Video: CTU's Credibility Problem

Much has been made of the credibility problems that CPS and City Hall have created for themselves over the past two years (if not longer) thanks to limits on information, misrepresentation of information, and wildly misleading ways of talking about things (budget cuts = enhancements, for example).

At the same time, behind the scenes mostly, there's been a second discussion about misleading information coming from CTU -- before and during the strike and since then.

However, I've never seen it discussed publicly until Friday's WTTW Week In Review. The education segment begins at the 16:00 minute mark, and then at the 19:50 mark Fox 32 News' Mike Flannery goes off on how CTU "willfully, willfully misrepresents a lot of what goes on. They know they're misrepresenting and lying on occasion when they make some of these arguments [about the construction money only going to better-off schools]."

No big deal -- just one guy's opinion.  But it's the first time I've seen it said out loud by a journalist, and -- my own opinion here -- it's something that journalists need to be on the lookout for just as much with CTU as with CPS or City Hall.


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  • Alexander even though Mike Flannery has drunk the Kool-Aid by going to work for Fox, none the less he did admit if the CTU was distorting capital spending issues then so was Mayor Emanuel. Really since Kate Grossman knows CPS the best of those on the panel her comments were the most interesting I thought.

    Particularly the discussion involving the issue of a two tier public education system. Apparently meaning one the upper middle class and another for the poor. I would argue that the situation is actually much more complex than that.

    I would argue that for the most part SE high schools and elementary schools (including magnet) benefit more higher income families than those families in poverty. Some deeply poor children do however benefit. I think the limited data we have on these schools just using free and reduced lunch data reflects that.

    But then it gets far more complex, for example we have groups of charter schools that seem to recruit children more often from intact families even if lower income and charters that seem to be enrolling students from less stable families who are also lower income. Part of the difference seems to be the geographic location of the charter schools themselves.

    Then we have traditional schools that have intake areas largely composed of working class families and traditional schools composed of families in deep poverty where family members are more often than not living on various forms of public assistance. We also have many traditional schools with combinations of working and families in deep poverty. Then we have traditional schools with higher and lower percentages of students with disabilities in addition to poverty factors.

    Lastly we have some traditional north side elementary schools with intake areas that have higher income families. Some of these schools also have different percentages of students with disabilities. So instead of a two tier system I would argue we have a complex matrix that in mathematics would probably be called a square matrix. The situation with Chicago's public education system is more complex than a two tier system.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    "Like" button.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Discussing CPS as a two tier system might have been more accurate before charters became significant. Poor educational outcomes of the capable but non-elite portion of the student population has perhaps been the primary driver of alternate schools.

    Parents are understandably disinterested in their children performing the function of role models in low performing schools.

  • thanks, rod -- the difference to me is that CPS's misrepresentations are frequently and publicly discussed online and in the media, and CTU's aren't (at least to my knowledge).

    attacking flannery's reputation and integrity seems unlike you -- much more my style :-)

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Alexander I suspect you would have reservations going to work for FOX and News Corporation owned by Rupert Murdoch. I understand that CBS was cutting its highest paid staff and Mike Flannery was effectively on the chopping block when he went to work for FOX. Susan Carlson got wacked not long ago by CBS after being its morning anchor, but at least she opted to go back to street level reporting WMAQ as a freelance reporter. No doubt also she was less marketable and did not have the power house agent Flannery had.

    The editorial control exerted by News Corp over FOX in a very real way drives Flannery's reporting in the Chicago context. Part of that control is a general hostility to public sector unions and support for a hyper free market ideology. I would argue that New Corp puts forward more editorial control over FOX than even some of its print outlets. Flannery had other options, he is not a poor guy and we don't need to have tag days for him. I honestly feel the same way about Bob Sirott. These media stars have other choices than selling themselves to Rupert Murdoch.

    But having said that I think on her worst day Kate Grossman is a much more astute observer of city hall and CPS than Mike Flannery was even when at CBS.

