Saturday in the wake of their massive error I teased CNN about the definition of “Newsworthy”. Yesterday I told the story of a special election that took place last week in Massachusetts, a State where Hillary won by 27 points and where they hold super-majorities in both houses, where a GOP State Senate Candidate flipped a seat that Democrats have held for over 25 years and suggested this story is a good example of what is Newsworthy.
However while I’ve done lots of shoe leather reporting over the last 8 years I’ve never actually worked for a newspaper or in a newsroom, nor have I exercised editorial control over anything larger than this blog.
So what would experienced reporters who have done journalism for a living all their lives and have to sell their product elsewhere, what would such folks lives think?
So I contacted several professional reporters current and former and asked them, without giving any details if he would consider a pro-life 2nd amendment republicans flipping a seat held by democrats for over 25 years in a special election in Massachusetts newsworthy.
As you might guess my first stop was Robert Stacy McCain. He has decades of experience as a reporter in papers large and small from his early twenties. He concluded it was for the following reasons:
“It points to the direction of politics as we head to the midterm elections and it is a possible indicator that the Trump momentum will continue despite the usual trend of off-year elections favoring the party out of power.”
He game an example from recent history as well.
“When democrats had a very good result in Virginia elections in November and this was made national news…the election of a transgender Democrat to a formerly republican held seat (also in Virginia) it made national news.”
And he cited the upcoming special election in Alabama as something that elevates the newsworthyness of the story further:
“If Trump really has momentum nationwide this result in a special election in Massachusetts might point to what we are looking at in Alabama.
That agenda has encouraged the Republican base. It’s about who can get out and mobilize their base. Republicans flip a Democrat seat in Massachusetts that tells you that despite what the pols might indicate and despite what the media might tell you to believe Trump remains popular with his base. So when you come to Tuesday, Democrats have tired to nationalize the Alabama senate race but it will be a base election.”
I also spoke to Don Surber author of Trump the Press and Trump the Establishment the same question. While currently retired he like Stacy McCain has decades of experience in the newsroom. To him the answer to the question would really depend on location.
“If I’m in Massachusetts it’s newsworthy because it has proximity, it has prominence, it’s timely, it’s odd because Gop doesn’t win there it has consequence because it will affect legislation.”
With the GOP only up to 7 senators that last one point is unlikely although you can’t get to 21 without getting to 7 first. So if he was in charge at the Boston Globe
“It has front page newsworthiness below the fold right hand corner.”
The Globe apparently disagreed with Mr. Surber. Tran’s victory didn’t make the front page but a search of their web site for Dean Tran did have a result in the Metro region.
linking to this seven sentence story by Jake Johnson from Wednesday including this quote from the Mass GOP Chair Kristen Hughes:
“The MassGOP is proud to congratulate [Tran] on his victory, which is a testament to the fact that voters stand with Governor Baker’s vision of fiscal discipline and common sense reform,” Kirsten Hughes, chairwoman of the MassGOP said in a statement announcing Tran’s victory.
Based on Don Surber’s stated opinion the Massachusetts paper of record definitely undersold a newsworthy story in the state, but when asked if it rises to the level of a national story , his opinion was very different.
“It’s not really national news I’d probably report it on some level If I ran it on AP I’d run it as a small 3 paragraph story.”
And he explained why: “I’d blog about it, for partisans it has impact. it’s not a national story because you have fifty state senates, most of them are republican. Space is a limited thing…you have to pick and choose your spots, AP would have it, same with Bloomberg news, three paragraphs”
A search of AP showed that while they didn’t have any original reporting they had picked up the Sentinel articles quoted in this piece
While a search of Bloomberg produced plenty for “Dean” results on colleges and “tran” on transgerder issues they had nothing on the special election in Massachusetts.
But that’s newspapers, Should we have seen something on Fox for example?
“Would I expect it to be on Brett Baier’s special report, no.”
And apparently Fox news agrees
How about CNN?
“If you are doing a political hour you might mention it but to the audience CNN is serving it’s not a national story.”
and apparently CNN agrees there as well
Of course part of what makes a story news is the attempt of people to push it. For example If I was the GOP chair national chair, particularly if I was the daughter of the former governor of Massachusetts, I’d have made it a point to mention this election to force coverage of a GOP win in a democrat stronghold and if I was the National GOP I’d at least have a mention of this result on my page
Here again Surber disagrees. “Democrats went with their minor victories because they had nothing else to brag about.” Surber cited the Tax bill, news reports on manufacturing jobs and President Trump move on Jersualem as stories of a much higher priority for the national party to push. But even if the national party decided to push the story, if it was up to him Surber wouldn’t bite saying bluntly: “It’s just not a national story.”
