MEDIA WATCH: How does The New York Times know 'news' when it smells it? When some rich guy starts a charter school and that charter school finishes its first week... At the Times, the lies begin in the 'news' columns and photo captions, as a two recent stories demonstrate...

According to The New York Times, Chicago teacher (and CORE leader) Sarah Chambers was talking about "teacher pay" at the first of three budget hearings conducted by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. But Chambers never mentioned teacher pay, and the New York Times has refused to correct the published error, which captioned the above photograph both in the September 9 print edition (national news off the front page) and on line. On Sunday, September 13, 2015, the biggest story about the beginning of the 2015 - 2016 school year in what is supposedly "America's Newspaper of Record" -- The New York Times -- was a page-and-a-half story about the planning and opening of a new charter school by some rich guy in Brooklyn. While a million children in New York began their school year, most in the city's real public schools, the main "news" was about a charter that is barely functioning.

But for The New York Times, the Sunday September 13 story was the second bit of nonsense in one week. Earlier in the week, the Times reported on the protests against Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. And in a front page story, the Times lied about the protests from Chicago teachers Sarah Chambers and her students at the first of three budget hearings presided over by the mayor. Chambers and her students were protesting cuts in special education (Chambers is a special education teacher). But if you read America's "Newspaper of Record", you learned the "fact" that Chambers was talking about teacher salaries.

And so, the Times's charter hype story came less than a week after the Times lied about a Chicago teacher in another "news" story. On September 9, 2015, the Times published a lengthy front page story about how Rahm Emanuel was facing problems in Chicago, despite the fact that he had won re-election in April. The story included a photograph of CORE co-chair Sarah Chambers speaking at one of Rahm's budget hearings.

But instead of reporting that Chambers was criticizing the mayor for massive cuts in special education, the Times decided that what she was really talking about was that teachers needed a "raise." Although that's not what Chambers said or what most teachers have been saying in Chicago since the August budget hearings, as usual "All The News That's Fit To Print" really means "All The News That Fits We Print."

Errors of fact in the Times are probably still more important than errors of fact in other media. Most professional publications, for example, allow scholars to cite Times reports without further fact checking. The attitude seems to be, if the Times has cleared the story, it must be "true."

But the first week of school shows that the Times coverage can be both biased and inaccurate. How anybody can confuse a small charter schools that has been talking a lot about what it's going to do is a kind of mystery that only Times editors can answer. With hundreds of schools that for better or worse can talk about the reality of what they have and have not been able to do (in some cases, for more than a century), for the Times to choose a school that barely exists (and in reality exists to this day mostly on paper and in the form of "vision" and promises (the stuff of every charter school and entrepreneurial fantasy) has to perplex even those of us who, like myself, read the Times every day (and have read it for more than 50 years).


Chicagos fiscal problems dog Rahm Emanuels second term as mayor, By Monica Davey, September 8, 2015 (on line). Front Page in the national print edition, September 9, 2015.

It was supposed to be a run-of-the-mill town hall meeting, standard fare for a city contemplating a new budget year.

But as Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago and his top deputies presided over a gathering last week in a majestic hall not far from Lake Michigan, the crowd grew testy. A group demanding that the city reopen a public high school, including some who had been on a hunger strike over the issue, began chanting Right now! Right now! and swarmed the stage.

Mr. Emanuel, looking startled, was hurried off by his security team and taken out of sight. With that, the meeting was over.

The mayor, a veteran of Democratic politics here and in Washington, was forced into a runoff this year as he sought re-election, in part because of critics who complained that he was too brusque and too focused on the needs of downtown interests over those of residents from some of Chicagos poorer neighborhoods. After an unexpectedly tense campaign, he won a second term in April, promising that he had heard the citys message.

As it turns out, winning re-election may have been the least of Mr. Emanuels problems.

