Supplemental: The mayor has been closing schools!


And the New York Times knows where they are:
To state the obvious, so-called race is a major force in all aspects of American life.

This is one of the legacies we’ve all been left by our ancestors. That said, we liberals don’t always do a sensational job picking our way through the mess.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at some of the ways Patricia Arquette got slammed for her Oscar night remarks. Some of the criticisms dealt with the way she discussed race.

For today, consider the way the New York Times tends to talk about race. We were struck by the latest effort on today’s front page.

Monica Davey and Julie Bosman were talking about public school closings in Chicago. These closings have played a role in Rahm Emanuel’s political problems as he seeks a second term as mayor.

Davey and Bosman discussed the school closings. Under a Chicago dateline, this is the way they began:
DAVEY AND BOSMAN (3/4/15): The sky-blue paint has begun to peel on the three-story building that was once Anthony Overton Elementary. Window air-conditioners are speckled with rust. Doors where children used to rush in and out are sealed with plywood.

The empty shell of this school on Chicago’s largely black South Side stands as a reminder of one of Rahm Emanuel’s defining acts as mayor: overseeing the closing of nearly 50 public schools deemed underperforming, underutilized or both. It was the largest closing of schools in memory, with many of them in black or Latino neighborhoods.
“Many of [the schools which got closed were] in black or Latino neighborhoods?” That is a very strange, yet very familiar framework.

What makes this familiar framework so strange? Only this—the fact that Chicago’s student population is less than ten percent white.

Chicago’s public schools are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic. Its schools are full of beautiful kids from “black and Latino neighborhoods.” If the city is going to close some schools, it seems obvious that “many” of the schools in question will be in these very neighborhoods.

But there the familiar framework sat, on page one, in paragraph 2 of today’s report. You had to read to paragraph 22 before Davey and Bosman mentioned the demographics of Chicago’s schools.

Was it a good idea to close these schools? People can differ about that. The financial reasons for the closings are detailed in the report.

But again and again, reporters in papers like the Times adopt this peculiar framework in their reports about urban school closings. Apparently, we’re supposed to be surprised—perhaps shocked—by the fact that the sky is blue.

Or are we supposed to be racially angered? The New York Times is in love with race. It likes to fret and fawn about racial matters, often in ways which don’t make much sense. This helps make us, the New York Times readers, feel upright, concerned, meritorious.

Many of the schools in question were in black or Latino neighborhoods! This is the most obvious state of affairs in the world. Why did it drive this report?


  1. "To state the obvious, so-called race . . ."

    So-called race? Do I really need to read on?

    1. That's what the plutocrats from Ore-Ida tell us.

    2. Race is a social construct. If you don't understand what that means, you don't know much about race. It is hard have a conversation about race when people don't understand basic facts about it.

    3. Ah, but what is "so-called" race? A "so-called" social construct?

    4. Is that a question or a pseudo-question?

  2. The troll is at its angriest when Bob talks about liberals who play the race card.

    1. No, the troll is at its angriest when flinging hot potatoes at critics of Bob.

    2. Bob does the flinging. I document the fact that you won't touch them.

    3. The "race card" was a term invented to describe an appeal to white voters based on racism. It is generally invoked today only by people it was invented to describe.

    4. Having made the rounds already this AM sputtering about spuds, Mr. Perez seems to have deliberately avoided your comment @ 9:50PM.

  3. How many majority white schools are there in Chicago? Did it make financial sense to close the schools? I will be back tonight to review how many times the troll dared touch any of these two hot potatoes. Warming: He doesn't like getting burned.

    1. Public or private?

      If you're Rahm, or you hate teacher's unions, or you luuv for-profit education.

      Back to the oven, plebe.

    2. The two questions are answered with another question as Dodger deems the temperature in the potatoes too high.

      Dodger seems to have never thought of the financial aspects of the closures prior to this day as he said peep about it. I will be back later to further analyze the performance of the race card players.

    3. Tots. Hot tots. The tot man is here. Hot tots. Red tots.

    4. Dodge the tots. Tots are hot. Hot for trolls.

  4. Bob (oh, who am I kidding, he never reads comments, even though he cites comments on other sites in his posts): The schools were closed in predominantly black neighborhoods, almost all on the city's South and West Sides. Chicago schools in predominantly white neighborhoods were left alone - even though those schools are predominantly filled with students of color. The selective enrollment schools that are predominantly white were also left alone. So predominantly black neighborhoods were the ones losing community anchors. That's a big reason why Rahm is now in a runoff. (In other words, the demographic nature of neighborhoods is different than schools. By the logic you employ here, *all* of Chicago's public schools would be located on the South and West Sides. But they are not. They are dispersed throughout the city, including white neighborhoods.)

