There were actually two segments on education-related issues last night on Chicago Tonight -- both of them well-intended and much-needed, but neither of them great.
The first, a roundtable with Elizabeth Brackett on the topic of social
networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, featured well-chosen non-pundit guests
in the form of the CPS principal from Taft who suspended kids for
making threats and lewd remarks about a teacher and a Medill student
who started an offensive Facebook group. Having folks on with real world experiences was worth it here, I'd say.
But the legal expert in the
middle couldn't or didn't really explain effectively where free speech rights start
and end for minors or college students, and so it all devolved into
anecdotes and scare tactics. Very unsatisfying. Threats of violence
aside, what rights do the public schools (or even private ones) have
monitoring and sanctioning off-campus Internet activity? Not many, I'm guessing. But you wouldn't know that from the segment.
The second, the Valuing Education segment, gets at the never-ending school funding debate through the notion that New Trier HS might donate some or all of the $3 million it's made by selling of a painting -- Picasso? Matisse? -- to a poor neighborhood school in Chicago, O'Keefe Elementary.
At first, the segment seems like it might devolve into another TFA love-fest, and indeed the piece's treatment of public schools is overly sentimental and unreflective. What would $3 million buy, anyway? Any sense that CPS or O'Keefe would put it to good use? What would $3 million do to the PPE for O'Keefe?
But the painting thing is a good angle -- somewhat fresh, obviously symbolic. Smart move by the New Trier folks not to appear on camera and to float the notion that the money might not be theirs to give away.
Filed under: Media Watch