So maybe I shouldn’t be as hard on CNN as I was yesterday.
Closing note. I had planned to have a third reporter for this post, unfortunately for me and him Dave Weigel became rather tied up this weekend. Ironically he became more newsworthy than my story or this post.
This story is what we call “News”
Robert Stacy McCain The Power of Simple Sentences May 31st 2011
Yesterday I promised an example of a Newsworthy story it now follows:
On Tuesday morning before I was headed off to what would be, unknown to me, my last day of work before I was laid off, I headed to the St. Bernards activity center in Fitchburg Ma’s ward six with my son to vote in a special election for the Massachusetts State Senate vacated by Democrat Jennifer Flanagan of Leominster after Governor Charlie Baker appointed her to the Massachusetts Cannabis Commission.
If this had been the US Senate the idea of a GOP governor appointing a Democrat Senator from a district that went for Scott Brown in the past might have made some waves, but as Flanagan had successfully defended her seat both during the 2010 big red wave and the smaller 2014 red wave that elected Charlie Baker Governor (I covered the debates back then) and the fact that a republican hadn’t held that seat since the first George Bush was president (Mary Padula) there wasn’t a lot of worry over it in Democrat circles. Particularly since her GOP opponent Dean Tran had previously lost a special election for State Rep in Fitchburg where he was a longtime city counselor even though popular GOP sheriff Lew Evangelidis and Governor Charlie Baker had appeared on his behalf then and would do so in this race too.
The primary was held on the day of the General election and despite two wild cards longtime Leominster city counselor Claire Freda (a self described Conservative Democrat / Liberal Republican) running as unenrolled and Green / Rainbow candidate Charlene DiCalogero the smart money was on Susanne Chalifoux Zepher who had won a three way Democrat primary on election day and had outspent Tran by more than 6-1 .
But election day Tran’s supporters turned out:
Leominster resident Sarah Tatro said she was more swayed by Tran’s Republican convictions, which she said were more in line with her own views.
“He’s way more of a conservative than Sue Chalifoux Zephir and he lines up with a lot of the policies I care about and my beliefs,” she said, referring to his pro-life stance and support of the Second Amendment.
And when I got home that night after midnight I was delighted to find out that Dean had won with 46% of the vote in the four way race to Chalifoux-Zephir’s 42% Freda picked up 10% of the vote (lower than I expected) and green candidate DiCalogero 1%. This gives the GOP its seventh seat out of forty in the Massachusetts senate and gets them half way toward the 14 seats needed to break the Democrat senate super majority.
Now I will grant you in terms of the composition of the Massachusetts senate it’s not going to make a huge difference this year.
But it seems to be that a Republican candidate, and not just a republican but a Minority pro-life 2nd Amendment republican, flips a senate seat, and not just a senate seat but a seat that Democrats have held since 1992, to represent three cites (Fitchburg Leominster & Gardner) that all went for Hillary in a state she won by over 27 points might, just might, be a Tad newsworthy.
But in fairness that’s the opinion of a blogger who has never been employed in the MSM. What would professional reporters say? Tomorrow I’ll share with you the opinions of a few I spoke to on the subject.
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On the day I promised my wife I would abandon the internet until we got home from Hampton Beach my congresswoman decided to call it quits.
Having imprinted the 3rd Congressional District with the indelible mark of her family’s public service, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas will step away from Congress at the end of her current term to help nurture her family’s next generation.
First elected in 2007 to a congressional seat her husband Paul wielded to great effect, Tsongas has made a name for herself as a fierce advocate for women in the military, veterans benefits, and health care. Her recent bids for re-election have been forgone conclusions, but Tsongas said in a statement announcing her decision that the time has come to move on.
“I am so grateful to those who have been there since day one, and to the many great Americans who I have met along the way, all of whom have served as my inspiration and support,” Tsongas said. “I have learned in life that there is a time for endings and for new beginnings. After much thought, I have decided that this is one of those times.”
