Under the headline “A glimpse of the truth is costly for cartoonist,” Journal Inquirer Chris Powell today waded in on the issues surrounding Courant cartoonist Bob Englehart’s controversial blog comment about inner-city poor students and schools. His was one many thoughtful pieces on this topic. Your thoughts?
“While he was suspended for a week as the Hartford Courant’s political cartoonist, maybe Connecticut can thank Bob Englehart for providing unprecedented acknowledgment from the political left that the main problem with the state’s worst-performing schools is not the teachers or the facilities but the students themselves.”
“Englehart was suspended for comments he posted in his corner on the Courant’s Internet site about Connecticut’s notorious “achievement gap” between city and suburban schools. He wrote: “Inner-city poor and minority-filled schools aren’t going to change until we can somehow change the pervasive core of the problem: dysfunctional inner-city poor minority families. … For the most part, losers raise losers. Somehow we’ve got to get to these families and teach them how to respect education. Till then, nothing will change.”
“It’s not clear exactly what about these comments got Englehart suspended, nor why he apologized. No one explained.”
Here is a piece of a blog radio personality and former Courant reporter Colin McEnroe
“His choice of words was terrible, but was Englehart THAT far off in his comments? I had a similar set of thoughts — framed less invidiously — during the governor’s Wednesday speech. Here’s the truth (as I see it): Kids in Simsbury and Wilton are born on second base, and they spend their school years rounding third and barreling for home as their parents pace the sidelines with stopwatches. And those parents are up in the faces of school officials making sure that system works. Hartford and Bridgeport kids are more likely to be born at home plate with a one- or two-strike count. They are the (sometimes literally and sometimes metaphorically) grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the students whose inferior schooling was never adequately addressed in the reform movements of the 1930s…or the 1960s…or the 1990s. If you could apply the concept of compound interest to inferior medical care, unsafe neighborhoods, psychological demoralization, environmental injustice and myriad other social ills, maybe you could quantify the thick impasto of disadvantage enjoyed by today’s fourth or fifth generation urban person of color.
The Tenured Cartoonist
There are few jobs in the world in which the employee can insult anyone he wants with near-impunity. Yet that’s what The Hartford Courant’s Bob Englehart does on a weekly basis — or, since he’s joined the ranks of The Courant’s bloggers, on a daily basis.
Terrible Bob put up a post last week that offended just about everyone you can imagine. The Courant foolishly took it down (more on that later) but anyone with a little technical prowess can search for the post on Google and open the cached version (Google saves everything). If that doesn’t work, Romanesko has a tidy summary.
I think Bob told the truth: losers do breed losers. His problem, however, was that he injected race into the picture and made it sound like “minority-filled” schools have a monopoly on loserdom. That, I can tell you from first-hand experience, is not true. My wife works in a rural school district in upstate NY that is predominantly white and low-income. The social pathologies she has to deal with every day would make your head spin.
Now back to the Courant taking down the offending post. First, aren’t journalists always complaining when public officials try to expunge the record? Newspapers should never be in the position of doing that. As Colin said, The Courant should have kept the post up and used it to start a discussion about race and education reform. Second, Bob posted a very terse apology (“I’m sorry. I regret writing the post.”) and later the Courant said it had “disciplined” him. No explanation.
Again, journalists always complain when they see officials hide information that could be made public. So how about a little openness from a public institutions like The Courant? Did they give Bob a letter of reprimand? Did they suspend him? If so, with or without pay? How is this different from East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo, whom the Courant branded “an idiot” in an editorial calling for his resignation?
You see, this is why most people hold the media in such low esteem. They have one standard for themselves and another standard for everyone else.
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