As filmmakers Greg Jacobs and Rachel Pikelny of Siskel/Jacobs Productions set out to make a documentary about issues facing public education in the Chicago, one phrase kept coming up.
“The worst in the nation.”
That description of Chicago Public Schools is attributed to U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett following a 1987 visit to Chicago.
Bennett probably never said it, and it probably never was true, but the phrase stuck, according to the filmmakers. They wondered why that was, and what it would take to overcome that label.
Those were the questions at the heart of an event Tuesday night at the Chicago History Museum that included a lively and wide-ranging panel discussion and the premiere of “Chicago Schools: The Worst in the Nation?”
“I don't think Chicago schools are as bad as people think they are – but I don't think they're as good as a lot of people would like to say they are," said panelist William A. Sampson, a professor of public policy at DePaul University.
The 10-minute documentary and event, “Chicago School Reform: Then and Now,” are part of The School Project, a six-part documentary Web series created by a collaboration of Chicago filmmakers and live events running through April 2015. All are designed to promote community engagement around education policy.
For the rest of the story, read 'Worst in the nation? Project looks at issues in Chicago schools.
Photo credit: The School Project.