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Robert Niles

Robert Niles: April 2012 archive

April 12, 2012

Killing the zombie lie

Some lies are like zombies - not matter what you try to do to kill them, they just keep coming back, feeding on people's brains.

Consider what Ron Kaye wrote in the LA Times' Pasadena Sun this week, in reference to the Pasadena police killing an unarmed black teenager.

"For so long, Pasadena, like much of America, has been a tale of two cities — one white, one black, and now, with a third of the population Latino, a tale of three cities," Kaye wrote.

Okay, no problem there. Fellow PUSD parent Peter Dreier has written eloquently about this issue before. But let's take a look at Kaye's next paragraph:

"Pasadena, for all its affluence and hipness, the beauty of its neighborhoods, the resurrection of Old Pasadena, the high quality of life enjoyed by so many, has never fully faced the ugly truth about how nearly a fifth of its population lives in poverty, how an astonishing third of the school-age children are in private schools because of the failure of its public schools, how the disparity in wealth and circumstance is like a cancer eating away at the life of the city."

Ugh. Not the zombie lie again: the claim - presented without any evidence to support it - that Pasadena's public schools are a "failure."

First, I would love for someone to find the recent data that documents that one third of Pasadena's children are enrolled in private schools. I've not been able to find it, yet I keep hearing people repeat it as fact. Second, as I have documented before, Pasadena's public schools are not failing.

Let's start by considering the children from that "third" from which Kaye, Dreier and I write, that of white Pasadenans who are fortunate enough not to live in poverty. Despite what the zombie lie might lead you to believe, some kids from that population do attend Pasadena's public schools, including my children. And they thrive, as least as far as can be measured by state testing data.
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