What the test stats don't tell us

Contrary to the “glowing” Lynchburg City Schools news release regarding the recently released SOL results, SchoolDigger has again released their annual statewide rankings of the state’s 132 divisions and individual schools.

Using a complex methodology, SchoolDigger looks at all grades and all subject matter, unlike LCS which chooses to cherry pick those that tend to show the division in a more favorable light.

According to SchoolDigger, LCS ranks 106th of 132 divisions and only one of 16 Lynchburg schools, Paul Munro, ranks in the top half of the state’s schools.

Of 1,102 state elementary schools, Lynchburg’s school rankings are as follows: Paul Munro, 216; T.C. Miller, 652; Sandusky, 660; Langhorne, 707; R.S. Payne, 727; Sheffield, 799; Bass, 820; Heritage, 861; Perrymont, 902; Bedford Hills, 934; and Dearington, 1,024.

Of 421 state middle schools, Lynchburg’s school rankings are as follows: Dunbar, 288; Sandusky, 383; and Linkhorne, 404.

Of 327 state high schools, Lynchburg’s school rankings are as follows: Heritage, 287; and E.C. Glass, 293.

I have no doubt the citizens will hear statistics about the children’s race and economic viability, per-pupil expenditures, pupil-teacher ratios and salaries as the reason for these poor results. But will they tell us that the most important factor for the children’s success is the child’s social environment at home; in particular does the child have two caring, nurturing and interested parents who are willing to accept the responsibility of raising their offspring and preparing them for productive lives?



We were all immigrants once

Recently, Ken Cuccinelli said the Statue of Liberty celebrates European immigration. When Emma Lazarus’ poem was written and Lady Liberty was erected, the largest immigrant groups were European: Irish in the 1850s and Italians in the 1880s. Both groups fled poverty at home hoping for a better life.

How were these arrivals treated? Irish and Italians were viewed by many Americans as uneducated, unskilled and prone to laziness and alcoholism. Employment discrimination meant many could not find work and were unable to “stand on their own two feet.” Because both groups were Catholic, many Protestants felt they would place loyalty to the pope over loyalty to the president and could never be real Americans.

The slur “wop,” aimed at Italians, is assumed by some to mean “without papers,” i.e., illegal immigrants. Because some Irish and Italians had large families, there was fear the governing white Protestant majority would become a minority if immigration continued.

These attitudes translated into actions. In 1854 in Belfast, Maine, an Irish Catholic church was vandalized and its priest beaten before a mob set it afire. In 1891, a mob in New Orleans lynched 11Italian Americans.

Over time, attitudes changed. In the 20th century, both groups distinguished themselves in fields including the arts, athletics, science and government.

The director of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Office, Ken Cuccinelli, is Italian American and and Vice President Mike Pence is Irish American. I hope both see how Lazarus’ poem addressed the “tired and poor” Irish and Italians of her day and the “world-wide welcome” she hoped would greet them in their new home.



Our homegrown talent

Lynchburg’s own “Elton John” came to town this past Saturday to thrill and delight us.

Danny Perdieu entertained his local followers with a solid performance of great songs and tales. I think the highlight of the entire show was when Central Virginia Community Choral Ensemble (CVCCE) came out to wrap the show in a beautiful bow. Their voices were strong and in perfect pitch. The kind of singing that makes the hair on your arm stand on end.

Danny met them four years ago, and they accompanied him then, so nothing would do but have them appear with his special performance for the Hill City. Every one was delighted and blessed to have a great performer remember his roots.



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