I would like to commend you on the information shared in the Arena section of the March issue regarding elementary education choices for parents with young children ["It’s Elementary," Service Desk, by Jennifer Tanaka]. I was, however, disappointed that a quality option for parents was omitted: public charter schools.

Charter schools are an excellent option for parents because they offer longer school days, a longer school year, and a focused curriculum. Chicago International Charter School, the largest charter school in Illinois, offers full-day kindergarten and its mission is to provide, through innovation and choice, an attractive and rigorous college-preparatory education that meets the needs of today’s student. Approximately 6,500 students, from pre-K through 12th grade, are taught by 450 certified educators on 11 neighborhood campuses across the city. We will be opening our 12th campus at Loomis and 95th streets in August. This will be the first Chicago International campus focusing strictly on early childhood development
for the youngest students, in kindergarten through third grade.

There is no entrance exam for public charter schools, but parents must complete an application to have their child(ren) included in the lottery for open seats. For additional information, please visit our Web site at

Dr. Elizabeth D. Purvis
Executive Director
Chicago International Charter School

Editors’ note: "It’s Elementary" focused on the application process to the Chicago Public Schools lottery. Because each charter school conducts its own public lottery, we chose not to address the category in the article.



Richard Babcock omitted mention of another Chicago chapter in the life of Johnny Stompanato [American Gigolo, April]. In 1940-41, he was a student at Morgan Park Military Academy in Chicago and, according to the recollections of classmate Bill Getz, Johnny did not last the full year.

Stompanato was not popular and made few friends. "He came to MPMA with a chip on his shoulder, and he obviously was not there by choice," Getz wrote in the academy’s alumni magazine. "Military discipline was not his piece of cake."

One other curious note: Jerry Geisler, the "lawyer to the stars" who defended Cheryl Crane, attended the same school as Stompanato in 1904-1906, when Morgan Park Academy was the preparatory school for the University of Chicago.

Barry Kritzberg
Morgan Park Academy


The story [American Gigolo] brought back memories of the night Johnny Stompanato was murdered. We lived on Washington Street in Woodstock. Our phone rang probably sometime between four and five in the morning. Back then, the phone didn’t ring at that time of day.

On the line was Helen Merwin, wife of the funeral home owner, and my mother was her best friend. They had received a call from the family to start arrangements for getting the body back and a funeral service. I’m sure we were among the first to know about the incident.

One myth destroyed by the story was the Stompanato boy in our eighth grade class at Central Junior High School. I guess he couldn’t have been Johnny’s brother. It was his third year in eighth grade. He sat in the back of the room and said nothing. I wonder who he was.

Roni Hiscox Latchford
WCHS Class of 1954
Manhattan Beach, California



+ In the June article The Friends of O, Cass Sunstein’s middle initial was printed incorrectly in a caption. It is R.

+ In The Friends of O, the first African American elected to Congress in the 20th century was identified incorrectly. The distinction belongs to Oscar De Priest.



When campaign questions came up about the relationship between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, the sixties radical turned professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, we posted on our Web site an August 2001 Chicago profile of Ayers, No Regrets, by Marcia Froelke Coburn.

One element of the story particularly exercised readers, as it did when the story was first published: a Jeff Sciortino photo of Ayers standing on an American flag. The photo drew attention from Fox News, including the program Hannity & Colmes, and media organizations around the country followed suit. Traffic surged at the magazine’s Web site, much of it steered by right-wing blogs, including,, and Little Green Footballs.

Dozens of comments appeared on the site, the vast majority of them excoriating the ex-radical. "Ayers exhibits all of the stereotypic characteristics of a sixties liberal—self-righteousness, hypocrisy, hubris, and unrepentance," one said. "Hey, don’t be so hard on Bill Ayers. This is a free country. He is perfectly free to be an idiot," another offered. The activity slowed after a few days, as the campaign coverage turned—for the time being, anyway—to other matters. The story, along with the comments, is still available to read at (search for "Bill Ayers" or "No Regrets").