On Tuesday, as she was boarding a bus after school, a 17-year-old Pearl-Cohn senior was wounded in a gang-related altercation. The injured student was an innocent bystander; the person who shot her in the arm — who reportedly told Metro police he fired at her bus trying to hit someone else, a student he considered a gang rival — didn't even attend the school. Nor did his two alleged accomplices, one of whom was booked with him on aggravated assault charges.
The Tennessean lede the day of the shooting read, "At a time when it is trying to attract more white students to campus, Pearl-Cohn High School is dealing with the aftermath of a gang-related shooting." But it's not "trying to attract more white students" that should stand as the big problem here, any more than "the aftermath of a gang-related shooting" should reflect upon the students at the 91-percent-black school trying to improve it. A student could have been murdered doing nothing more dangerous than going home from school.
It's not just white parents who want their children to attend schools free of gang violence and gunplay — and it's not just primarily black schools where those problems are a threat. Pearl-Cohn, by all accounts, is working to improve its test scores and scholastic profile, and its students deserve every chance to succeed, starting with basic safety. The concern shouldn't be whether enough whites are enrolled, and whether the school's reputation is cushy enough to entice them. It should be whether the students attending Pearl-Cohn and trying to make a difference are getting the support they need — which sadly, on the way home from school, may include protection.