A month ago, superintendent Sean Doherty invited the Globe to speak in front of superintendents from several St. Louis area school districts. Pointing to the Globe as an example, Dr. Doherty reiterated the importance of extending learning beyond the classroom. Listening to Dr. Doherty’s words, I was reminded of some of the intangible qualities unique to a Clayton education as well as reassured that the work I do – both as a student and as editor of our school newspaper – has a greater purpose that doesn’t go unnoticed.
We, as students journalists, have a intrinsic responsibility to chase the truth and to shed light on it even if it is overshadowed by darkness. We, too, must learn, and, we must embrace the quest for learning the same way we do, as students, in the classroom.
Last issue, we published an in-depth story about educational equity. The story was the byproduct of a month-long investigation into the very concept of equity – its historical roots as well as its present-day manifestations. It was the culmination of conversations we had with several teachers searching for ways to make their classrooms more equitable places for learning as well as with administrators searching for ways to structure curricula and craft policy to make the district a more equitable one.
We made the decision to pull some data to accompany the written content in attempt to paint a broad picture about the disparities that exist in regard to the racial composition of advanced classes at CHS.
For good reason, the presentation of the data was not well-received by some members of the CHS community.
The way it was presented, it was seen to oversimplify the way in which students choose to take classes as well overlook some of the structural barriers that might account for some of the statistical disparity between white and African-American students’ participation in advanced classes.
At the core of the issue is the fact that the CHS history curriculum does not have an honors track.
By design, all CHS freshmen and sophomores take US/World History I and US/World History II, respectively. As these conversations ensued, we realized that we’d made an oversimplification by grouping the number of students that took both AP and honors classes. As a result, the data tells a different story than the one we learned about through talking with some members of the history department.
In this issue, we look to tell the whole story (see pages 12-13). The story is not simple. But it’s our job to tell it.
It revolves around a deliberate mission of the CHS history department which we we weren’t aware of during our initial coverage of the topic.
As the cliché goes, journalism truly is the first rough draft of history.
I gained a greater appreciation for the inherent difficulty of using data and numbers to tell complex stories. I was reminded of the great power vested in conversation. Our correspondence with the history department catalyzed important learning and staff-wide discussion that will surely inform the way we treat similar subjects in the future.
Taking a step back, it also made tangible how fortunate I am to be in a district whose teachers and administrators care so deeply about its students.
Our quest for learning is a collective one. There’s never been a more important time to chase the truth vigorously and ceaselessly – to be the bearers of light. But, to grow as an organization, and as people – and to hold others accountable, self-accountability is more than essential; it’s requisite.