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In Defense of Bill Ayers



To the editors:

Ben Joravsky's story on Bill Ayers [November 9] reveals him to be a person of passionate beliefs and of extensive knowledge gained from many intense experiences. He is a leader whose charm and energy have not faded with maturity.

In response, a letter-writer from Hyde Park [November 30] called Ayers a "sellout" because, while actively advocating school reform, he doesn't send his children to public school. Does this charge amount to anything beyond mean-spirited political sniping?

Feeding your kids into a system that you consider to be a potentially brutalizing, mind-deadening mill is hardly a sign of commitment to public education or parental responsibility. The fact that Ayers dares not to be "politically correct" on this issue, one might conclude, augments his stature and the depth of his personality.

Unfortunately, however, the fact remains that many parents have no alternative but to send their children to the neighborhood public school. And that is precisely why what Ayers and other reformers are doing is so important. Schools need to be turned into centers of learning where students and teachers can freely pursue physical exertion, intellectual inquiry, personal and social growth. It's going to take leaders of vision and courage to accomplish this.

In so far as Bill Ayers is working honestly and effectively to rid Chicago of the bureaucratic and neanderthal mentalities that have disabled our public schools, he deserves all our support and encouragement.

Will Hartley

S. Dorchester

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