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[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
02/22/2012

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.



Sincerely,

Sharon Schmidt


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