This One’s for John Peck, Editorial Page Editor, Huntsville Times

Usually reading a Huntsville Times editorial is like encountering the Scarecrow of Oz before he realizes he has any brains. Remember when Dorothy asks which way to Oz, and the Scarecrow replies by telling her to go one way, then turns around and immediately tells her the opposite is an equally good option, and then returns to his first suggestion?

So I was surprised to see something resembling an assertion in John Peck’s editorial, “Welcome, Mr. Schools Superintendent.” Peck, editorial page editor, writes:

“And while [Casey] Wardynski must ultimately be the one to present school closing recommendations to the board, some pressure will have been lifted off of him by a demographer’s study that the school board is mulling. That study recommended closing four elementary schools and four middle schools, closing Butler High School and relocating New Century Technology High School to the rebuilt Lee High School – but not until the 2012-2013 school year.

What is outrageous about Peck’s summary is the unquestioning assumption that “some pressure will have been lifted off of Wardynski by a demographer’s study.” What is Peck suggesting here? It sounds like Peck thinks that Wardynski doesn’t need to  read the demographer’s study critically, consider the consequences of the Board’s “mulling,” or pay the slightest attention to the comments gathered in the five public meetings. All Wardynski need do is just sign off on the demographer’s recommendations.

At first I thought, does Peck not read his own paper? Obviously he doesn’t bother running an occasional Google blog search for “Huntsville City Schools,” or he would know that time after time after time members of the Huntsville community have challenged the validity of the demographer’s findings. When I looked again at the Huntsville Times’ coverage of this debacle, I realized that reading his own paper wouldn’t get Peck very far. Still, the comments al.com readers posted on articles regarding the school closure meetings should have sparked his journalistic curiosity.

If we are lucky, Wardynski will be bright enough to recognize that the Huntsville Times is bought for the sports pages, obituaries, classifieds, movie and TV times, and comics.

If we aren’t lucky, and Wardynski says to himself, ”That Huntsville Times crew, they are really on the ball!”, then nothing and no one can help us.

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