Tsongas, who is 71, has three daughters and two grandchildren, with another expected imminently. She said she plans to spend more time “enjoying and celebrating” them after her term expires at the end of 2018.
Now I’m a big fan of spending one’s golden years with the children and grandchildren and in that sense I completely agree with Congresswoman Tsongas’ decision, but I couldn’t help notice how this announcement contrasts with a story in the very same paper just four months ago:
REP. NIKI Tsongas put to rest growing rumors that she’s be retiring from Congress in 2018, when her present two-year term is up.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not going anywhere but to work. I’m happy, healthy, and committed to helping my constituents on issues that are so important to them,” said Tsongas, who represents the 3rd Congressional District.
Asked to explain the persistent rumors, Tsongas said, “I think it is age-driven. I’m 71 and some people might be thinking I’m going to retire. But that’s not something I’m thinking about.”
So the question on the floor is this: What changed in the 107 days between April 23rd and August 9th that converted the story of Niki Tsongas retirement from a rumor to be quenched to a reality to be celebrated?
Might I be so bold as to suggest that the congresswoman , who has been covered and interviewed by this blogger, just might have seen this post:
Sunday, even after the GOP fell on it’s face over Obamacare and the White House was playing musical staff Nancy Pelosi is reportedly saying stuff like this
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Sunday it was “unimportant” for Democrats to win back a majority in the lower chamber in the mid-term elections, The Hill reported.
“That’s so unimportant. What is important is that we have the lively debate on a better deal,” Pelosi told Fox News host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” when asked about the chances Democrats had to win back the House in 2018.
What does that tell you? It tells me that no matter how bad things look for the GOP the American people have decided that the Democrats are worse.
Now perhaps it’s huberis to think that Congresswoman Tsongas first heard about Minority Leader Pelosi’s declaration here but I suggest it would be naive to discount this story from the Congresswoman’s calculations.
Or to put it another way, in April when Nancy Pelosi was talking Democrats taking congress, and the prospect of a committee chair and the power that comes with it was there, Congresswoman Tsongas was all about working for the people of the 3rd district. Once it became clear that even an outside chance of such a prospect meant staying in congress until she was closer to eighty than seventy, enjoying one’s golden years with the grandchildren while one is healthy enough to enjoy them trumped another guaranteed lustrum or two in the congressional minority.
FYI here is the interview with Congresswoman Tsongas that the image at the top came from
Closing thought, Interesting that the Democrats didn’t ask her to resign early and generate a winnable special election in a deep blue state that they could tout isn’t it?
A quick Layoff bleg update. Yesterday was the scheduled end to my layoff bleg and I’m sorry to say we didn’t manage half of the goal I had set although we did manage to raise enough to get me a paycheck this week and next week. This will make August a very lean month.
So if you are inclined and at all able I would ask you to hit DaTipJar at this time even if we don’t make the goal another $315 will mean a full paycheck for August 25th.
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Two years ago when the new young pastor of St. Anthony di Padua Church in Fitchburg Massachusetts was forced out of the parish by a letter writing campaign by some individuals in the parish that somehow convinced the Bishop to move the young priest despite the lack of any wrongdoing I wrote a list of who the biggest losers were. this was number 7:
St. Anthony’s School: Our Elementary School will be trading a young dynamic priest, who was the chaplain of the Fitchburg Fire Department. A priest from the video game, email and cell phone era for a priest in his 60’s. Boy that’s going to be a draw for young families choosing between the catholic schools in the area. And hey, if parents if you have a choice between enrolling your kid in a Catholic school where the parish is divided or a school where it is not, where are you going to go?
Well less than a month after the parish insisted that they were not closing the school, merely trimming some of the grades, the inevitable is taking place:
Saint Anthony School will close after the end of this school year, Rev. Leo-Paul LeBlanc said Tuesday.
Citing decreased enrollment, LeBlanc said the elementary and middle school will not reopen next fall after 66 years educating members of the city’s Catholic community.
“The numbers of enrolled students simply cannot support the financial responsibilities that would be necessary to operate and provide a quality education we have prided ourselves on for our students,” LeBlanc wrote in a letter sent to parents on Tuesday.
