Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chicago schools closing, to the dismay of many,0,1198442.story

The Chicago Board of Education is pressing on with its plans to "close, consolidate or revamp" 16 of its district's schools... and it's really, really pissing off a lot of people.

The article does a good job capturing the emotional temperature of those affected by the closings. The details bring to life the anger this decision has created, describing protesters camping outside of the meeting, complete with coffins to illustrate their point. The tears of a mother illustrate dismay and disappointment so much more effectively than a mere phrase describing the protesters as dismayed and disappointed.

The article outlines the reasoning behind the closing- schools operating at low capacity and a need for more funding. However, when I finished the article I was left thirsty for more information.

For instance- which schools are closing? The only school mentioned by name is Carpenter Elementary School. What about the other 15? I'm pretty sure the paper's Chicago readership would like to know, too.

Also, the article mentions that 12 of the schools made it on the list because of low enrollment and four because they are "academically failing". It'd be nice to have some figures to back those claims up.

I'm also confused about the six schools the article says were "removed", presumably from the list to be closed/consolidated. This statement falls right underneath the information about why the 12 under-enrolled and the four academically struggling schools made the list, making me think that six schools were struck from that list of 16. But no, there are 16 schools slated for these changes, according to the lede... does that mean the list of schools was originally 22? (1) Yes, but that's not immediately apparent here.

Overall, the article does a nice job showing the impact this is having on the community, but lacks in explanation or context for readers who may not be familiar with the situation already. Carlos Sadovi, the reporter, has been covering the process and has looked at both the proceedings and the impact (2)- he is obviously comfortable with and knowledgeable about the subject, but there are a few moments when he seems to forget we might not be.