Just months into his new term, Mr. Emanuel finds himself grappling with Chicagos fiscal problems, including a starkly underfinanced pension system and rising payment requirements. He is widely expected to seek a property tax increase this month when he proposes a budget for 2016. Chicagos public school leaders have agreed to a future spending plan that relies on hundreds of millions of dollars of hoped-for help from the state, even though state lawmakers have been locked for months in their own budget impasse.

Chicago, long troubled by guns and gang violence, has had a rise in murders compared with last year, when the city reported the fewest homicides in decades. Even pressure over neighborhood issues, like the fate of Walter H. Dyett High School, have at moments overshadowed Mr. Emanuels agenda.

This is about Dyett, but its also larger, said Prudence Browne, one of a dozen activists who said they stopped eating solid food on Aug. 17. Ms. Browne and others want answers from City Hall about the future of Dyett, a South Side school that was closed in June after graduating a class of just 13 students.

Its also about privatization and squeezing the poor, and its about quality neighborhood schools, Ms. Browne said. This is a big problem for him.

In the months since Mr. Emanuels re-election, he has chalked up some tangible victories. Chicago won a contest to host the Obama presidential library, which will be built on the South Side. The N.F.L. held its draft here, and the city announced that it had set a tourism record for the first half of the year. A minimum-wage increase, which Mr. Emanuel pressed for, took effect in July.

But challenges, especially the citys longstanding fiscal ones, loom. The problem weve had is for decades when it came to fiscal issues we didnt confront them, Mr. Emanuel said in an interview. So the way I look at it is we have some strengths. Were going to double down and really invest in those from our education to our transportation to our pro-business strategy. And we will not kick the can, but face up to the challenges and finally address them and fix them.

As for the abruptly ended meeting last week, Mr. Emanuel said he believed people could disagree without being disagreeable, but he did not seem troubled by what had happened. Ive been in politics my adult life, he said. Last week is part of the process, and I understand peoples passion.

On the lawn outside Dyett High School named for a music instructor who once taught Nat King Cole, Gene Ammons and others the 12 hunger strikers gather in folding chairs on most afternoons. Some last week said they were weak, and a few have required medical treatment.

Sveral years ago, school officials, citing low enrollment and a long record of poor performance, announced that Dyett would be closed by this year. But activists objected, saying that the Bronzeville neighborhood, a mostly black community, needed its school. Eventually, under pressure from the community, school officials agreed to consider new proposals. Among them was one for a Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School, supported by the activists now involved in the hunger strike.

The case of Dyett has highlighted broader questions as charter schools have expanded and public schools have closed. In 2013, the Chicago Board of Education, appointed by Mr. Emanuel, announced it would close nearly 50 schools a move that drew sharp criticism from some residents on the South and West Sides, who said their black and Hispanic neighborhoods had been affected disproportionately.

On Thursday, a day after Mr. Emanuel was ushered out of the town hall meeting, school officials announced that Dyett would reopen in a year as an arts-focused school. City officials framed the decision, which came earlier than some had anticipated, as a compromise that would allow the neighborhood to keep its school. The hunger strikers, though, said they were unsatisfied with the particulars of the new school plan, and they announced that their strike would continue.

Later on Thursday, Mr. Emanuel sat before another crowd for another meeting on another side of town. There, in an auditorium on the Northwest Side, less was said about Dyett. A barrage of new complaints came about the noise from airplanes landing at OHare International Airport, about cuts to special education and about the prospect of a coming tax increase.

A version of this article appears in print on September 9, 2015, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: After Runoff, Emanuel Keeps Facing Batttles.



September 14, 2015 at 8:59 AM

By: john kugler

CORE Consistency

Just like in our classrooms we need to stay consistent with our message and our advocacy.

It is not easy because it is not a one size fits all. To be strong union fighters we need to be careful not to fall into the trap that one type of unionism is better than another.

The idea always has to be to look forward at what our adversaries have planned for us, not look backward at how good we have done. Then we need to utilize contract enforcement in conjunction with organizing to build our power to unify and make us stronger.


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