Amazingly the article at the Sentinal and Enterprise has absolutly no mention of the turmoil that turned a school that five years ago had waiting lists and was raising funds for an expansion into one where parents don’t want to send their kids and to put it off to fewer nuns and rising costs is disengunious at best. The parish has shot itself in the foot and in so doing has thrown away the hard work of our father and grandfathers who had a lot less that us but managed to build a parish and a school for their kids.
I urge most strongly that the parish adpot a Spiritual Plan of Action at once either the one I suggested or another ASAP before the next shoe falls.
During the 2nd day of Fr Stephen Imbarrato’s visit to Massachusetts after celebrating a mass and attending a breakfast in Medford he traveled to Fitchburg. We covered his Eucharistic Procession here but there were several other items of interest both before and after that event.
He said Saturday morning mass at St Camillus church at St. Bernard’s Parish in Fitchburg and sat for an interview after mass on the events.
Linda Santo who spoke the previous night in Medford attended this mass and also consented to an interview.
From there we went to Slattery’s in Fitchburg (home of that most perfect of deserts Kentucky Derby Pie) for a luncheon to a packed house, Fr briefly spoke there as well.
Next there came the procession viewed now online by over 200K people (for context the population of Fitchburg is 40k) after the procession we traveled to the former Madonna of the Holy Rosary parish where Fr. heard confessions, celebrated the divine mercy vigil mass followed by a dinner served by the Knights of Columbus of the St. Anthony of Padua counsel and a talk.
But the there was a pleasant surprise at both this dinner and the previous one. There was a band playing at both this event and the previous one in Medford. It turns out they were a group called Musicians for life and they not only performed old guitar staples of the faith like Mighty to Save during dinner
but after an introduction by Fr. Imbarrato also performed six original songs explicit pro-life songs written specifically for these event such as Let em Live: (which was streamed life to his facebook page)
Where have all the Children Gone
I’m Here with Jesus
Listen to my Heart Beating
It’s a life (which I think is a really catchy tune)
and the Choice is Yours
At the end of the night they sat for an interview
It would be their final performance during Fr. Imbarrato’s trip as they had a commitment the next day but if I may be so bold and suggest that they and their music would be a welcome addition to any Catholic or pro-life event.
A photo gallery follows:
MORE TO COME…
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On Saturday afternoon drivers on Main Street in Fitchburg Massachusetts saw a sight they had likely not seen before.
Fr Stephen Imbarrato of Priests for Life and sometimes EWTN personality was in Fitchburg from New Mexico for the 2nd of three days in Massachusetts invited by WQPH 89.3 FM. Both Friday and Sunday would involve events and dinners in the Boston area but after a breakfast in Medford the rest of Saturday belonged to Fitchburg and it was an active one
He would celebrate daily mass at St. Bernards Parish at St. Camillus Church at noon, he would be the guest of honor at a lunch at Slattery’s. He would celebrate the Divine Mercy Vigil mass at the now closed Madonna of the Holy Rosary and would hear so many confessions that evening that it would delay the Dinner at that’s church’s hall and his speech there.
But the Highlight of the day and indeed his trip was to come at 2:30 when he would lead that most Catholic and most rare of events at least around here, a Eucharistic Procession where the Holy Eucharistic the actual Body blood soul and divinity of Christ would be actually be carried in full display along the street.
It was three years ago that I had covered a Eucharistic Procession from MIT to Harvard in response to the Satanic Black Mass. Saturday’s event would not be as dramatic but the target was just as evil, the Planned Parenthood location in Fitchburg which services the Worcester location to facilitate the murder and dismemberment of pre-born babies for financial gain.
at 2:30 a small crowd gathered at the old City hall including a contingent from the Knights of Columbus council #15962 St. Anthony of Padua Chapter Fr Imbarrato in full regalia held the Monstrance containing the host and began the prayers of adoration. And led by a banner calling for Rosaries to be prayed for America and an image of Divine Mercy with two angels cradling victims of abortion Fr. and the Crowd began to process from City Hall to Planned Parenthood.
In addition to this video a second person was streaming the procession live to Fr. Imbarrato’s facebook page where 2000 people watched and prayed live with us as we marched down the street praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday.
There were many curious reactions as the procession continued. A young girl at Espresso’s Pizza took pictures or videos with her camera as we passed. Drivers down main street slowed as they watched us, some visibly surprised at the sight of the blessed sacrament and the event drew curious looks from an art gallery where a small event was taking place at the same time.
