A tale of not two, but three maps

My curiosity piqued a few days ago when I saw this image of two juxtaposed maps over on Folkbum’s blog:

What you’re looking at (please correct me if I’m wrong, Jay) on the left is a map of “[Milwaukee] schools with high numbers of poor students [who] perform poorly on tests of academic achievement.” Note the heavy concentrations on either side of Menominee Valley and I-94. The “central city,” to use a less verbose moniker. (Yeah.)

According to the good Folkbum, the red dots on the right side “indicate schools where 50% or more of the students enrolled qualify for free or reduced lunch (FRL).” It’s  been proven time and time again that there’s a direct link between poverty and low educational performance.

Now, if you will excuse my not-madd grafix skillz, I have added a third map, that of the recent Victory Garden Blitz.

The cyan and green markers are from the 2009 Blitz, and the purple markers are from the recent 2010 Blitz. You can make out a rough correspondence between the second and third maps the most easily. (I apologize as it’s kind of hard to see details.) A very large portion of the work on Blitz Day happened at sites with kids who attend Bradley Tech High School, a famously “troubled” Milwaukee school full of “troubled” Milwaukee students. I would wager that there’s also a correspondence between Bradley Tech families, the state of poverty they live in, and the kids’ performance. It’s also probably no stretch to think that the areas in question are what we refer to as “food deserts,” areas where junk food and booze is readily available, but good, nutritious food is not.

For the south side, there’s less of a direct comparison between the left two and right-most maps. We had just three south side Bradley Tech sites, versus fifteen on the broader north side. But looking at the addresses—15th Place, 1322 S. 11th Street, and 7th Street—they generally correspond to a small area of the middle-left maps.

it strikes me that we probably had a very small impact on the overall problems facing the poor in Milwaukee. But you have to start somewhere. Now, almost two dozen families have access to healthy food that they may not have before. It all adds up, ya?

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Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

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