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Cartoonist suspended for 'losers raise losers' comment

Longtime Hartford Courant cartoonist Bob Englehart, whose cartoonist I syndicate through Cagle Cartoons, has been suspended for a week without pay over a cartoon and blog post he filed criticizing Connecticut’s plans for inner city schools.

In a blog post accompanying the cartoon to the right, Englehart’s target was Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s school-reform drive, which he gave good marks overall, but questioned how much help any government can offer if parents aren’t doing a good job raising their kids.

“Inner-city poor and minority-filled schools aren’t going to change until we can somehow change the pervasive core of the problem: dysfunctional inner-city poor minority families,” Englehart wrote in a blog post. “Sure, we hear of an occasional winner come out of the ghetto. Movie stars, athletes, business people, we know their stories, but they are the very rare exception. For the most part, losers raise losers. Somehow we’ve got to get to these families and teach them how to respect education. Till then, nothing will change.”

It was the “losers raise losers” line that caught the eye of New Haven Mayor John DeStefano, who saw the blog post prior to it being removed by the Hartford Courant.

“I don’t think it was inner city schools, I think it was particularly kids of color, quite honestly, that he was focusing on, you know, let’s be honest about it, that’s what he was doing and again, I say that only in the sense of it sounded like to me like a not particularly well thought out remark,” said DeStefano.

Englehart issued an apology for the post. Many have come to his defense, including Courant columnist Colin McEnroe, who agrees with the sentiment of what Englehart wrote, just not his choice of words.

Bob Englehart

“Kids in Simsbury and Wilton are born on second base, and they spend their school years rounding third and barreling for home as their parents pace the sidelines with stopwatches,” McEnroe wrote. “So slapping on a bright coat of of the trendiest education reforms or pumping in a modest amount of extra money — while not terrible ideas — are not going to fix the problem. And suggesting, as Malloy seemed to do, that education could be considered separately from its context seems equally wrong. I mean there’s a reason why the 20 to 25 worst schools are all in cities.”

McEnroe also criticized the Courant for pulling down Englehart’s cartoon and blog post.

“Newspapers are all about the examined record. We scream loudly when somebody else tries to obliterate a record. We spend our careers chasing down stuff that somebody wanted to take back or wipe away.. Newspapers should never, never, never get into the business of squelching.”

Here’s a news report from WTNH News 8 about the incident: