Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

[Susan notes: The specifics of this letter are masterful. The columnists paints all Chicago public schools with a broad brush. Sharon Schmidt calls out the names of the specific schools with which she is intimately acquainted.

Go forth and do likewise. Ask the media to put down that broad brush and be specific.]

Submitted to Chicago Tribune but not published

Dear Ms. Schmich,

I usually don't respond to other journalists about what they write about education. (I am currently the editor of Substance, www.substancenews.net.) But I have to respond to the statement you made in your column about the community protest by Mayor Emanuel's home. In that piece you wrote, "Let's all agree on one thing: Chicago's public schools are a mess."

I have taught in Chicago since 1995, never in a high school that was a mess: Jones, Hancock, and Steinmetz. I've taught more than a thousand students over the years. I can't think of many who are a mess. I've worked in elementary schools while obtaining my reading masters: McPhearson, Lloyd, and Portage Park. None were a mess. My husband has a son who graduated from two schools: Beubian elementary and Whitney Young -- neither a mess. Our youngest sons attend O. A. Thorp. It's not a mess.

Many problems we report on in Substance arise from inequitable funding of schools and disadvantaged students. Since I've been on the Substance staff (1998), we've also reported many problems regarding high stakes testing, dictated by the mayors and their appointed school boards and CEOs. That's a mess.

What are you talking about when you say "Let's all agree on one thing: Chicago public schools are a mess." Are you talking about the teachers, students, their test scores, school administrators, custodians, engineers, para professionals, security guards, the members of the Board of Education, the board bureaucrats, mayoral control?

I would love to know what you were thinking about when you wrote that sentence.


Sharon Schmidt

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.