If the Times’ editorial board hadn't been so hellbent on giving a black eye to Davenport Schools on Sunday, they might have brought light to a complex issue affecting the community. Instead, readers received a rant based on poorly understood and misleadingly presented statistics, which is all the more unfortunate due to the very real problems facing Davenport’s students, parents and teachers.
The editor's primary argument is a refusal to believe that Davenport students are three times more likely to "pick a fight" than Des Moines students. According to the same Department of Education data set that generated the editorial, Des Moines suspended 1,333 students in 2016-2017 for various forms of physical aggression and fighting. That’s about four violence-related suspensions for every 100 students. In the same year, Davenport suspended 1,844 students in the same categories, or about 12 suspensions per 100 students. As almost any second grader in Davenport could tell you, 12 is three times greater than four. The editors could have discovered this publicly available data had they wanted to.
Des Moines Schools should rightfully be lauded for their successes. While Davenport Schools may deserve fair criticism, that criticism should be rooted in reality, like the fact that Des Moines has received considerably more funding per student over the last four decades. Sunday’s editorial managed to do nothing more than obscure the truth about an issue vital to our community, all while delivering a gut-punch to a district that is already low on morale. We expect better.
Editor's note: Schiltz is a teacher with Davenport Community School District.