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How To Kill A Story: Talk Only To The Teachers

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This recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune (A lesson in how to kill a school) is a great example of what I feel like I see all the time -- stories told almost entirely from the point of view of adults (and in particular teachers). Much as teachers' perspectives are important, wouldn't it be great -- and all the more compelling -- if we learned in this story (and others) how the kids who had to change school were doing, or what their parents felt about the changes?

3 Comments

Amen and amen! Hard to say if it would have put a different slant on this story, but despite parental involvement requirements in NCLB, parents are seldom asked to participate in the planning stages of anything. I have watched unnecessary conflict in my district over and over when someone from downtown comes to announce a fait accompli about a school closing, a program disappearing, etc. etc. A few horrendous blunders have been stopped by activist parents. But most parents are pretty reasonable rationale people, and when invited to the table, many uncomfortable but unavoidable choices can be made more smoothly and with time to prepare, etc.

Even a poorly performing charter is usually able to offer parents a more congenial listening ear.

I read this story three times, looking for incriminating details on how the story has been distorted through a teacher/adult point of view. Seems like kind of a sad tale, a functioning-against-the-odds school in a poor neighborhood forced by demographics and changing politics to close:

"Located in the heart of the Jordan neighborhood, North Star was a rarity among North Side schools -- a place where teachers came and stayed, defying the turnover that dogs many inner-city schools. Many of the school's early students returned that loyalty, enrolling their children and grandchildren at North Star.

That stability helped North Star students test better on state reading and math tests than students from the same neighborhoods who attended nearby Jordan Park school."

So we have a successful school that's closing and teachers say they'll miss the familial atmosphere and long-term staff coherence they had at North Star. Sounds like they were proud of the job they'd been doing, beating the odds.

So what's your assumption about what's missing in this story? From a journalistic standpoint, it would have been nice to hear from a parent or student with their feelings about closing a school, I suppose.

Living near Detroit, however, where parents recently forced the DPS School Board to postpone necessary school closings by throwing grapes at them during a Board meeting, I do understand why school officials sometimes make unpopular decisions with little public input.

Given the number of times I have seen wildly one-sided perspectives on education issues in newspaper articles, I just don't see this as an egregious example of unfair and unbalanced.

thanks for the comment. i'm not saying that the outcome was ideal at all, or that teachers' experiences aren't important. i'm just saying that the story didn't include much of anything else, and that in my short experience reading education coverage that's often the case.

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