MEDIA WATCH: New York Times propaganda again spews out of 'Chicago News Cooperative' like sludge into the Gulf of Mexico

The New York Times continued its shoddy approach to Chicago reporting on June 18, 2010, when, three days after the special meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, it reported on the June 15, 2010, Board meeting and offered opinion on lots of things — all from the teacher bashing and union busting perspective that has characterized the Times Chicago coverage since it contracted with an outfit called the “Chicago News Cooperative” to get Chicago stories.

James Warren's anti-union teacher bashing attack on Chicago public school teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union appeared in the June 18, 2010 edition of The New York Times (above). Among other unique facts the Times reported was that, according to Warren, New York City teachers work "seven weeks" longer than Chicago teachers each school year.On June 18, 2010, The New York Times ran at story entitled “A View From Both Ends of the Educational Spectrum” by James Warren, one of the big shots of the “News Cooperative.” The story purported to be a report and analysis of the June 15 Board meeting.

Actually, it was just another teacher bashing hatchet job, the kind for which the “News Cooperative” reporters are becoming locally famous here. Several months ago, we reminded readers that the “News Cooperative” directors includes the infamous Martin (“Mike”) Koldyke, who has functioned for nearly two decades as Chicago’s version of Alan Greenspan, a free market fundamentalist who wants to privatize everything in public education. As early as the early 1990s, when he was chairman of the Chicago School Finance Authority, Koldyke paid Chester Finn, the famous right wing pundit, to be the “School Reform Consultant” for Chicago (at a price back then of about a quarter million dollars a year).

Warren’s version of what happened at the June 15 special meeting of the Chicago Board of Education began with the admission that he hadn’t been to a school board meeting in a long long time (if ever?). The editorializing and inaccuracies in Warren’s piece began almost as soon as his finger hit the keyboard.

“The board reaffirmed the existing teachers contract,” Warren wrote, “guaranteeing a generous 4 percent raise negotiated by the weak-kneed duo of Mayor Richard M. Daley and Arne Duncan, then the superintendent of Chicago Public Schools and now the United States Secretary of Education.”

Former Chicago Tribune reporter James Warren attended his first Chicago Board of Education meeting "in decades" on June 15, 2010, in order to write an attack on the Chicago Teachers Union that contained at least six major inaccuracies including the claim that New York City has a school year seven weeks longer than Chicago's. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Barely a beat after bashing Duncan and Daley for a contract they OK’d in 2007 (long before the financial prompted that prompted the June 2010 Board meeting), Warren took a loving look at the current Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman. According to Warren, Huberman is a “strong and hard-pressed manager…” [Noted: Both Duncan and Huberman had the title “Chief Executive Officers” — CPS hasn’t had a “superintendent” since 1995, no matter what The New York Times thinks].

Warren then went into what amounted to 14 paragraphs of propaganda. Teacher bashing. Union bashing. Condescending.

Warren even seems to think that some of Chicago’s most affluent elementary schools (like Ravenswood, attended by his child) are “high poverty.”

Even for the low standards of The Times’s coverage of Chicago, Warren’s piece reached new lows. Take the following:

“A few other matters didn’t get acknowledged: productivity, efficiency, and quality. Forget about even alluding to the outrageously short school year in Chicago, which is seven weeks shorter than New York City’s, and a week less than the rest of the state’s…” [Warren, who later reported in the same story on the graduation of his daughter from kindergarten on June 16, must have really had trouble with math. Public schools in Chicago began this year the day after Labor Day and ended, as Warren the parent must know, on June 18. If, as Warren the reporter claims, New York public schools are in session seven weeks longer than Chicago’s — the reasonable inverse of Warren’s snide inaccurate aside — then New York City teachers will be teaching until the first or second week of August, then beginning their new school year less than four weeks later!]

There is more in the Warren fairy tale version of Chicago reality than is worth taking the time for here. Since its inception less than a year ago, the pretentious Chicago News Cooperative has specialized in these news and commentary versions of Chicago reality that ape the corporate party line (“…productivity, efficiency, and quality…”), praise corporate school reform (the person quoted most favorably in Warren’s piece is Norman Bobins, the millionaire banker who has steered corporate school reform for Chicago and Illinois since Mayor Daley appointed him to the Board of Education shortly after mayoral control began), and play “Good teacher/bad teacher” (praising his own kid’s great pre-school and kindergarten teachers and poising something about them — without asking them — against the rest of their colleagues across the city…).

Long ago, we warned our colleagues in the research community against quoting The New York Times as if its news columns reflected accurately anything about reality. This latest is just another example of that pattern of corruption, and arrogance. 


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