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Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday odds and ends

I'm trying to keep my Mondays and Fridays as "office" days so I can sift through the myriad items requiring constant follow up. I spent the weekend proofing pages for a book project so my tired eyeballs could really use a break.

In addition to following up with folks I haven't seen in a while (thanks to the SPJ DSA), I'm also going through my reviewer checklists for fall titles from publishers, getting my writer's group submission together and setting up interviews for upcoming story assignments. Once the mail arrives, I'm also hoping to update my May receivables.

Meanwhile, I found an interesting contradiction in today's Plain Dealer that I thought I'd toss out for your reading and commenting pleasure. Did you happen to see the full-page ad on the back of the A-section for St. Martin de Porres High School? The ad states that every one of the 50 seniors of this private school for those of modest means was accepted into at least one college or university. Cool, huh?

There's no story in the paper on this school, but there IS a cover Arts & Life story on idol nonsense. Are you kidding? It's not as if "American Idol" is some new phenomenon sweeping the nation. It's a tired TV show with sinking viewership. WHY give valuable editorial space to Idol when the achievements of students at an alternative inner-city school are reduced to having sponsors (Forest City) buy ads for them?

If Idol is deemed such a cool story by the editors, throw it up on the web, where the cool "Idol" fans are anyway. I highly doubt they are reading the print version of the paper.

A new kind of urban school, committed to transforming students and preparing them for college deserves better than an ad.

This Catholic college-prep school is not run by the Diocese of Cleveland, but is one of 19 schools across the country in the Cristo Rey Network. Check out the 60 Minutes video about Cristo Rey in Chicago and tell me if you could get through the last 30 seconds without tears. Students, some of whom lack supportive home environments, are in school four days a week for a longer period of time during the day and then work one day at local companies, such as Forest City and even The Plain Dealer!

It's founding supporters are: The Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus, The Sisters of the Humility of Mary, The Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

I spoke with Kim Mantia, associate director of advancement for St. Martin de Porres, who tells me that she scheduled a college signing day with the top 11 students in the class of 2008 (the school's first graduating seniors) and no one from media showed. Now if this involved athletic scholarships, you can bet the city's sportswriters would be there.

A PD photographer who was covering the school during its first year in 2004 did come and he admitted it had been a while since he saw the students (as freshmen), when the paper was committed to observing and writing about its efforts. I certainly hope the PD plans to follow up because if you have any inkling of how difficult education reform is, you'll realize that success of this kind is truly inspirational and contagious.

Regardless of what they do, I plan to write about St. Martin de Porres because I happen to know a little something about education reform efforts. And the school's success is a BIG deal.

Word of the day
dichotomy: a division into two especially mutually exclusive or contradictory groups or entities


Michelle O'Neil said...

It's a huge deal Wendy. Thank you for sharing. Wow.

Jill said...

Kismet huh, since we were both just raving about the kids that come out of that school!? Thanks, Wendy, you are right on. This is what I mean about how the sum total of the parts just never meets expectations.

Wendy A. Hoke said...

I found the lack of coverage a real lapse in news judgment. But, hey, what does a freelance journalist know? I'm sure someone in the newsroom, probably an editor, has a ___-on for American Idol and that's why it keeps getting coverage. That kind of decision-making needs a reality check.