Saturday, December 15, 2018

This story about Paradise (California) High School's Class of 2019 resonates eerily with my last post

Dan Levin reports today in the New York Times under the headline, "After Wildfire, Class of 2019 Faces Uncertain Future."  As a law student and I suggested in posts a few weeks ago on Working Class Whites and the Law (here and here), Paradise, California, the small city destroyed in the so-called Camp Fire in November, was very much a working class town, and its population was predominantly white.  Here's a data point from Levin's story that reinforces the point:  
  • 67 percent of Paradise High School students qualify for free or reduced lunch
The story features many profiles of Paradise High students.  One profile in particular reminds me of my Legal Ruralism post from a few days ago regarding the struggles of rural students in the higher education context:   
[Elie] Wyllie, 17, grew up in Paradise “way below the poverty line,” she said. Problems at home motivated her to get stellar grades. Her zeal for perfection made her Paradise High’s top tennis player and earned her the nickname The Comeback. She dreamed of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon, believing that college was the sole path to changing her family’s fortunes.

She was in the midst of applying to a dozen colleges, including Yale, when the inferno reduced her home to ashes. While California state schools extended their application deadlines, she still does not have all the paperwork they require.
Levin quotes Wyllie:
Everything is crashing down.  Now I’ll be the only person in my family to have a future. They’re going to expect me to take care of them when I can barely take care of myself. 
Wyllie has moved in with her now-retired AP history teacher, the only way she could complete homework and her college applications. 

Here's another sobering quote from Ms. Wyllie: 
The Camp Fire tore up more than just my town; it took away my peace of mind.  Everything for the rest of my life is going to be affected by this.
Cross-posted to Working Class Whites and the Law.  

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