Baltimore

(On the MARC commuter train) I just spent the day in Baltimore, first with a community-based youth group (Students Sharing Coalition), and then at a public high school, City College High. Baltimore is the next city up the east coast and the major metropolis in the State of Maryland, which employs me at our flagship public university. Thus I have reason to be interested in, and to care about, Baltimore–and I do. However, the University of Maryland is deep inside the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, and my family and I are residents and citizens of the District of Columbia itself. Thus I don’t know Baltimore particularly well. I do feel moved, after a day in the city, to note that it is a complex and varied place. The Wire, while an excellent piece of realistic fiction, hardly describes all aspects of a city rich in stately architecture and full of civic institutions. It turns out that many kids who attend City College High School live in the specific neighborhood where The Wire is filmed; some have acted on the show; and Ed Burns is an alumnus. Yet The Wire depicts a community in which no one is on a path to academic success, whereas City College High School is evidently a fine and successful institution. Just an hour or so in the hallways and classrooms told me that it’s a school with high expectations, good order, and positive energy. This is not to say that The Wire is false–only that reality is complicated.

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