Chi Trib has p-1 story, "School district spending gap widest in years," meaning between highest- and lowest-spending districts, both of them with almost the same test scores! The same-scores news is in the 8th paragraph, where it is presented as raising "a more fundamental [than spending gap] and politically sensitive question: What does it cost to . . . educate a child?"

I'll say it raises that question. And others too, for readers who turn to the jump page, 16, where they may read that the lowest-spending district, in far South Suburban Frankfort, saves money by partnering with the park district for maintenance and program space and with the library, has higher than average class sizes and less experienced (and so less expensive) teachers, and puts more kids into a building, as 900 in one elementary school.

Good for Diane Rado and Darnell Little for bringing these things out. But that 8th-paragraph item, given good attention in several more paragraphs, actually should be the lead item: Money Doesn't Matter in Top and Bottom Spenders or something like it. That's man biting dog and thus news.

The current headline, on the other hand, as above, is (a) old stuff, even with the "widest in years" part, and (b) possibly phony.

The spending gap is not new, for one thing; so this head is as much propaganda as news.

The gap between top spender and least spending, $20G to not quite $5G, for another, ignores the substantial gap between top and #2 spender, $20G to $17.4G -- not mentioned in the story at all but shown in a jump-page table. So the top spender, a district near extra-expensive Lake Forest with only 130 kids, is an aberration and nothing to build a story on.

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