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Yes, Black Parents Like School Choice Too

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

So now it’s Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates’ turn to be pilloried for sending a child to a private high school.

“That story sounds familiar,” said my very astute wife, a product of Chicago public schools.

It should sound familiar and not only in Chicago.

It has become a grand tradition in journalism and politics to uncover a high-profile official who is responsible for public schools, yet — oops! — puts their own offspring in a private school.

Confronted with the evidence, Davis Gates has confirmed reports that, despite her stated opposition to the allocation of public funds to pay for private schools, she and her husband send the oldest of their three children to a Catholic high school.

As a fellow parent, I sympathize. Besides, she’s hardly alone. In Chicago, I recall how former President Barack Obama, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Obama’s education secretary, among others, all had their wrists similarly slapped in public for putting their children in private schools.

 

And let’s not pick only on the politicians. Increasingly, I find evidence of Black folks, including my own family, friends and neighbors, who look favorably on the idea, including Black teachers.

Studies dating back to President Ronald Reagan’s conservative revolution in the 1980s, various university and think tank studies discovered sizable percentages of public school teachers also were sending their own children to private schools.

In Chicago, for example, a 2004 Fordham Institute study found that 39% of Chicago’s public school teachers sent their children to private schools, compared with a national average of 12% of all children who were educated privately.

But, to paraphrase Harry Truman, if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the classroom. Or the union hall.

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