Parental concern over Huberman unnecessary

By Molly Lynch

Every time I read stories about disputes in school systems, I often come to the realization that parents and students tend to do a bit of a role reversal. Like clockwork, as soon as a new policy emerges that causes a stir in a school, parents are usually the first to throw hissy fits, organize protests and make headlines as they incessantly and ignorantly whine about a topic they often don’t understand.

Not long after Mayor Richard M. Daley selected Ron Huberman to oversee the Chicago Public School system, the former Chicago Transit Authority president confirmed in a Chicago Sun-Times article that he was gay.

This didn’t come as a shock to many Chicagoans, and if it did, the news quickly evaporated into a slew of other Chicago-centric headlines that week. But just when it looked like the whole thing wouldn’t be an issue, parents had to make sure their ignorance was voiced, believing their child’s education is at stake under the administration of a gay CEO.

It’s no secret that Huberman doesn’t exactly have the strongest background in education reform. Prior to his presidential stint at the CTA, Huberman held a two-year position as Chief of Staff for Mayor Daley. Before that, he served in various positions for nine years at the Chicago Police Department. It’s not exactly the path one usually follows to pursue a career in education administration, but Huberman’s diversity of experience might just be what the CPS needs. However, despite Huberman’s array of credentials, not everyone is pleased.

On Feb. 4, Southtown Star columnist Fran Eaton suggested CPS create more “charter schools”-public schools specifically designed to meet the needs of students who require specialized types of education. She cited the example of a local school district that is contemplating a charter school for foster and adopted children. In the article, Eaton implies that gay students would also fall under this category. By confining these kids in their own environment, things would be better for everyone, right? Eaton was adamant that parents should have options when enrolling their kids in school.

I don’t know what’s more disturbing-the fact that parents are focusing on the issues that are completely irrelevant to their children’s education, or that people like Laurie Higgins of the Illinois Family Institute believe that Huberman’s sexuality is comparable to someone who practices incest or adultery. Higgins writes, “[Chicago students] deserve a leader who demonstrates discernment, wisdom and integrity in one of life’s most profound aspects: sexuality.”

Here’s a newsflash for concerned parents: when your child goes out into the real world one day, there will be gay people. There will be Jewish people, Islamic people, people with blue hair and people with tattoos. Lions, tigers and bears-oh my! Are you really going to lock them in their rooms until they are 25, sit them down and explain who all of these people are? Chances are, they are going to encounter all of this before you can brief them, and you might as well let them face it when they are at school.

Sit tight, parents. If you’re going to pick something to bludgeon Huberman with, stick to something substantial-like his actual job, perhaps? If you’re criticizing someone’s private life rather than their actual job performance, there’s no question who is the one with the real character flaw.