It took about 11 minutes for the crowd of 70-80 accompanied unseen by the two thousand plus on the life stream to get to the planned parenthood location across from the parking lot where I had parked.
Unlike previous events there was no sign of counter protestors nor was there any sign of the press which was odd as fliers for the event had been distributed in the area for months. There was also a distinct lack of various people either passing by or driving by throwing the odd insult at the praying and protesting crowd. Whether it was due to the presence of the blessed sacrament or not I leave it for you to say, but there were at least two people who joined the crowd in prayer as they finished the Divine Mercy Chaplet and went to the Rosary.
Through it all Fr. Imbarrato stood there holding the Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament before the Planned Parenthood site not reacting to the cars passing by, some beeping horns in support, some just staring, nor at the passers by from the young black man who took some video on his phone, to the fellow staring as he walked back to his apartment carrying this takeout from Fitchburg Jade to the Spanish Woman who looked at the sacrament and the praying and nodded in acknowledgement and approval.
Oddly there was no activity at the location itself. On previous Saturdays during protests there would be people at the location but it seemed empty and barren. Perhaps they had left early, perhaps it was a slow day but either way there was nobody entering or leaving under the visage of Christ.
At it neared 4 pm Fr. prayed the final prayers of Adoration and the host was covered and people began dispersing. Some to their homes, others to Madonna of the Holy Rosary for the next set of events which will be covered in later posts but I’ll leave you with this note.
Just under five hours later at Holy Rosary Church near the end of his talk. He informed the crowd that the number of people who had so far watched the video of the procession still available on his facebook page was in the tens of thousands. UPDATE over 200,000 It’s worth noting that the entire population of Fitchburg is only about 40,000 souls and it remains to be seen how long it will take the number of viewers online to eclipse that figure.
But even if not a single other person watches it, this was one of the most significant Catholic events ever held in Fitchburg. Eucharistic processions are not common these days and one led by a national leader of the prolife moment in Fitchburg is rarer still.
It’s fitting that as people gather from all over the nation in Massachusetts at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in the southwest part of the state it serves as a reminder of just how much we need mercy for.
A photo gallery follows
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At the last minute my scheduled extra shift was cancelled and I found myself able to briefly attended the anti-abortion protest in Fitchburg which while part of a series of national protests for defending planned parenthood was delayed a week by winter storms.
In the seven years that Planned Parenthood has been in Fitchburg there have been many demonstrations there and lots of prayer but over the last year our friends on the left started counting protesting so there were two distinct groups, one near the entrance of the parking garage that was prolife and wanting to defund planned parenthood
And one directly opposite the “clinic” that was in favor of abortion and planned parenthood
When we first started protesting planned parenthood before the building even opened we had no opposition (unless you count the painter working on the building before they opened who told me that said if it gets rid of some of the Spanish in town he’s all for it) the other side never bothered to counter protest. It speaks well of the effectiveness of the pro-life prayers that our foes now, in the last year have found it necessary to counter us (if we had no effect then they’d ignore us) and it speaks even better of us that in a college town in this bluest of states we outnumbered them on a Saturday, but the most interesting part of my brief visit was completely unexpected.
At one point as the rosary began a young lady from the other side walked over and started engaging one of our group, the organizer, not wanting the prayers to be interrupted, asked her to postpone her engagement until the prayer was done at which time they’d be happy to talk to her but I was intrigued, so I walked over to her and we spoke literally between the two groups.
Other than age we had a lot in common, we attended the same university (although it was a college when I was there before she was born) we were both engineers (although she has a double major) but most important of all she was willing to talk to people she disagreed with which suggests both curiosity and a liking for people, this and her civility given what we’ve seen in the land is rare and should always be encouraged.
At this point I offered to interview her and she consented (which given my association with the other side shows a level of trust I’ve rarely experienced when engaging opponents)
I thought she did quite well, particularly on the question of funding and after the interview we talked briefly. She said that I had given her things to think about.
Meanwhile I moved back to my side of the aisle and there I found Olivia who also consented to an interview. She was a few years younger than Natasha and talked about the pressure that she gets from her peers for her open pro-life stance.
It seemed to me in many ways Natasha and Olivia were very alike and as I pondered it something clicked in my head. I asked Joyce (the protest leader for our Pro-life group) If I could speak to the group before leaving and she agreed.
