Salon attempts to discuss the Chicago schools!


We liberals don’t care about black kids: Yesterday, Salon attempted to discuss Chicago’s public schools. In a rational world, the bungling would be a scandal.

The piece was written by Natasha Lennard, "an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing." We were struck by one key word in the headline:
Mass protests hit Chicago over school closures

The Chicago Teachers Union is rallying support against closures that will disproportionately affect black, Latino kids
We were struck by that one key word: “disproportionately.” When we checked to see how bad the disproportion might be, we were gobsmacked by Lennard’s copy:
LENNARD (3/27/13): On Wednesday Chicago will see a mass rally, led by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), to protest the planned shuttering of 54 elementary and middle schools before the next school year. Critics of the closures have pointed out that the vast majority of schools targeted (50 are on the West and South Sides of Chicago) provide for black and Latino children. While only around 40 percent of children in Chicago are black are [sic] Latino, 90 percent of children whose schools will be shuttered are black or Latino.
Eighteen hours later, that typo stands uncorrected. That said, let’s try to understand what Lennard and Salon seem to have said.

Chicago is closing a bunch of schools, as we noted last Friday. According to Lennard, “90 percent of children whose schools will be shuttered are black or Latino.”

If true, that’s hardly surprising. According to the Chicago Public Schools, this was the composition of its student population just last year:
Chicago Public Schools, student population, 2011-2012
Black students: 41.6 percent
Hispanic students: 44.1 percent
White students: 8.8 percent
According to the official data, Chicago’s student population is 86 percent black or Hispanic. But so what?

At Salon, Lennard seemed to say that the student population was 40 percent black or Hispanic. Plainly, she was concerned because 90 percent of affected students would be black or Hispanic.

Granted, it’s hard to know what Lennard meant because of the typo which stands uncorrected. But if 90 percent of affected students are black or Hispanic, that is right in line with the overall student population.

Meanwhile, Lennard seemed to think that the student population was only 40 percent black or Hispanic. What kind of contemporary journalist could believe something like that?

Two answers:

One, a journalist who doesn’t know—or care—about children in urban schools. Two, a journalist from the New York Times!

(On March 15, Katharine Seelye authored a very similar groaner while writing about Boston’s schools. To review our report, just click here.)

If we lived in a dimly rational world, work of this type would be seen as a scandal. But we don’t live in that world.

Two points concerning Salon:

Lennard’s piece was posted yesterday afternoon, a bit before 5 PM Eastern. As of 11 this morning, it has generated eleven comments.

As we’ve often told you, we pseudo-liberals manifestly don’t care about urban schools or the kids who attend them. Try to remember this when you see Salon’s fiery readers conducting the endless flame wars in which they hunt down all the racists.

Second point: Salon has degenerated into an open joke. We’ll assume the site must be in financial trouble. But endlessly, it now pursues the dumbest possible readers with the most ridiculous possible work.

If you're concerned about farting in bed, please review Salon's recent work.

When Salon does try to cover the news, it churns out work of this type—work which makes no earthly sense. In fairness, the New York Times can match them howler for howler.

Who could have thought that Chicago’s public schools were 40 percent black or Hispanic? Answer:

Salon was able to think such a thing. Two weeks ago, the New York Times thought the same thing about Boston!


  1. "Lennard’s piece was posted yesterday afternoon, a bit before 5 PM Eastern. As of 11 this morning, it has generated eleven comments."

    If we lived in a dimly rational world, this would not be cited as credible evidence that "we liberals" don't care about black kids. This would be roundly mocked and laughed at.

  2. OK, OK, we're off your lawn. Can we have our ball back?

  3. Here's the answer:

    "Nine out of ten of the Chicago Public School students potentially affected by school closings this year are black, a Chicago Sun-Times analysis has found.

    "The racial breakdown of the schools that could be closed is not in line with the overall demographics of the district. Across the city, 41.7 percent of CPS students are African American, 8.8 percent are white and 44.1 percent are Hispanic."

    In Chicago, schools in predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods are bulging at the seems. Meanwhile, the city lost 180,000 (!) African Americans in the last decade, according to the 2010 Census; black neighborhoods are a shambles, deserted and foreclosed upon. Schools are the last remaining civic anchors in many of these communities, and closing them will just about finish them off. That's why charges of institutional racism are being made.

  4. That last comment was by me, not Anonymous.

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  6. unknown, thank for supplying those facts. It sounds like Chicago is closing predominantly black schools, because the drop in the number of students is predominantly in black neighborhoods. It may be unfortunate for the neighborhoods that lose their school, but it seems reasonable to consolidate schools where the number of students has gone down, rather than where the number of students has stayed the same or increased.

    BTW the reason Chicago needs to save money on schools is because of all the money they spend in other areas, such as employee pay and benefits. Lberals traditionally have supported all government programs. But, the money is limited. Today, supporting one type of government spending automatically means opposing another type. Liberals need to prioritize their preferences.

  7. Quaker in a BasementMarch 28, 2013 at 6:13 PM

    Lberals traditionally have supported all government programs.


    1. How about this one?

      "But, the money is limited. Today, supporting one type of government spending automatically means opposing another type."

      Yep. Not too much money out there. Get yours while you can, and screw everybody else.

      And of course, billions upon billions of tax breaks to the wealthiest of the wealthy, and to corproations isn't "government spending."

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  9. David in Cal: Chicago has closed more than 100 schools in the last decade and the results have been neither $ savings or increased student performance. National studies show the same. Closing schools in poor neighborhoods is not the answer, and in fact, leaves those neighborhoods bereft. Additionally, the district is opening charter schools and Rahm's pals are getting the patronage dough. In some cases, charters are opening within blocks of schools that are being closed. Also, the deficit cited by CPS is highly suspect. Every year CPS puts out what we here in Chicago call the Press Release Budget warning that the end is near (for the CTA, it's the Doomsday Budget), and every year CPS ends up with surpluses of hundreds of millions of dollars. Also, TIF districts have siphoned off billions from the schools, which have then been transferred to wealthy developers and corporations. Finally, this is a conservative policy that Rahm is pursuing, not a liberal one.

    1. Finally, to the heart of the matter.

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