point of Bob's post? Nobody in the msm is paying attention to the issues encountered by these students in any meaningful way.

      If you want to argue with Bob's point, have at it. In this instance, you missed by a long mile.



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    3. Case in point: Nobody heard about the circumstances encountered by students at this school until some one was actually murdered.

      Now the NYT will move on. As flawed as the coverage was, at least they covered it.

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    4. Leroy, I'm saying that little girls do not have value because they are beautiful, nor do women. This child is a person. It is creepy to call kids beautiful.

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    5. "She and her schoolmates have been neglected at large by society. Didn't you get the fucking point "
      Aside from the unnecessary profanity, you are blaming society, then you blame the msm. Why not blame Somerby, who didn't find out about it or report about it? If Somerby cares so goddamned much about it, why was he so clueless about it until he read it in the much maligned NY Times? Why not blame everyone on earth? Do YOU care about inner city schools? It sure is easy to blame someone else (the media in this case) and pretend to care in so doing. There actually are people who care about this, not that Somerby seems to care or notice. You either, Leroy.

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    6. Leroy, if Somerby cares so much about educational neglect in the Bronx, why did I bring up the priblems with DeVos and charters before he did? And why didn't he support Hillary -- the best hope for improving our schools? Somerby is an ass.

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    7. First of all, some crow eating. I regret using profanity. I apologize to anon 1:26. @8:41, I think you misunderstood the word in its context. She’s a beautiful child. Look what she’s been put through, the beauty is not diminished. She’s a lovely child, and part of our future.

      @8:43, yes, I deeply care. It is Bob who brings these things to my attention. Education for all is the only way for us to move forward as a civilization (a personal observation), and civics and the humanities must be forefront in this consideration as far as I’m concerned.

      The fact that you don’t think Bob cares – which was, as far as I could tell, the reason for his post, means that I think you misunderstood it.

      @8:44, I’ve been hoping Bob would tackle such a large project. Others have done so with aplomb. Bob delves elsewhere.

      The reason I went off as I did is that I (and others) tire of explaining to people that Bob is a media critic. That’s what this site is all about. This article is a case in point: The travails of this particular school – and many others – is off the radar to the msm. I was just trying to say, stay on point. I will endeavor towards more kindness in the future.

      Cheers!

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    8. I still respectfully disagree a little with the criticism of the media for "not caring." It isn't the media's job to be an advocate or an activist. They report, then Bob, you, and I have to take action. That's OUR job as citizens. The media could report the story every day to eternity, but that's no substitute for concerned citizens doing something. The media DID report on this. What else are they supposed to do? I'm not claiming the media is perfect, but messing up facts or spreading false information is one thing, but this isn't an example of that. And, yes, "media critic" is the role Somerby has chosen for himself, but he quite frequently steps outside that role, especially when he calls liberals "stupid" or claims that "no one cares" about situations like this one in inner city schools. That was another of my main points: those kinds of judgments have no place in a well-reasoned critique of the media. They are the very kinds of sweeping generalizations that Somerby denounces in others.

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  7. “ I still respectfully disagree a little with the criticism of the media for "not caring." It isn't the media's job to be an advocate or an activist.”

    I totally respectfully disagree. On important issues, “the media” (let’s call that “reporting”) should inform it’s viewers. To Bob’s point:
    “This week, the jugglers and the clowns have entertained us with the question of whether Rex called Donald a moron. Meanwhile, you haven't seen a single word about these Times reports.”

    Bob does seem to love the Gray Lady when it supports his views, but is critical when necessary. That’s okay with me.

    “The media DID report on this.”

    Yes indeed, when there was murder involved.
    Nothing to see here move along. Because that is how it will play out.

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