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Education Wed Feb 04 2009
There are many excellent arguments in support of charter schools -- including nearly 17,000 in the form of students voluntarily enrolled in Chicago's charters from 2006-2007 -- but I've never encountered a bad one.
Today's Southtown Star features an opinion piece by Fran Eaton in which she suggests Chicago parents should support charter schools because incoming Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman is gay.
There are few choices for dissatisfied Chicago parents. Either move to another school district, find an alternate means of education for their children, or get over their concerns, accept homosexuality as normal and admit to themselves they are abnormal for thinking anything different...One way is to establish more charter schools.
Eaton quotes the director of the Illinois Family Institute's Division of School Advocacy, who thinks Huberman's appointment portends certain doom -- or gayness -- for CPS students:
"First, Huberman will be called upon to superintend issues related to how homosexuality is addressed in Chicago public schools," Higgins wrote. "Second, Huberman serves as a public role model. His open, unapologetic, unrepentant appropriation and affirmation of sexual deviance as morally defensible and central to his identity vitiates any legitimacy as premier educational leader in Chicago that his admirable qualities may have otherwise conferred on him."
(Hypothetically speaking, would Huberman be more acceptable as CPS's CEO were he to apologize for his sexuality? Just how silly is that question?)
According to Eaton and the IFI, Huberman's attraction to men makes it likely he will impose his sexuality on students from an office in downtown Chicago. All of this in a school system where administrators have been struggling to increase academic achievement for years. CPS students still perform below their extra-Chicago peers on the relatively easy ISAT--an average of 10 points lower according to the latest statistics.
Possessing such amazing powers of persuasion, Ron Huberman sounds like some kind of gay superman. Here's hoping he will consider using that same magic to further improve CPS students' test scores.
With a commitment to charters, he may do just that.
As CEO of the CPS, Huberman will oversee the expansion of charter schools in Chicago. His successful experience renegotiating union contracts during his time at the CTA -- saving a bunch of taxpayer money -- will be an asset in expanding school choice.
Differences in opinion on homosexuality between myself and Eaton notwithstanding, her claim that students at charter schools will be beyond his policy reach is just wrong.
Simply put, charter schools are excellent places of learning that produce superior test results and high graduation rates. That should be reason enough to support their work and expansion.
What a school administrator does in his private life has no impact on the ability of charters to innovate and students to achieve. Don't confuse the issues.