    Rod Estvan

  • I would argue there is a huge difference between local FOX affiliates and the national. I cannot watch FOX News for a second, they make my blood boil, but the local FOX 32 is very in-depth and honest in their reporting (I believe). It's the only newscast that's an hour, which allows them to dive deeper into stories, and their reporters are legit (Bob Sirot, Robin Robinson, Flannery, etc).

    As a watcher of education issues in Chicago, I think Mike Flannery is right. We have a system that doesn't question labor very much, which I think is a shame. Power corrupts all over the place, whether elected to public office or the head of a $25 million operation called the Chicago Teachers Union. I don't blame the CTU for crying foul on everything or spinning something to rile up their members, but I would hope they get called out more for it to keep everyone honest (just like Rahm deserves to as well).

  • In reply to Interested Citizen:

    We can agree to disagree, but I see the local FOX stations as largely following the editorial lead of News Corporation. WGN has an hour long 9pm local news also which is not much more profound than FOX.

    But how is Bob Sirot a former DJ legit? From 1973 until 1980 all he did was top 40 rock? Or how about Sirot's role on CBS's West 57th that the Christian Science Monitor called “a ditsy, disco-beat docu-mag for viewers with a short attention span.” Sirot did go to Roosevelt High School back in the late 60s when I was at Lake View, but does that make him legit as a journalist?

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    i think the issue is whether the claim has substance -- whether CTU (like CPS) makes false claims or misrepresents issues to the members or public -- not where flannery works now.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    The sheer volume of unquestioned nonsense that consistently spews forth from CPS is enormous. Journalists and blogsters like Russo propagate CPBS as a matter of course. Whatever alleged misleading information CTU is responsible for would be a mere fraction of that coming from 125 S. Clark.

    Claiming that the crap coming from CPS and CTU is on par is totally dishonest. The real ratio is probably 10:1. You can't blame CTU for possibly putting out false info* when the local media dutifully reports CPS press releases as news.

    *Give me a complete list of CTU and CPS lies. Then we can discuss them Common Core style.

  • fb_avatar

    AR, you often make these equivalency arguments.

    1. I think everyone should be transparent and I would love to see the list that the previous poster asks for. "Balanced" doesn't mean "talk smack about both sides"; it means that we are critically analyzing both sides.

    2. Far more critically, some might say CPS has a much greater responsibility to be transparent and honest--it is a taxpayer funded branch of city governance. I'm not much for legalism, but often when CPS spins or lies it could be viewed that they are breaking state law. And not some bogus laws, but basic fundamental, building blocks of democracy laws like the FOIA or Open Meetings act.

    That said, the public is not something for either side to spin. I'd love full transparency; hopefully accompanied by democratic governance (which the CTU side certainly already has in structure).

  • I am astounded that anyone thinks that Flannery is unbiased. He attacked CTU and other unions for years. He has opposed every raise for teachers going back to the Duncan years and beyond. Flannery has used Chicago Tonight and Week In Review as pillbox to blast organized labor. Flannery's move to Fox seemed a perfect fit. Moreover, Russo using Flannery as a credible source just shows how far to the right this site has become. I surprised Tea Party adds and links are not posted to the right of this blog.

  • Headache299
    It is astounding…I am also astounded that anyone thinks Grossman is unbiased.
    Grossman is most frequently an apologist for Emanuel and CPS central… I don’t care how ‘knowledgeable’ she is. Grossman’s answer to the homicide question was that the weather is out of our control. Well how does that fit in with Flannery’s statistics that seems to have evaded this discussion-board:

    Flannery points out, “81 or 82 or 83 percent of the murder victims this year are African American. In a city this about one-third African American. You know how many white people have been murdered this year? Five! Five! We have something in the order of three hundred African Americans and about sixty or seventy Latinos. So the typical murder victims is young black male. The average age is about twenty-five, and gang affiliated.”

