If only the students at Lincoln Park High were on the school board | Bleader

If only the students at Lincoln Park High were on the school board


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Lincoln Park High School, 1981
For the record, my official stance on students skipping school to participate in political protest is no, no, no!

They should spend every waking minute of every day dutifully doing whatever it is that they're told to do so that they can go on to become something really important—like mayor or school board member. In which case they can randomly close schools, fire teachers, and impose harebrained curriculum on unsuspecting students.

Like that wall-to-wall IB nonsense Mayor Emanuel's shoving down everyone's throat.

Wait—that didn't come out right. What I meant to say is . . .

I know columnists are supposed to editorialize against students walking out of school for any reason, including political protests.

But I find something irresistibly noble about last week's protest at Lincoln Park High School, where roughly 300 students walked out to support the eight teachers Mayor Emanuel and the local principal seem determined to fire.

The kids were gone for only a half hour or so. They made some speeches and went back to class. So think of it like a pep rally—in support of their teachers.

And what's wrong with that?

It was my my favorite student walkout since 2010, when hundreds of kids poured out of several high schools to protest Mayor Daley's really bad idea to save money by firing teachers and raising class size.

To his credit, Mayor Daley retreated from that bad idea in the face of protests from parents, teachers, and students.

In contrast, Mayor Emanuel hardly ever retreats from any bad idea. In fact, he's gearing up to take the dumbest idea Mayor Daley ever had—selling the parking meters—and make it even worse.

Stop him, City Council—before it's too late!

I believe Mayor Emanuel should commend the Lincoln Park High School students. If critical thinking is as important to him as he says it is, he must give those students credit for being way ahead of the game.

In fact, let's hope those students are an inspiration to the Chicago school board members who are expected to obediently rubber-stamp the mayor's orders—like the good soldiers that they are—to close 54 schools.

Even though everyone from hearing officers to parents say that's a dangerously bad idea.

My larger hope is that the appreciation young Chicagoans have for their teachers is a sign of things to come.

I'm hoping it becomes sort of like the favorable attitude young people have toward gay marriage. At the moment, it's old fogies who are fighting so hard against gay marriage. Most young people—even some of the Republican persuasion—support it.

Similarly, it's old fogies—like Mayor Emanuel—who cling to the fantasy that the way to produce great students is to degrade and humiliate their teachers.

In time perhaps this bash-the-teacher philosophy will look as ridiculous and absurd as the opposition to gay marriage. At which point everyone from Mayor Emanuel to Arne Duncan to Bill Gates will "evolve" to a new worldview toward teachers.

And soon every school system—even CPS—will treat teachers with as much respect as the University of Chicago Lab School.

And we can pretend this teacher-bashing idiocy never happened.