GOOD

What If the Notorious B.I.G. Hadn't Dropped Out of High School?

Rapper Christoper Wallace was murdered 14 years ago today. He dropped out of school in 1989, and his Brooklyn high school is still a dropout factory.


The name "Christopher Wallace" has been in Twitter's top ten trending topics today. That's because it's the 14th anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G.'s unsolved 1997 murder. His superior lyrics and flow still garner him a top spot on virtually every "Greatest Rappers of All Time" list. But, despite his talent with words, the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, native was a high school dropout.

Wallace didn't drop out because he wasn't smart. In fact, he was known throughout his middle school years at the Roman Catholic Queen of All Saints Middle School as a high-achieving, excellent student. No surprise, he was a stand-out in English class and even won several awards. He initially attended a parochial school, Bishop Loughlin Memorial, for high school but later switched to the public George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High. At Westinghouse, Wallace was chronically truant and, in 1989 at the age of 17, he left school to sell drugs.


At the time that Wallace attended Westinghouse, it would have qualified as what the film Waiting for Superman would call a "dropout factory." The class of 2009's graduation rate was only 63 percent. And that's twice what it was in the early 2000's. In the late 1980s when Wallace was a student there, there was no national conversation about teacher accountability or education reform, especially not at schools predominantly attended by low-income children of color like Wallace. I couldn't find a reliable number, but I'm fairly certain the graduation rate was even worse when he was a student.

It's not hard to wonder if the school did everything it could to ensure that Wallace didn't drop out. Were there teachers who attempted to intervene, or did they simply see him as another statistic and give up on him? And, sadly, even if teachers did do their best to keep Wallace on the right path, the reality then and now is that schools are not isolated from their communities and teachers can only do so much. During the late 1980s New York City was ravaged by the crack epidemic, and Wallace's Bed-Stuy neighborhood was no exception. He began selling drugs at the age of 12, well before he set a foot in either Bishop Loughlin or Westinghouse.

We can only imagine what kind of life Wallace would have had if he hadn't dropped out, become a drug dealer, been locked up and then become a rap star who ended up caught up in the now ridiculous East-versus-West rap beef that violently ended his life at the age of 24. If he'd stayed in school and gone on to college, sure, maybe Wallace wouldn't be on those "Greatest Rappers" lists. But his mother might still have her son, and his children would still have their father.

Articles

Four black women, Engineers Christine Darden and Mary Jackson, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and computer programmer Dorothy Vaughn, worked as "human computers" at NASA during the Space Race, making space travel possible through their complex calculations. Jackson, Johnson, and Vaughn all played a vital role in helping John Glenn become the first American to orbit the Earth.

They worked behind the scenes, but now they're getting the credit they deserve as their accomplishments are brought to the forefront. Their amazing stories were detailed in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly, which was later turned into a movie. (Darden was not featured in the movie, but was in the book). Johnson has a building at NASA named after her, and a street in front of NASA's Washington D.C. headquarters was renamed "Hidden Figures Way."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News
Courtesy of John S. Hutton, MD

A report from Common Sense Media found the average child between the ages of 0 and 8 has 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time a day, and 35% of their screen time is on a mobile device. A new study conducted by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital published in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, found exactly what all that screen time is doing to your kid, or more specifically, your kid's developing brain. It turns out, more screen time contributes to slower brain development.

First, researchers gave the kids a test to determine how much and what kind of screen time they were getting. Were they watching fighting or educational content? Were they using it alone or with parents? Then, researchers examined the brains of children aged 3 to 5 year olds by using MRI scans. Forty seven brain-healthy children who hadn't started kindergarten yet were used for the study.

They found that kids who had more than one hour of screen time a day without parental supervision had lower levels of development in their brain's white matter, which is important when it comes to developing cognitive skills, language, and literacy.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via KTVU / YouTube

The 63-year-old Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, currently branded the RingCentral Coliseum, is one of the most decrepit sports venues in America.

The home to the the NFL's Oakland Raiders (until they move to Las Vegas next season) and MLB's A's, is notoriously known as the Black Hole and has made headlines for its frequent flooding and sewage issues.

One of the stadium's few positive aspects is its connection to public transportation.

Keep Reading Show less
Hero Video
via Anadirc / Flickr

We spend roughly one-third of our life asleep, another third at work and the final third trying our best to have a little fun.

But is that the correct balance? Should we spend as much time at the office as we do with our friends and family? One of the greatest regrets people have on their deathbeds is that they spent too much of their time instead of enjoying quality time with friends and family.

Lawmakers in the United Kingdom have made a significant pledge to reevaluate the work-life balance in their country.

Keep Reading Show less
Lifestyle