Saturday, November 26, 2005
Is Lanham, Md., urban?
Of many challenges in a low-achieving school, sometimes getting students to class is the hardest. Anderson learned that again this month, when six students were arrested after a school bus fight morphed into a melee. Police used pepper spray and a stun gun in an incident that spun strangely out of control.
Anderson has one of the toughest jobs in education: leader of an urban public high school with nowhere to go but up. High teacher turnover, low test scores, transient students, a reputation -- perhaps overblown -- as a "tough" school, racial achievement gaps, a working-class parent population that can be hard to reach. It's a litany familiar to many principals across the country.
Now why would they call it urban? It's not located in the District, indeed, Prince George's County, Md., is most certainly a suburb of Washington, DC. But here's the rub. PG County has a lot of 'minorities' in it. So, if you live in a community of detached, single-family homes, but you happen to live around a number of black people, you are necessarily "urban." Otherwise, you live in the pleasant "suburbs" of, say, Fairfax or Montgomery counties.
Admittedly, this is picking nits, but I think it speaks to a greater point about assumptions, identity, and race. I'd expect better from The Post.