Political leanings and lenses aside, sometimes data can create a picture so vivid that it is really hard to argue against the conclusions.
Last week, the state of North Carolina released its school performance grades for the 2015-2016 school year. With pretty much the same parameters kept in place, the results really did nothing but reconfirm that the majority of schools which receive low or failing grades are usually schools with high poverty rates in their respective student bodies.
But there’s another correlation in the data that needs to be made note of – how it aligns to the gerrymandered districts recently struck down by the court system.
If you have not visited EdNC.org, then take the time to do so. They have been kind to post some of my op-eds and they do try and show / represent all sides of the educational debate. And there are many viewpoints passionately defended.
They also have a feature that is invaluable. It’s the Data Dashboard. You can find it here – https://www.ednc.org/data/. Take the time to peruse this resource if public education is a top issue for you.
Here is a dot map of the 2014-2015 school performance grade map for the state (https://www.ednc.org/2015/08/03/consider-it-mapped-and-school-grades/) .
Take notice of the pink and burgundy dots. Those are schools in the “D” and “F” category.
Now look at a map from the dashboard for Free and Reduced lunch eligibility for the same year.
If you could somehow superimpose those two images, you might some frighteningly congruent correlations.
Now look at a map that shows the percentage of African-American students in each county’s population. It is also from the EdNC.org dashboard.
If I could superimpose all three maps then I could show readers how confident I am that the correlation between the population of African-Americans, poverty, and school performance grades is incredibly strong.
And there is a reason that I have not included other minority groups. That’s because when the Voter ID law was recently repealed by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and the subsequent appeal to that decision by the governor was dismissed by the Supreme Court, the courts specifically pointed to the “surgical precision” that the law targeted African-Americans and poorer people.
And here is a map of our current congressional districts, two of which were considered to be “gerrymandered” districts by federal courts, specifically districts 1 and 12. Images come from The News & Observer report from Feb 6, 2016 entitled “Federal court ruling corrects gerrymandered NC districts” (http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article58911173.html).
See any correlation to the maps above with the data that appears in the maps concerning school performance grades, numbers of free and reduced eligible students, and percentages of African-American students? I do.
Wow! Do I ever.