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.