  5. That last comment was by me. I'm don't need to be anonymous - in fact, I'm against it.

  6. A. Perez: It did not make financial sense to close the schools. Study after study of city after city that closes schools en masse finds that money is not saved, and quite often money is lost. The closing costs are enormous; just as many students have to be served; the "welcoming" schools had to receive investments of all sorts; logistical nightmare. All documented in the press, despite what Rahm keeps saying.

  7. I dedicate this comment to A."Tater Tot" Perez.

    Bob Somerby wants us to answer questions about Chicago's schools?

    Or does Bob wants us to question how the New York Times frames closures in Chicago schools almost two years after the decision was made?

    Baltimore Bob and his New York news fixation may have missed it, but two years ago when the Chicago school closings were news to people actually living with the impact on their lives and the lives of the children, the plan was flat out called racist by the head of the Chicago teacher's union, Karen Lewis. And the reason she did, as local media noted, was that almost all of the schools proposed for closure were in black neighborhoods, not black AND Hispanic neighborhoods, and the vast majority of the students in the proposed schools were black.

    Chicago has the third largest school system in the country. It has been home to the largest teachers strike and school closure since the election of Rahm Emanuel. You know how many posts Bob devoted to these events and their coverage? One. You know what the main topic of that post was? That Joe Nocera of the New York Times didn't properly report on progress on the NAEP.

    By the way, do you know how many times Karen Lewis has been mentioned in the Howler? Karen Lewis, head of the "ratty" teacher's union, who called the closure plan "racist" and Rahm Emmanuel "the Murder Mayor"? Once as well. Because she was mentioned in a block quote Baltimore Bob cut and pasted from New York Nocera's column about the doings in the Windy City schools.

    How many posts did Baltimore Bob do on one article about one school in one town in Alabama named Tuscaloosa?

    Baltimore Bob. See anything in today's post that shows he cares about kids, other than calling them "beautiful"?

    1. Urban legend goes Anonymous to repeat the fact that most these kids are minorities, which we all knew. . No analysis of the financial aspects. The hot potatoes go untouched.

    2. Hot potato or hot turd?

    3. 11:20, Bob only cares about kids to the extent that he can use them as clubs in his rhetorical war against "liberals." Oh, excuse me. "Pseudo-liberals." Our Own Harvard Blogger has told us repeatedly that he is the One True Liberal.

    4. Mr. Perez's Tots have passed their "Use By" date and he is apparently insufficiently equipped to understand that.

    5. Anon 11:20 apparently does not understand that Karen Lewis cannot get into this blog, since she is not part of the media. If she was misquoted badly enough, then Bob might point that out. The question at hand is whether the NYT was acting in a journalistic manner when they described the closing of schools "many in them in black or Latino neighborhoods" without pointing out that the majority of schools *are* in black or Latino neighborhoods. Is it fair for the NYT to put their thumb on the scales in a new article?

  8. As I see it so-called race is a major force in all aspects of American life. We’re all that's left of our ancestors. That said, we liberals don’t always do a sensational job picking our way through the mess in large part because of the bogus claims and gorilla dust thrown up by journalists, professors and “experts” over here in our camp.

  9. This comment box is infested with seething trolls who, at this late morning hour, are twitching for some more good stuff on one of the Arquette sisters who have become the Howler equivalent of the Hiltons or Kardashians.

    Can we have some more, sir?

    1. Poor Somerby. He has been scooped on both E-mailghazi and the latest Clinton jihad by Media Matters and the leftist "Crooks and Liars!

      Just shows you how these mainstream Maoists in the blogosphere fail to appreciate the importance of gorilla dust spreading professors in our discourse over Oscar acceptance speeches.

  10. Links: Start with these and go from there. //

  11. What's the opposite of a euphemism? These kids are "underperforming" because they're being compared to elite, heavily white/ middle class magnet schools, and the Latino kids here are often from immigrant backgrounds. That unfair comparison is the excuse to push them into the private sector. It's the only set of statistics they have that aren't fraudulent! Chicago is under pressure by the investment bankers to privatize everything, and to do this they're selling this story that schools are broken. But at the same time, they can't lie to themselves and say there's no resistance. So they come up with this half-truth that the lower classes just can't afford a good education. Test, test, test until the drones are all good efficient worker bees.

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