Littleton media blitz forgets other students

The tragedy in Littleton, Colo., illustrates the media’s bias toward reporting one-time freak incidents that occur to middle-class children in suburbia over endemic continual tragedies that happen to lower-class kids living in the inner city.
There is no denying what occurred in Littleton was horrible. The students who died, their friends and families have all endured sorrow that no one should have to suffer. That suffering, though, is something that occurs with great frequency in other parts of the country, but is usually ignored by the media.
For instance, in 1996-97, 10 percent of our nation’s schools reported violent crimes. Most of these were concentrated in urban districts. While killings at Columbine High School and other suburban schools were reported extensively, thousands of other crimes went widely underreported to the general public.
In addition to rampant violence in lower-income districts, millions of kids go every day to decrepit schools with horrible facilities and incredibly high student-teacher ratios because of a lack of available money. In New York City, a large percentage of schools still operate on coal burning boilers that were built before World War II. Even after five years of remodeling, the Queens area will still be short of space for 21,600 students. In Washington, D.C., thousands of middle schools students are trying to learn science in classrooms without running water or gas for Bunsen burners.
In our incredibly wealthy country, about 25 percent of students live in families lacking the income to afford educational necessities like notebooks and pens. It is not their fault they were born into poverty, but every day they suffer the consequences.
A few days after the Littleton tragedy, President Clinton announced he would make $1.5 million in federal emergency aid available to the victims’ families for funeral and medical expenses, psychological counseling and lost wages. While there are probably a few families that will need this money, Littleton is a very wealthy community. These are not families that will become destitute by paying for a funeral. This money would be better spent funding educational projects in areas experiencing rampant problems as opposed to a one-time event.
The media reveled in reporting that many kids called their parents on cellular phones during the shootings, but never mentioned the schools that have three telephones for the entire staff and student population. That so many students had cellular phones indicates that Littleton is not a community with serious financial problems.
In a nation filled with wealth, we need to remember our poorer children. There are students who deal daily with violence. There are students who go to school every day knowing when they get there, they might have to sit on the floor because there is not room for one more desk. There are students who try to learn history from textbooks printed before the Vietnam War ended. These students also need to be recognized by the media. Their tragedies might not be as startling, but they will also be irrevocably altered by their school environments. Littleton was horrible, but so is the way millions of our nations students are ignored. Somehow, the media has forgotten the tragedies occurring everyday around the country.