The [Thursday] Papers
"Chicago Public Schools is expected to announce today the long-awaited list of schools it wants to close," Linda Lutton reports.
"WBEZ has independently confirmed published reports that the district will propose shutting down more than 50 elementary schools - 11 percent of all grammar schools it runs.
"In addition, WBEZ has learned that another handful of schools will see their staffs completely dismissed, in an effort to address low performance.
"If approved, this would be the largest single round of school closings ever undertaken in the country, and 3.5 times more school shake-ups than Chicago has tried before in a single year.
"Nearly all of the thousands of affected students are African American and attend schools on the South or West Sides, or near former public housing developments."
That pretty much sums it up.
On WGN-TV this morning, schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said that the issue is simply one of demographics. In other words, let's punish our most disinvested neighborhoods by disinvesting in them even more!
The demographic argument may seem logical, but it's actually quite deadly. This is what I posted on a Facebook thread this morning about it:
By that score, the closings look logical. But here's the problem, IMHO. The city should be asking itself why so many blacks left (not entirely hard to figure out) and how it can become a more attractive place to live for all socioeconomic and racial segments. Closing schools is not going to make those neighborhoods more attractive, but decidedly less. It's anti-development, if you will. Also, in some neighborhoods those schools are the last remaining civic anchors. Will more crime and disinvestment follow? Likely. Also, schools with smaller class sizes may be *just* what kids in the poorest neighborhoods need! Let's use it to everyone's advantage!
Another commenter quoted from a study that also questioned the demographic argument:
Chicago Public Schools claims that Chicago's population loss is the reason why schools are underutilized. CPS officials point to Chicago's population loss over the last decade (resulting in 144,035 fewer children living in Chicago from 2000 to 2010) as creating 139,000 empty seats in CPS. However, according to a WBEZ analysis of CPS's Racial/Ethnic Survey data, the school system only reported a loss of 31,500 students during this period.
In any case, if those were white students, the mayor would be building new schools to get them back.
Oh wait, he's not only building new schools for everyone else, he's turned it into a patronage project.
Trying that earlier line another way: Let's punish neighborhoods that have already been punished so badly that 200,000 residents have left by making them even worse!
From the Tribune's account:
"Rahm Emanuel, I've been a supporter of yours since day one, but you've done us wrong this time," said Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th. "He's forgetting about the people who helped put him in office.
"I don't think anything is a done deal in this city. I'm not going to let them do this to us, not again," she said. "Every time the whites get to screaming and hollering, they back off and steamroll over black and brown folks. Not this time."
"Ald. Willie Cochran, 20th, said he hasn't had any conversations with mayoral or CPS officials about school closings in several days. 'It is just unfortunate they don't show more respect for the alderman in any of the decisions that they make. There should have been briefings before it became public,' Cochran said.
"Cochran said Emanuel's administration has failed to listen to black aldermen who have been generally supportive. 'If you look at the city's investments in the communities, it speaks for itself,' he said."
True. But whose fault is that?
Durbin Is For Madigan
Giant Sucking Sound
How ironic: Privatization is anti-competitive and distorts market forces.
"The artificial deadline, the carefully leaked tidbits and the specter of relocation are out of the well-worn playbook used by sports owners to win a stadium deal. They also have helped paint Tunney as the bad guy standing in the way of a $500 million deal to rehab the stadium, build a hotel and create a plaza."
Who is doing the leaking? The Ricketts family? City Hall? Guess what: Some reporters know!
And who is doing the portraying? The media!
"With negotiations continuing ahead of an April 1 deadline declared by Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, the pressure has mounted as fast as the storylines being pushed: The Cubs are engaged in early talks with Rosemont and DuPage County about relocating. Tunney wants to move Wrigley's iconic scoreboard and put in a giant video screen."
Who is pushing the storylines? Who is buying the storylines?
The Sun-Times, for example, put the scoreboard story on its front page - a week after the Cubs had rejected the idea.
"[S]ources close to the negotiations let it be known that Tunney at one point in recent weeks discussed moving the iconic center field scoreboard to make way for a Jumbotron-like screen."
