PetitionIt’s unfortunate that the Chicago Tribune, which employs many first rate reporters covering news and politics, has an editorial board that is committed to advancing the agenda of those who wish to privatize public education. There is supposed to be a wall between editorial and news but, at the Tribune, there are holes in that wall. That’s why IEA members are encouraged to sign  a petition protesting the paper’s attacks on teachers and public education.

The paper’s  editorial philosophy is regularly promoted in overblown front page stories that unfairly and inaccurately attack public education and education employees. Here’s the latest example.

The strategy is simple: run as many front page stories as possible talking down public schools, implying classrooms are typically staffed by under qualified and overcompensated teachers.  It’s a lie, of course, but the theory is that, if public support of our public schools can be reduced, the goals of the privateers can be achieved.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers observed that the Tribune seems to have blind spots about schools they support, such as charters in the City of Chicago

In Chicago, only 75% of teachers at a charter school must be licensed, and the school has three years to hit that bar. Where is the Tribune’s outrage? This could be an opportunity to demand more transparency and accountability, and investigate if the charters were making a priority out of hiring licensed teachers, doing the bare minimum, or worse – finding ways to get around the threshold.

The Tribune celebrates charters even though the State Board of Education’s 2013 review of Illinois schools shows that students in traditional public schools demonstrate better or equal academic performance than those in charter schools.

In many cases where teachers taught outside of their license, they did so due to the miles of ever-changing requirements they must navigate to have a piece of paper reflecting their expertise.

When the Tribune looked into whether legislators were handing out licenses as political favors, their investigation came up with nothing. The insinuation was that there was something scandalous about a citizen asking his or her elected representative for help working through state procedures. (It’s no wonder they need help, by the way, when public services and the government agencies who manage these procedures are so understaffed and underfunded.)

Read this critical review of this story here.

The Tribune has yet to write a takedown of the “Teach for America” program that has been around since 1990 and places recent college grads in some of the neediest schools to teach for two years without a license.

The Tribune has been silent on the disconnect between state and national requirements that mean teachers who are “highly qualified” under the federal No Child Left Behind may not have their Illinois licenses. Perhaps following a few teachers through the red tape could show the public how dysfunctional the system that teachers must navigate to serve their students is.

IFT has a petition asking the Tribune to stop attacking teachers. IEA members are encouraged to sign it.