Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sheila Simon's two worlds.

I was reading the Southern Illusion's editorial page yesterday and came across this "Cole has the support of the business sector" editorial. This should come as no surprise, Brad showed up with a plan and has really improved the business environment in Carbondale. He has done better than should have been possible in his first term. He has figured out what could be done and is doing it (note to the Southern at 150 boys at SIUC, this is how you do a plan). I like to think that it was impossible to do business in Carbondale before Brad and now it is just difficult.

What really surprised me was this quote from the article -
Simon attended Cole's speech Tuesday and was not one of the audience members leaping to her feet.

She was surprised the mayor talked about problems with gangs and truancy in his State of the City address.

"It's an illustration of our focus and the two worlds we live in," Simon said. "I have not heard anyone talk about gangs or truancy as a major problem in Carbondale. It's another undeserved, bad rap for the Carbondale school system. I will point that out, and other differences, as the campaign goes forward."
Sheila is now on the record saying that there is nothing wrong with School District 95 (that is Carbondale's K-8 grade school)? Here are my posts about District 95 from way back in July and August -
Post 1
Post 2
Post 3
Here is a link to get all the statistics, test scores and other numbers. Click around on the tabs at the top.

Turns out it doesn't matter what skin color you have, it just comes down to students from poor families do poorly at school in Carbondale and students who aren't poor do well. The test scores are terrible. We have seen a dramatic increase of private schools and home schoolers (in both numbers of schools an enrollment in existing schools), and a general drop in numbers of students in District 95. It isn't white flight, it is almost every educated and non-poor parent running the heck away from District 95 with their kids.

When you have populations of kids in high school that can't pass the standardized reading tests in 8th grade, you are heading for real problems. Over 50% of the kids the state calls poor, who attended District 95, failed the 8th grade reading test. Just a little research shows that black men who aren't functional literate have greater then 75% chance of serving time in jail. The kids who can't read cause almost all problems with violence and truancy. They don't publish the dropout rate that I can find, but it has to be way to high.

If I had to bet lunch on the "gang" part of Brad's plan being sound I would. It could be that the Mayor has talked to the Police Chief about this? Since the Mayor has made about 30 distinct calls like this in his State of the City speeches and been able to act in a positive way each time, I'm thinking he has done his homework this time as well.

I'm looking forward to hearing about Sheila's different world some more, I wonder what else she thinks. How about a published document Sheila?