Wandering Eye: The disparities in rich and poor school districts, following up with people shamed online, and more

Krist Boardman is a prison nurse, true-crime writer, and aspiring politician from Harford County. When City Paper last caught up with him a year ago, he had under his belt a number of titles, including "Crimes of Passion," "Kinky Killers," and "Cold Cases–Solved!" But his Cold War mystery novel, written in the 1970s and entitled "The Magadan Mission," had yet to be published. Now it's been put out by Frederick-based America Star Books—an outfit with an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau, but hey, his novel's printed. The flowery fact-packed prose of his true crime is, in "Mission," replaced with the likes of this, on how his protagonist chose which London club to enter: "From four corners the music drifted, like faint sirens, each strain with its own message, of contrived sentimentality, of cacophonous punk rock, of energizing harmonies." Spoiler alert: He chose the jazz club. (Van Smith)

 

NPR has a piece (produced by the nonprofit The Hechinger Report) that echoes "The Long Shadow," the important, three-decade Johns Hopkins study of racial and class disparities released last year. In "Rich School, Poor School," the radio reporters examine the differing prospects of students in the wealthiest Detroit suburbs and the suffering city itself and find that "students in poor urban and rural school districts can expect little or no college advising, an especially big problem given that many of them are low-income, racial minorities who would be the first in their families to go to college—meaning they need the most help with the application process." Unsurprisingly, "Your ZIP code can really determine what your future will look like," said Kim Cook, executive director of the National College Access Network. As is the fashion these days, NPR describes these disparities in terms of national economic competitiveness and takes for granted the idea that if more people graduated from college, poverty would abate. That three decades of increasing college graduation rates have coincided with falling real wages and steady poverty is perhaps fodder for a future report. (Edward Ericson Jr.)

 

Remember Justine Sacco? Maybe you do. She was the woman who in December 2013 tweeted "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" to her 170 followers. That's not someone with a lot of social media reach, but Sacco's tweet quickly went viral, with thousands of Twitter users going on a witch hunt as Sacco, the senior director of corporate communications at IAC, remained in the air, completely unaware of the controversy she'd stirred up. When she landed in South Africa, her phone blew up with texts. Not long after, she was fired from her job. Now, Jon Ronson has a long feature in the New York Times Magazine about people like Sacco who have been shamed online by complete strangers. According to Ronson, these people were "were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow — deeply confused and traumatized." But mostly the story focuses on Sacco. One of the people stoking the flames was Gawker writer Sam Biddle, who told Ronson in January 2014 that "I never wake up and hope I [get someone fired] that day — and certainly never hope to ruin anyone's life" without fully understanding the gravity of what he did, saying everything will be "fine eventually, if not already." Biddle eventually had a change of heart, writing his own apology post last December. (Brandon Weigel)

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