Dear Ira Glass,
I am a big admirer of your work and I often use episodes of This American Life in my curriculum. Your recent two-part episode on Harper High School was of immense interest to me. I am a teacher here in Chicago, and have taught in Chicago Public Schools in both Englewood and Cabrini-Green. I am currently teaching at a high-performing non-selective high school on the Near West Side, where I have the opportunity to serve a student body made up of low-income minority students, many of whom are from the Englewood and other South Side neighborhoods. One student with whom I have become close over the last three years has multiple siblings who have graduated from Harper. I also lived with a Harper teacher during the 2010-2011 school year.
The stories of these students need to be heard, and your team did an admirable job of bringing compelling narratives to light for a national audience.
With that being said, I have to tell you that I was severely disappointed in the scope and focus of your broadcast. While I understand that you were interested in investigating the impact of violence on Harper, I was still stunned that education and learning were completely absent from a two-hour broadcast about a school. In the end, I believe that your coverage served to excuse many of the most harmful practices in our schools today and perpetuate some of the most harmful myths about urban education.