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MEDIA HYPOCRISY IN THE WINDY CITY: Chicago's daily newspapers weren't saying 'Je suis Charlie Hedbo' in 1999 when they called for the legal lynching of Substance after we published the odious CASE tes

Je Suis Substance.

by George N. Schmidt

Despite the fact that Chicago newspapers are falling over themselves in January 2015 to proclaim the values of free expression and "freedom of the press," it only underscores their craven hypocrisy as avatars of corporate "school reform." In January 1999, after Substance published the crazy CASE tests that Paul Vallas had authorized, instead of defending Substance and its editor (this reporter) against an attack on our First Amendment rights, the two dailies joined together on the same day near the end of January 1999 -- to call for the firing of the editor who had dared publish the CASE test and exposed the silly and expensive pretensions of the Vallas administration and that year's iteration of corporate "school reform."

So in January 2015, 16 years after their ludicrous hypocrisy was exposed, it's really cheeky for them to go around doing their "Nous Sommes Chalie Hedbo" stuff. When their commitment to the First Amendment was at issue following the publication of six of the CASE tests in our January 1999 edition, the editors joined not with the calls for a free press, but with their corporate allies in calling for the firing of a teacher.

And so, by August 2000, the Board of Education voted to fire me from my teaching job, ending a career of 28 years. Later, I learned that the firing had resulted not only in the end of my Chicago public schools teaching career, but my teaching career period. After I had spent more than a year applying for teaching jobs in high schools from Orland Park all the way to Lincolnshire (Stevenson) I was told, off the record of course, that nobody was going to hire me. The Tribune and Sun-Times editorials, combined with the Board of Education's action, had in effect resulted in a blacklist against me. Substance survived, but I was not going to return to public school teaching, despite the fact that I had studied poetry under Robert Pinsky at the University of Chicago and had enough undergraduate credit going to my BA degree as most Chicago teachers had while going all the way to their MA degrees.

The result for my family was that each year my Chicago teachers pension is $20,000 less than it would otherwise have been had I completed my entire career.

So let's call out the Trib and Sun-Times for their hypocrisy. Now. This "Je Suis Charlie Hedbo" stuff apparently only applies when the attacks on a free press are carried out in another country by Islamic terrorists.

— George Schmidt





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