Board Of Ed Boot Licker

It occurs to me that some of you reading this site lately might think (or have been told by others to think) that I am a reliable union critic who regularly takes City Hall’s side — an Emanuel defender, a Board of Education boot licker. (No one’s actually said that, but I like the sound of it.)

For those of you who are new to the site, that would be somewhat understandable. But the site’s been around a long time, and filled a variety of useful functions over the years.  Read on for my thoughts, then share your own. (Or read on but pretend you didn’t, so that nobody thinks you’re soft.)

I’ve made no real attempt to hide the fact that I thought the strike was unnecessary and personality-driven (rookie hotheads on both sides) and more circus than substantive fix to Chicago’s biggest education problems.  It felt good, I get that, and that’s fine.  But it wasn’t my thing.

I also don’t think much of the work of George Schmidt, Mike Klonsky, or Julie Woestehoff, three of the main online voices out there channeling teachers’ rage against the machine.

For some of you, disagreement on such a momentous moment as this is disqualifying, and you trust Schmidt/Klonsky/Woestehoff more than me.  I know and like Mike personally but I think their writings are angry, intellectually dishonest, and misguided.  Still I get it.  If you’re not with me, you’re against me.  Never Read Russo Again.

Indeed, there are lots of other places to go that will be far less aggravating to read. This site is designed to irritate pretty much everyone a couple of times a year. I collect and share information and opinion about CPS whether I agree with it or not. Whichever side seems to think it’s shit doesn’t stink gets a healthy does of skepticism.

For the record, those of you who are newer here, this site has been around in various forms for almost eight years now, and during that time it’s included a lot of information and commentary that hasn’t been at all favorable to City Hall or the Board.

For example, I’ve raised questions about charter quality and expansion plans, and slammed charter schools for being hypocritical about collective bargaining (among other things.  I was one of the first to highlight the fact that Renaissance 2010 was going to include lots of school closings.

Then there are all the school-specific blog posts I’ve written — the Pulaski takeover, the ouster of the Ravenswood principal. Gunsaulus, Reavis. Pritzker.  Andersen. Fenger.  Culture of Clam (not my line, but I promoted the hell out of it).  The Do Not Hire list. On a few of these we broke the blog’s commenting system.

Sure, there are also some things that I could do better at — making reporting calls and filling out FOIA requests, interacting with commenters (a recent commenter pointed this out and it’s totally true).  My kingdom for an RSS feed from Substance so that I can include it more often (if only to mock it).

The reality is that I can’t spend as much time on the site as I’d like (or used to), and there are others who are doing a great job at digging up new news at least some of the time.  But I’m still committed to the site and I could go on and on with things I’m proud of  — the anonymous comments and email tips, the night-time and weekend blogging (and tweeting) that I don’t think anyone else does.  The calls I get from teachers and parents with a problem that I try and help with (often by asking readers what to do). There are lots of flaws, to be sure, but there are some things that I do that other folks still don’t do

So there you have it.  Keep reading.  Go away and never come back.  Stay here and scream at me in comments all day.  I guess I’m OK with any of those outcomes.  But my first choice would be for you to stay, share your perspective, send in the occasional tip or tidbit, and argue with me when I’m wrong knowing that I might be right the next day.

NB: Edited slightly to make the first few sentences more interesting.

Filed under: Media Watch, Site News


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  • Ugh... I used to really like you Alex... but you've changed. You essentially admit it yourself when you say that it is understandable for new visitors to the blog to view you as a boot licker. You've turned into a stooge for corporate reform.

    I don't know when it occurred exactly, though it seems to coincide with your increasingly disheveled look and scragilly beard. Maybe it was a slow burn, but over the past 6-12 months you've certainly jumped the shark. You used to be "fair and balanced". Sure, we had our differences in the past, but at least you were consistent. Trust us, your longtime readers, your posts are pretty one-sided nowadays. If that beard of yours gets any longer, you might as well sign up as a lobbyist for Michelle Rhee's school deform organization or as a speechwriter for Arne Duncan.

    You can talk sheet about George and Mike and the other guys. Call them lapdogs, call them pansies, call them angry, but they haven't thrown in the towel and joined up with the powers that be. You have. You are a sellout.

    I think we're going to have to break-up Alex. I used to really like you but you've changed. Most of your other readers say so too. I know you are in denial, but it is the truth. You're nothing but a blogster with an addiction to website hits. Until you face this addiction your reputation as journalist will suffer. Get help now... and for gawds sakes buy a razor.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    beards are the new goatees, baby. everbody's got one.

  • I will stick around.

  • I appreciate this site and will certainly stick around. I think this strike has been very polarizing and the pro union will accuse anyone who has a slightly or very different opinion. Good for Alex for brining different views into the ususally one sided poster commentary. I think it is good to hear both sides and be balanced with facts and data. Less about emotion. However, this strike was very emotional and I think that has been evident in the blog posts.

  • I'm sorry, but I visit this site not at all for Russo's personal posts/commentary, but rather just for its blog (Web log) function/service. I appreciate the aggregating of links to various ed news/info. So, ultimately, Russo's POV is irrelevant for me. I don't view him as a journalist, and I have very low expectations of most local and national journalists, given how poorly they cover ed news. However, comments from RP, Estvan, and some others are very important to me. It's also interesting to me to hear the POV of all the various commenters, even those who seem less informed. I like knowing what's out there.

  • I hadn't really considered Alexander's personal opinion on anything - I just like having easy links to ed news stories and blog posts, and I like reading the comments. Rod Estvan is the best commenter on Earth and he only posts here - totally worth visiting for.

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