I asked them to pray for the folks on the other side noting that some of the greatest pro-life warriors of our age started out on the other side and for all we know one of those young people (and most of them were college age with a few older feminists sprinkled in) might be leading our protests some day. On my way out I quietly asked a pair of people, strong in faith & prayer to pray for Natasha and found myself not only doing the same but adding her to my lengthy prayer list remembering that God changes hearts.
That very day the news of McCorvey, a.k.a. ‘Jane Roe,’ death broke:
She had a troubled, difficult life, but eventually renounced her pro-abortion views and converted to Catholicism
Her conversion story is here an excerpt in her own words
The sad story of my days as a pro-choice activist, days that I am happy are long gone, is recounted in the book I am Roe. The marvelous story of my journey to a new life in Christ and the pro-life movement is recounted in the book Won by Love. Now it is time to add a new chapter to the story of my life, because God had more in store for me even after He made me 100% pro-life and washed me in the waters of baptism.
He wanted me to “come home,” a message that scared me at first, because I did not know what it meant.
Eventually she would figure it out and become Catholic
The day finally arrived when I would be received into the Catholic Church. I did not have to be baptized again, because the Catholic Church recognizes the validity of baptism by flowing water in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. So the ceremony, scheduled for August 17, 1998 at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Dallas, was a Mass during which I would profess my adherence to all that the Catholic Church officially teaches, and would receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and of First Holy Communion.
I did not want this day to be a media event. No part of my journey of conversion was for the media; it was for God. I did not want distractions, or a distortion of the day’s true meaning…The first time Fr. Frank Pavone interviewed me for his radio program, he started by saying, “So you are the Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade.” “No Father,” I responded, “I was the Jane Roe of Roe vs. Wade, but now I am a new creation in Christ. I am Roe no more!”
The primary goal of us in the pro-life movement is to save lives, both the lives of the child (and all those generations that would follow) and the life of the mother, father and all of those who will suffer, sometimes in silence, and sometimes in public over abortion.
But the 2nd goal is to change hearts and minds, because it will be those changed hearts and changed minds that will make the first goal possible and will even more importantly lead to changed souls.
And it’s a changed soul that is the different between eternal life and eternal death which in the end is the bottom line we will all face.
Right now I have a lot on my plate and I suspect so do you but I’d ask that you add a daily prayer for both Natasha and Oliva, may they both, like the brother in scripture, find themselves in the end together in their father’s house, one there from the start, and the other after a wrong turn and a long detour, but both in the end together in celebration.
That’s a result worth praying for.
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As a general rule there are not a lot of reasons for conservatives in Massachusetts to smile come election time but WCVB polls on Question 2, the expansion of charter schools in the state is an exception:
On charter schools, 49 percent of likely voters support the question and 39 percent oppose, with 12 percent unsure. With leaners, the support goes up to 52 percent and opposition to 41 percent.
In fact there has been a divide on the question amongst liberals with the Boston Globe editorializing against fiscal objections to charter schools and some Cambridge city officials spitting from their fellows on question 2.
US News has noticed this split between the liberal grass-roots and their leadership on this issue
But why do many civil rights groups oppose charters? The more deeply one looks, the more puzzling the question. Unlike rank-and-file teachers, the African-Americans we surveyed support charters by a nearly two to one margin. Forty-eight percent of African Americans say they favor the formation of charters, while only 29 percent stand in opposition, with the remainder taking the neutral position. In fact the opinions of African-Americans resemble those of the American public as a whole – 51 percent support, 28 percent oppose, 21 percent neutral. A March Boston Globe poll found much the same level of support for charters in the Bay State as we found nationally, both among the public as a whole and among all demographic groups.
Not only does the black community support charters, but African-American students enjoy over-representation in charter schools. According to the U. S. Department of Education 27 percent of all charter students are black, even though black students constitute only 16 percent of the overall public school population. Hispanic students at charters (30 percent) are slightly over-represented, as their share of the school-age population is 25 percent. But white students constitute just a quarter of the enrollees at charters, even though they are half of all students attending public school. Mysteriously, the NAACP calls this segregation
This divide has not slowed down the teachers unions and their allies. In my home town of Fitchburg a local office opened up in the parkhill plaza area with a big sign Fitchburg Educational Association over it. This has been a source of the lawn signs against question two that have popped up all over town. In my travels I’ve yet to notice any such comparable effort locally on the other side.
the Massachusetts Department of Education released the accountability results for schools across the state. Sizer School, a 7-12 public charter in Fitchburg, has reached Level 1 status – an exciting accomplishment. In the aggregate and by subgroup, Sizer students met state targets for achievement. Sizer also saw strong improvement in subgroup performance in English Language Arts, and in moving students from warning/failing into proficient, and from proficient to advanced. This benchmark is due to the achievement and dedication of Sizer staff, students, and families. It represents diligence and is the result of hard work to ensure students understand and are able to demonstrate mastery of content and concepts in a testing environment.