    So then how are we to interpret these statistics? If the all ‘objective’ Grossman is right, well then black people in Chicago better not be exposed to warm weather… hot weather apparently makes black people kill…and as Grossman said earlier, the weather is “out of our control”…well, then black homicide is apparently also out of our control, and, as Grossman stressed, the city cannot afford all the extra police devoted to the problem…in other words, stop throwing money at it! Besides, Grossman points out, homicide is down ‘considerably’ from last year! You know, the ‘context’.

    And given Flannery’s wedding vows to FOX, can we interpret his data analysis to suggest that white people need not worry…rest assured, after all, three hundred blacks but only five whites were murdered and that’s pretty good! Right!?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Kate's discussion about the correlation between warmer weather and higher murder rates in the city seems to have an empirical basis. I have never seen any reporter claim that the vast bulk of those murdered are not African-Americans.

    What all reporters seem to avoid is the links between this violence and the flood of drugs being shipped into Chicago by Mexican cartels. The DEA has repeatedly drawn these links, but reporters continue to talk about gang shootings as if they are totally random and can be addressed by gun control.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    True about the weather empirical basis, and possibly true about the Mexican cartel. Then why is it that the Mexican cartels are not causing whites to shoot one another? White people sell, buy and use drugs, too! But according to Flannery, only five were murdered. And why only sixty or seventy Latinos murdered? Weather and Mexican cartels may be part of the puzzle. What are the missing pieces?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Right now in many suburban communities there is massive white drug use. A big percentage of the purchases take place in Chicago on the street by small level white dealers and individual white drug users. Suburban drug dealers do not operate in open air markets and are not fighting over geographic locations, Also the number of whites involved in the drug trade as a percentage of their population would appear to be far lower than in Chicago's African-American community because the youth unemployment rate is so much lower.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    "but reporters continue to talk about gang shootings as if they are totally random and can be addressed by gun control."

    I wonder why reporters seem so "clueless," as if they don't know the basics about sociology, psychology or economics.

  • These reporters are people. I'd like to know a bit about their backgrounds and current situations that might shed light on their POV and understanding of Chicago education, violence, etc.

  • Headache299
    Using the combined logic of both Flannery and Grossman one must conclude that
    “disinvestment within Chicago’s black communities is both cost effective and, at least for whites, is relatively safe”

    As Flannery sums up the argument:
    “When you do the granular analysis there is less collateral damage than you think”

  • I"m donating to wttw. At least we have some discussion on this show about the CPS vs CTU. Even though it's parent PBS seems more biased to the reformers side, I think 11.1 2 and 3 are good TV.

  • In reply to cklaus76:

    Why bother to donate to WTTW?
    WTTW frequently has guests from FOX, CBS, NBC, WGN etc.
    How frequently does FOX, CBS, NBC, WGN, etc., have guests from WTTW?
    Seems to me that t WTTW has donations aplenty!
    My mistake… they call them ‘underwriters’

  • Grossman consistently (and weakly) shills for Emanuel. Flannery's bizarre two-tone hairline/comb over/patchy beard make him LITERALLY difficult to watch. That face/head combo is absolute murder. Couple that with his spit takes and I'm flipping the channel to QVC, the Christian Network, absolutely ANYTHING.

  • Apparently CTU's credibility problem boils down to some obnoxious baldo Fox Newser's loudmouth "opinion." No wonder Alex exaggerates Flannery's verbal effluent as a harbinger of wider debate. Our resident beardo is looking more and more like comb over Mike everyday.

  • The comments here are always a revelation . . . look CTU and CPS are as bad as one another. CTU is shameless about it and that's probably the only difference. It's easy being the outsider trying to stick it to the man, people forgive you more. But the stuff they put out as "research" and the headlines of their press releases would make Hearst blush from the grave at his own relatively timid efforts in yellow journalism.

    Perhaps Flannery and Russo need better barbers but they ain't wrong about this.

  • CTU represents teachers who spend the entire school day teaching and interacting with children. City Hall/CPS/BoE is composed of corporate castoffs, m/billionaires, bankers, Wall Street criminals, hacks, and most importantly people who spend absolutely NO time with children. That said, if you think CTU is somehow "as bad" as CPS than you are a complete corporate tool.

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