Leaving Edison: One Parent's Decision [edited]

Comments
and emails keep pouring in about parents desperate to figure out a
public school option for their children, only to have to go with
private schools or a backup plan. 

Read below for one parent's story about what happened to her
daughter at Edison, and keep writing in with your experiences and
questions about the challenges Chicago faces for parents.

NB:  This entry and some of the reader comments that follow have been edited to remove details that might identify the individuals involved. 
LETTER:  

My daughter was admitted to Edison Gifted in 19XX.  

After a month and a half we decided to take her out.  We returned her to the pre-primary school where she had started from since age 2 and a half.   A little girl in her Edison classroom had molested her repeatedly and when we tried on several occasions to protect our daughter, the administration just did not get it.  The other little girl it turns out was being molested by her mother's boyfriend. They lived in our neighborhood and the boyfriend started calling my daughter on the phone.  It was very scarey especially when my husband and I went to the police (I was afraid to let her play out in the yard) and the school would not own up to any problems with the children.  

I was getting my master's at the time and my professor suggested a therapist for me who specifically worked with educators.  My daughter throughout her childhood had therapy when she needed it (understanding what had happened at Edison, our divorce when she was ten years old, teenage angst, etc.)  She has incredible communication skills probably because I wasn't going to let her out there alone in the world if she needed to talk through something.    
  
Anyway, after my child returned to [her original school], my husband, my therapist and I met with the District Superintendent and a CPS child psychologist he brought with him and they apologized.  I never sued.  Edison at the time had teachers who were hired for their content knowledge and not for their understanding of developmental issues with small children.  I actually liked her teacher and feel she didn't get the support she needed to handle the situation.  I also realize that our experience with Chicago Public Schools is uncommon.  

All worked out exceptionally well for my daughter.  I concentrated on raising my child and doing a good job as a teacher taking care of other people's children, grateful that Near North was taking good care of mine.  My daughter's father made a good living and with encouragement, he paid his part for her education.  She went to [her original school] then XX high school and finally XX University.  I am very proud of her.   
  
I read the Lottery article and all of these memories flooded over me.  I was so torn at the time because we had to decide whether to take her out of the school or insist that the other child be removed.  I decided the other child IDENTIFIYING DETAIILS REMOVED would get lost without the opportunity Edison afforded her (and her mother) and my husband just wanted us to get our daughter out of there.  Edison, from what I heard over the years, took very good care of the other child and she graduated.   And Montessori gave her an environment where she could grow at her own pace and express herself in her own unique style.  Because I'm a SCHOOL NAME parent I'm not sure about public gifted education but that's another story. 
  
I learned through this experience how important schools are to children and their families and that I have an important responsibility to do my best as a parent and a teacher.  I keep working at it.  

CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIDEO

Comments

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  • from someone who identifies herself as a current edison parent:

    Alexander,

    I've been reading and enjoying, for the most part, the info you post on your site, but this recent post on "Leaving Edison" is ridiculous. First, the catchy heading. Since I have a child at the school, I thought, "Okay, who is leaving?"

    Then I read it. You've got to be kidding me! This is ancient! That administration is no longer there. I don't see any relevancy to 2009 other than to slander a good school. Come on. Edison took enough of a beating last year with the move.

    I feel for the parent involved, but that could happen at any public school.

    Please, I'm requesting you withdraw this post.

    Sincerely,

    Shari Hosp

    parent of a 5th grader

  • hi, shari --

    readers write in about all sorts of things, and by and large i like to share whatever's on peoples' minds.

    the post isn't really about edison, it's about the struggle of parents to find a good school for their kid -- sorry i should have been clearer about the context here.

    it's a response to the stories last week about just how scarce spots are in competitive CPS schools, the role of clout, and what parents do:

    http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/district-299/2009/07/clout-admissions-nothing-new-for-cps.html

    http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/district-299/2009/07/cps-clout-scandal-update.html

    the relevant questions here might be whether kids get clouted into edison rather than being taken off the waiting list, and whether the school demographics match the demographics of those who apply.

    maybe you or someone reading this knows the answers?

    -- alexander

  • Alexander,
    I am an Edison parent of a 4th grader and I have to admit that before I read any of these comments I reacted the same way Shari did. The story has NOTHING TO DO with competitiveness or clout...it has to do with a little girl who was sadly molested by a troubled student who was troubled at home.

    The story is sad, but it sounds REALLY BAD for Edison, ESPECIALLY if the reader decides to skip the date of the admission.

    I agree with Shari's request...I ask that you change the title...

    This woman (and yes she went through hell and I wouldn't wish it on anyone) was remembering Edison because her daughter tested in there at lottery time....she also could have tested into Decatur or won a Hawthorne spot....
    Had she won a lottery spot at an up and coming school (and not yet so high on the radar so that it really held no clout yet), would that school's name had been so important to use in the headline?

    Respectfully, as I love your column,
    Terri

  • to my daughter's childhood friend:

    I am the mother that wrote the letter to Mr. Russo. I did not know it would become or remain a blog. I apologize that I have harmed you.

    I also apologize to the people from your school and childhood who care for you very much. I apologize to your mother, who loves you.

    I struggle every day to forgive myself for writing the letter. May you have wisdom, support and strength to become whole again from wounds this blog causes you.

    You deserve great healing, prosperity and love in your life. Leave this piece of online journalism and live the good life intended for you with loved ones. Many prayers are with you.

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