According to the Massachusetts State 2016 glossary of accountability terms level one means?
Massachusetts’ Framework for District Accountability and Assistance classifies schools and districts on a fivelevel scale, classifying those meeting their gap narrowing goals in Level 1 and the lowest performing in Level 5. Approximately eighty percent of schools are classified into Level 1 or 2 based on the cumulative PPI for the “all students” and high needs groups. For a school to be classified into Level 1, the cumulative PPI for both the “all students” group and high needs students must be 75 or higher.
It defines “high needs students” as:
The high needs group is an unduplicated count of all students in a school or district belonging to at least one of the following individual subgroups: students with disabilities, English language learners (ELL) and former ELL students, or economically disadvantaged students. For a school to be considered to be making progress toward narrowing proficiency gaps, the cumulative PPI for both the all students group and high needs students must be 75 or higher.
Sizer school scored 76 on all students and an even higher 78 for “high needs” students.
Meanwhile according to state stats Fitchburg in General (Level 3 62/60) and the schools servicing comparable grade levels Fitchburg high (Level 3 60/51) Longsjo Middle school (Level 2 74/68) and Memorial Middle School (Level 3 61/53) did not do so well.
On the minus side Sizer overall performance relative to other schools in same school type was 40 meaning that 60 percent of comparable schools scored better. That might have been a good talking point for the folks at the Fitchburg Educational Association trying to move voters in Fitchburg voters if it wasn’t for the fact that Longsjo Middle school relative overall performance score was a 23, Memorial Middle school a 22 and Fitchburg high a lowly 10 barely making double digits.
As election day grows nearer those opposed to charter school expansion in Massachusetts find themselves in the same position as Senator Richard Russell of Georgia who during the debate on the Civil Rights Act of 1957 had a memorable exchange over the need for a such a law with Senator Pat McNamara of Michigan on the senate floor. Russell arguing for the status quo, noted McNamara’s stated racial issues in Michigan could be handled without outside interference and asked “Then, why does not the senator let us [in the south] do the same?” McNamara, in a loud voice answered the argument for maintaining things as they were by saying: “Because you’ve had ninety years and haven’t done it.”
That’s the dilemma of those hoping to reverse those polling numbers. If the local schools had produced results that parents wanted for their children the whole question of charter schools would be moot. But as long as the stats from the state and more importantly the results that are visible to the voters every time their children come home from school remain what they’ve been for years, lawn signs not withstanding the argument for the status quo will remain a difficult sell.
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Saturday Governor Charlie Baker spent the Day in Fitchburg Massachusetts stumping with longtime City Councilor Dean Tran who is running against even longer time city Councillor Steven Hay for the State Rep seat vacated by newly elected mayor Steve DiNatale.
The final stop on the governor’s trip where he would speak for Dean and meet voters was Destare a small nightclub/bar at the corner of main and Cushing street where believe it or not 30 years ago at the ripe old age of 23 I opened a comic book/hobby shop which is now their downstairs storeroom.
Fitchburg didn’t have the reputation it does now but it seemed like every other month till I moved it my shop was broken into and robbed, so I asked the Owner if he had any trouble since opening up several years ago. He said quite the opposite he had seen no trouble at all which, along with good food, good drink and excellent wi-fi speed explains his success.
I arrived around 1 PM and set up laptop and mike where I would record the first two segments of DaTechGuy off DaRadio podcast (available by clicking the fedora in the corner or emailed directly if you subscribe). Within a few minutes sign holder for Dean Tran led by the indomitable Mary Lotze formerly of the Twin city Tea party and now head of the Fitchburg Republican Committee.
