Locker : High School As Newspaper : ??

Adorable stock photo of high school lockers because no actual photos of kids using lockers could be located.Image Source/ZUMAPRESS

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The Washington Post reports that high school kids no longer use their lockers. Instead, they stuff everything into a bag and “navigate the halls bent over by jam-packed backpacks like Himalayan Sherpas shuffling along without a base camp.” So far, so good. Excellent old-guy snark. But then reporter Joe Heim talks to a high school principal who tries to explain why:

“The high school experience has evolved where learning is anytime, anyplace,” said Ann Bonitatibus, principal at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County, where most of the school’s individual lockers were removed during a renovation last year. “The more that our campuses are like that, the more inclined our students are to have their materials with them at all times and all places so that way they’re learning at lunch, at 20-minute break periods or between classes.

Ha ha ha. Sure they are. My only question is whether Bonitatibus really believes this, or was just trying to put one over on Heim.

The real answer, of course, is: who knows? Lockers became uncool for the usual mysterious teenage reasons—probably because it annoys their parents—and now you get laughed at for using one. So nobody uses them, and if you ask why, they invent some reason or other to fob off on the oldsters:

“My school is really big,” [Isabel Echavarria] said. “It has four floors and a basement, and stopping in one specific location between each class would be ridiculous. And it’s harder to keep track of your stuff if it’s in another location.”

Uh huh. At least everyone is even here. The kids have no idea why they do it and the adults have no idea why they do it. They just do.

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

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