Paul Horton is a history teacher at the University of
Chicago Lab School, one of the nation’s finest private schools.
Because he has a keen understanding of history, he is outraged by
the assault on our nation’s public schools. He wrote the following
open letter to a large number of education writers. It should be
widely circulated:

Dear Country’s
Best Journalists,

I am a thirty year
educator and I am trying to send up a red flag to the press that
says: we are in need of good investigative reporting in education.
Too many editorial boards are parroting propaganda from
foundations, Daren Briscoe [Arne Duncan’s press secretary], and
Michelle Rhee.
Why didn’t John Merrow (PBS) connect the dots
on Rachel Maddow when he was given the opportunity? Valerie and Jay
at the Post are fair despite their differences, Ms. Rich at the
Times is beginning to see the big picture, Noreen does excellent
work at the Trib., Kate Grossman is open to listen at the
Sun-Times. Jimmy Kilpatrick at Education News is all over this
stuff as is Anthony Cody at Education Week. So is Jamie Gass in
Boston. Alan Singer at Hofstra is all over Pearson Education
(address copied) especially, and Joel Spring at NYU has the big
picture that everybody needs (go to Amazon). He also has some good
graphics that explain how education reform works even though it
doesn’t (contact him, he is copied, and put in a plug for his new
novel). MIke Shaughnessy at Education News (copied) has done some
great interviews with all of these folks. Christel in Utah (copied)
is a fiercely honest blogger who is a better investigative reporter
than anybody at this point. She might send you all of her research
if you ask nicely. Ben Javorsky at the Chicago Reader is a
fantastic reporter and writer (copied: joravben). For Chicago
Teacher’s Union (CTU) contact Stephanie Gadlin (copied). If you
would like to know why the Common Core Standards are not what they
are cracked up to be, contact a curriculum expert, Sandra Stotsky
(copied) I wish I could send you the e-mail address of my former
student who is the mayor’s chief of staff, but he only twitters, so
it is impossible to communicate………..
Brother (literal) Scott at Harper’s, you guys
need to do a feature story on this! The Atlantic’s publisher’s are
neo-liberals, so we don’t even go there (by the way, I write this
across from the Laboratory Schools in the cockpit of neoliberalism,
the Booth School of Business cafeteria, where all of the world’s
problems get solved, or messed up, depending on how much money you
make, of course).

Brothers (soul) Tavis
and Cornell, please step up on this issue!
On the left and center, we need Kat, Clarence,
and EJ to step up to the plate where Mr. Will is already batting
from the center-Burkean-right (he had a two home-run game last
week, but the Nats can not catch up to my Braves). Kat, I am going
by 53rd Street Coffee to talk Rick Perlrstein(sic) into talking to
you about talking to Krugman and Keller about taking in the right
wing extremist canard hook, line, and sinker. Somebody please send
this to the fearless Bill Moyers!
Ed Ayers, magnificent historian, President of
The University of Richmond, and brilliant and charming commentator
on “The History Guys,” please do a segment on the History of
Education that asks our brilliant scholar of Education and student
of the Lawrence Cremin, Diane Ravitch, to riff with the guys. And,
while I am at it, congratulations to one of my heroes who I am
proud to call my teacher (if only for a week), Ed, on receiving a
well-derserved National Humanities Medal! Ed, please tell these
guys that I am a teacher and very minor scholar with some
credibility and not some right-wing crank.
Diane Ravitch is my hero, she is brave,
fearless, a fellow Texan, and completely dedicated to righting the
ship of education in a very scary tempest. Please read her new book
(go to Amazon) and her blog!
All of us are up against about $50 billion
dollars (combined foundation money), money that can hire full time
Madison Street firms and money that talks to editors
people: does this seem familiar, Mr. Weingarten at the

I work for people who
are are the core of the Obama Administration, one of the
President’s best friends is the head of my school board. I am going
to have to be quiet for a while and trust you guys to stand up. I
have to read, write lesson plans, go to meetings, talk to parents,
talk my senior advisees, write a newsletter for the state history
teacher’s association, and, most importantly, try to motivate my
son to pass math. As Ed likes to say about the coming school year:
“the train is roaring down the track and we have to be ready for

Please listen to the
rail for the hundreds of thousands of teachers out there who can’t
talk. Please share with anybody who might listen if you feel this
is worth worth sharing.
All best,

Illinois Council for History
History Instructor
University High School
University of Chicago Laboratory Schools