As time passed the number of sign holders grew outside while the club started to fill up. About 20 minutes before the governor arrived I noticed a group of well dressed men sitting by the window. It tuned out they were from a protestant church in the Cleghorn part of town which once housed the large French Canadian population who came down from Canada to work the now shuttered factories that once dominated Fitchburg when it was a hub of manufacturing from shoes to Machine Guns, but is now one of two sections of down where the Spanish population is concentrated. Minister George Rodriguez consented to an interview:
Alas the lith ion battery in my primary camera choose at the end of that interview to die o I switched to my broken (no stills, no zoom) but still functioning emergency backup camera for the rest of the day. I used that to record this interview with Ed Vargus who was in attendance promoting his program to get kids off the street using skateboarding which I recorded later in the day
but include here because it fits with the Minister’s talk about getting involved with the community.
Fifteen minutes after the interview with the Minister the Governor arrived.
The governor was accompanied by his wife and Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis one of the most popular elected republicans in the area and one of the few actually taller than Charlie Baker. Despite the recent squabbles concerning the state committee (more on that here) he warmly greeted, and was warmly greeted by, those standing out.
When the Governor and the Sheriff came in they worked the crowd greeting and talking to people who attended. It’s worth nothing that they gave time to the attendees rather than simply making perfunctorily statements.and shaking hands which is one of the reasons for his popularity.
After about 15 minutes of that the guests of honor took the stage, first the Sheriff, then the Governor and then Counselor Tran who was the object of today’s exercise.
The Sheriff emphasized in his speech public safety without which none of the other things that make a city great can be achieved and his work with Counselor Tran on that subject. The Governor stressed his own beginnings as a selectman where everybody knows where you live an knows when you’ve voted a way they dislike and let you know about it and talked of how Dean’s background would be of great use as a representative. When Counselor Tran took the stage he talked about bread and butter issues but two things stood out to me.
When talking about jobs he stressed how jobs in Fitchburg meant families could stay in Fitchburg echoing the Chris Christie “Grandparents” speech which in my opinion should be a staple of any GOP speech on fiscal responsibility.
But what really stood out to me was his American Dream story by which he could come from a 3rd world country, come to America, succeed at business, be the first minority counselor in Fitchburg and then run for state office with the endorsement of the most popular governor in the Entire United States.
There was some jocularity as well. Dean is of short stature and both the Governor and the Sheriff tower over him and there was some good natured ribbing along those lines but in terms of public service they all stand tall together.
I had hoped to ask the governor a few questions about his popularity (Is it a function of the no drama, get things done work ethic, the possibility of him being considered for a national ticket, an his efforts to slowly increase the number of elected republicans to at least get enough to sustain a veto in one house but Gov Baker took no questions and frankly didn’t give me a first look. Sheriff Lew was friendly but noting another commitment that he had to attend apologized leaving right after the speech. I had better luck with Counselor Tran himself.
I have a long memory , when we were fighting Planned Parenthood in Fitchburg Counselor Tran was sympathetic to use while his opponent was whole hog for Planned Parenthood so there is no question where my vote is going on Tuesday.
One oddity. This special election is the day of the Massachusetts primary (Supertuesday) so one might think the increased turnout and the Trump phenom would help Counselor Tran but it’s also worth noting that there are separate ballots for the presidential primary and the local election so it’s unclear how if at all, that will affect the outcome. This came out in my conversation with Mary Lotze in a segment which I recorded as part of my Podcast and include here
As I said before It’s a good sign that the governor is stumping for a social conservative despite the State committee kerfuffle it remains to be seen if he, the sheriff, the LT Gov (who attended an earlier event that I was unavailable to cover) and the increased turnout will be enough to give us our first GOP state rep out of Fitchburg in a while.
That dear voters is up to you.
For the first times since I lost my job an Stacy McCain lost his Twitter right we’ve had a setback in our quest for $61 to make a living back here at the blog. Yesterday DaTipJar was completely and utterly silent. So as we find ourselves seeking a new $61 today our deficit for the year climbs back to 21 days and $1335 dollars.
In fairness my email blast went out late do to covering the Governor (post later today) an helping my son move so I didn’t spend the day promoting the blog, furthermore it was saturday and I suspect that our traffic consisted of our core readers who take a peek before going an enjoying the weekend.
yet if less than 1% of yesterday’s readers kicked in $15 each we would have made out goal for the day with ease.
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