Chron still covering school privatization (non)controversy

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Kristen Mack is the latest Chronicle reporter to write on the HISD-is-privatizing-high schools, made-for-newspaper brouhaha. Today’s story covers a protest at Sam Houston High School:

HISD Superintendent Abe Saavedra faced another crowd of angry parents and students at Sam Houston High School Saturday, as they denounced his proposal to possibly outsource school management.


Last month, Saavedra proposed bringing in new management teams for three of lowest-performing high schools in the Houston Independent School District: Yates, Kashmere and Sam Houston.

But since making that proposal public on Feb. 15, he’s faced the ire of parents and students who blame the problems at the schools on ongoing neglect from HISD.

Well, that “ire” was certainly helped by a particular newspaper story’s headline, subheadline, first three paragraphs and informative box — all on the top of the front page. And wouldn’t you think that if “ongoing neglect from HISD” is the problem, that parents and students would welcome a proposal to reform the status quo? It seems counterintuitive to complain about current problems, while at the same time refusing to be open to solutions.

On Saturday, Sam Houston parents and students said they were taken by surprise by Saavedra’s proposal, which includes accepting school reform plans by both HISD employees and outside companies or educators.


Liliana Palma, a senior at Sam Houston, said her “whole world just crashed” when she first heard Saavedra’s proposals.

Those paragraphs are gems. So, let’s take a moment to imagine a completely fictitious conversation:

Assignment Editor at some newspaper somewhere: Hey you, Joe Reporter. A bunch of parents and students are upset that some high school might be privatized or even closed, and they are going to hold a protest. Get right on it.

Joe Reporter: But, uh, are you sure? I thought we goofed up that story. Wouldn’t it be…well…awkward to go cover it? You know, when we, um, maybe…helped create the problem to begin with?

Assignment Editor: Heck no! We ran a sorta, kinda, half-hearted clarification on page two, in a teensy weensy box the next day. It’s out of our hands what people think. Now get yerself over there, pronto! And be sure to bring back lots of ire. Oh, and see if you can find someone whose world has crashed. That’d be good stuff.

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Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.