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Chicago's Public Schools Seek a Bit of Serenity

Ohanian Comment: The outrage here is two-pronged, sparked by the non-coverage of the Chicago public school chief executive's new venture called the "culture of calm."

School "cleansings" (dismissal of all staff, people who know the students, know the neighborhood) and school shutdowns contribute to increased violence in and around schools. Students die.

Journalists providing the New York Times with "increased Chicago coverage" respond by ignoring hearings on school closings and covering the hiring of a school "culture of calm coordinator."

The underlying outrage here is what this so-called news organization, traveling under the umbrella of The New York Times, doesn't cover.

This note appears on the New York Times website: This article is part of our expanded Chicago coverage. The Chicago report features coverage of public affairs, culture, lifestyle and sports in the region and is produced by the Chicago News Cooperative, a non-profit news organization.

Extended Chicago coverage in Times-speak means that there have been 13 hearings on the proposed Chicago public school closings, attended by more than 2,500 teachers, students, parents, and others (including three aldermen) as Substance has been reporting.

Chicago News Cooperative, part of the New York Times expanded Chicago coverage, haven't found their way to a single one of these hearings. This is a worse record than the Chicago Sun-Times, which got to two hearings, but then ignored the dramatic stories.

The Chicago News Cooperative uses the tagline of dedicated to building communities through quality journalism. They seem to build some communities while ignoring others.

CNC founder James O'Shea is finishing his third book, on the decline of the newspaper industry. Indeed.


  • A culture of calm Chicago-style begins with who gets phonecalls returned. As Substance editor George Schmidt reported on March 20, 2009, Public relations chief Monique Bond told him on March 9 that Chicago Public Schoolsl CEO Huberman would get "right back" on some budgetary questions. He's still waiting.

    In June 2009, Schmidt reported a similar non-answer with e-mail requests.

  • A culture of calm Chicago-style begins with who gets press releases. As Substance reported on April 24, 2009:

    Chicago's new public schools public relations chief Monique Bond only issues press releases of CPS events involving Mayor Richard M. Daley to corporate media who will report favorably on the mayor and the schools. Requests by Substance for comments from CEO Rob Huberman or President Michael Scott are also ignored by CPS since Bond was appointed to her $145,000 per year job in February 2009.

  • Even more seriously, calm in the Chicago schools begins with acknowledging the role the Mayor Daley-Arne Duncan-Ron Huberman school closing schemes have played in increased violence and the murder of students. One wonders how serious journalists can ignore this hypocrisy, can ignore the community pleas to keep their schools, and then print an item about the new culture of calm coordinator.

    NOTE: The front page of The New York Times still carries the slogan "all the news that's fit to print."

    by Crystal Yednak

    Ron Huberman, the chief executive of Chicago’s public schools, is looking to hire a "Culture of Calm" coordinator to improve conditions in schools deemed most at risk for student violence.

    The coordinator would work closely with principals on resolving conflicts, providing better emotional support for students, and improving discipline and attendance. The job could pay up to $90,000.

    School officials believe that a calmer atmosphere in the school can reduce violence. "We're trying to make sure there's a calm effect that permeates," said Monique Bond, a schools spokeswoman.

    — Crystal Yednak, with commentary by Susan Ohanian
    Chicago News Cooperative/New York Times





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