Name those sources!
I'm not advocating burning sources, I'm advocating not allowing "sources" to go off-the-record in the first place for the purpose of planting leaks that advance a political agenda but are at odds with the facts. The larger story, in this case, is who is doing the "leaking," not what the "leaks" are. They aren't even leaks, which connote some level of whistleblowing. They are unvetted political leverage points transmitted without accountability.
"[A] top City Hall source said the mayor played no role in the scoreboard leak."
I don't doubt it, though I'm a bit rankled that top City Hall sources will tell the (presumable) truth - off-the-record - only when convenient, and otherwise not. Reporters shouldn't allow a sliding standard of truthability.
But this much is true: The mayor doesn't give a shit about the scoreboard.
"Cubs spokesman Julian Green said Wednesday that the team's deadline is real and that the organization is not orchestrating attacks on Tunney."
So the reader is to believe that neither City Hall nor the Cubs are responsible for the leaks. Are we better off as citizens now?
Over at the Sun-Times, Fran Spielman pretends her paper hasn't played its usual role as patsy to perfection in an "analysis" that reports "The coup de gras came this week, in what Emanuel advisers consider a Cubs' ploy to smear Tunney by disclosing the alderman's 'dismissed' proposal to move Wrigley's iconic centerfield scoreboard to make way for a video scoreboard that would generate millions without blocking anybody's view."
So first the Cubs run to the Sun-Times to conduct a smear campaign against Tunney, then the Emanuel administration runs to the Sun-Times to conduct a smear campaign against the Cubs for running to the Sun-Times to conduct a smear campaign against Tunney. And then the Sun-Times writes up how each side is conducting a smear campaign in an "analysis" that fails to mention itself as the instrument of said smear campaigns.
Comment from Jerry Stemnock:
I had to check the Sun-Times itself to see if Spielman really wrote "coup de gras." It seems she did. Copy editors and proofreaders are always the first to be fired.
"Mayoral pal David Axelrod added fuel to the anti-Tunney fire by tweeting from spring training that, 'No team should be held hostage the way the Cubs have to rooftop owners and the ward pols they own.' Never mind that Axelrod's old firm has worked for the Cubs," Spielman writes.
Never mind that Spielman works for the Sun-Times.
"The Cubs' campaign left mayoral confidants fuming . . . 'They just accused the alderman of desecrating Wrigley Field, and Axelrod is out there saying Tunney is in the rooftops' pocket. Every time we make progress, the Cubs do something stupid to set us back,' said a mayoral confidant, who asked to remain anonymous."
"Ricketts' spokesman Dennis Culloton flatly denied that the Cubs were orchestrating a campaign to pressure Emanuel into taking sides."
So someone is lying. Only a few reporters know who, and they're keeping it to themselves.
Finally, back to the Tribune:
"The projects would generate $19 million a year in new city, county and state tax revenue, without taxpayer support, according to Ricketts family estimates."
Straight out of the "well-worn playbook!" C'mon!
Just because they say it doesn't mean you have to use it. History and experience tells us this number is less likely to be true than the Cubs winning the World Series this year.
"After this coming Labor Day, to much less fanfare, the third floor galleries, covering Modern European Art from 1900 to 1950, will be shutting down for over six months, as nearly 100 works, including 10 Picasso's and 10 Matisse's, are packed up and shipped to Fort Worth for the Kimbell Art Museum's exhibition The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters form the Art Institute of Chicago. Running through next February, it's billed as 'the largest loan of its kind from the Art Institute.'"
Click through to read Becker's fascinating analysis, in which he concludes:
"[N]o one can begrudge the Art Institute taking the time to 'fine tune' the Modern Wing. And yes, everything should be back in place by this time next year. Move on; nothing to see here - I get it.
"Still, I can't quite shake the nagging feeling that something's not quite right, that we should be expecting more from a $294 million building only four years old than having a huge chunk of it shut down for six months while the priceless treasures it was built to display are exiled out of view."
Specialty Crop News: The EverCrisp Apple!
The Beachwood Tip Line: Never soggy.
Posted on March 21, 2013
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