1989 Chicago Newspaper Education Page & Key Administrators Group

I served as Chair of the Education Committee of the City Club of Chicago from 1980 to 1889. During these years members of the Committee undertook the task of strengthening Chicago's educational future. Its members came from public, private and parochial school settings. 

Following the success of the 400,000 copy 1988 Sun-Times "Get out the vote for LSC elections" supplement, the idea of media-based school reform began to take hold among top level elementary and secondary education administrators in Chicago. In time the Committee was able to convene the three senior administrators of Chicago's three major school systems, public, non-public and parochial.

First Charles Almo, Interim Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools and then, after him, CPS General Superintendent Manfred Byrd agreed to meet with Archdiocese of Chicago Schools Superindent Sr. Mary Bryan Costello to explore ways of getting a message of unity directly to all Chicagoans via the city's print and electronic media. Joining these adminstrators was Alvin VandenBosch, Chair of the Illinois Advisory Council of Non-Profit Schools (IACNPS)

In 1980 the Key Administrators met privately as a group of three. They committed to a series of media-based, public meetings aimed at focusing Chicagoans on the city's educational future. In three brief, ten-minute talks, the administrators planned to discuss the past, present and future of education in Chicago. Their talks would cover the past conflicts among the three systems, the decision to work for unity that marked the present, and the potential for growth in a future where all three systems were unified in the interests of Chicago's children. Their first presentation, scheduled to take place at Loyola University in the fall of 1980, was postponed due to a teachers' strike. The subsequent loss of CPS Superintendent Manfred Byrd and his replacement in 1981 by Ruth Love, an outsider (from Oakland), marked the end of this unifying project just when it was on the point of making a potentially historic contribution to education in Chicago.

In 1984, it organized a half-day luncheon event, "The City Club Looks at the Educational System" featuring an address by CPS Superintendent Ruth Love and two panel groups with four experts in each group discussion school finance and school issues. 

In 1989, in cooperation with the Citizens Schools Committee, the Committee helped to organize the first-ever Mayoral Candidates Forum on Education.
1989 Oct 6

The Key Administorators group helped to formulate the Chicago Education Page, a 22-page proposal, written by Steve Sewall, for an ongoing reader-participatory newspaper education section, comparable to a business or sports page. The proposal was submitted to Chicago's three daily newspapers:
  • Chicago Sun-Times. Publisher Charles Price commented that "There is much food for thought here" and forwarded the proposal to several Sun-Times staff members. But the paper was sold to outside interests before the Key Administrator group could meet with him. Here is the cover page of our proposal, with his note to his staff initialed "C.P.". 
  • Chicago Tribune. Publisher Jim Squires met all with three members of the Key Administrators group and Steve Sewall. He bluntly told us that a Chicago Education page "would be a waste of your time and my paper". His rationale was that the typical Tribune subscriber lives in suburbs, takes home delivery, has 2.2 children enrolled in quality suburban public schools, and has no interest in Chicago schools.
  • Chicago Defenderno response.