While President-elect Obama’s choice of Arne Duncan to head the Department of Education has, by and large, earned accolades from conservatives, the current Chief Executive Office of the Chicago Public SchoolsÂ has done one thing which concern those of us who oppose the further Balkanization of America .
Duncan recently recommended the creation of the Social Justice High Schoolâ€”Pride Campus which would “address the needs of the underserved population of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth and their allies (LGBTQA youth).Â He pushed this “explicitly gay-friendly school” to keep “students from being bullied and ostracized” and “where half of the students were expected to identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”
Let’s hope gay activists and others join much of Chicago’s political establishment in opposing this new type of segregation.Â Shouldn’t our goal (and that of our supporters) be to find a place for gays to live openly in the mainstream of American society?Â Shouldn’t we focus on means to change the minds of those who would make life difficult for gay teens rather than encourage those teens to study separately, among those just like them?
While Duncan’s efforts are certainly well-intentioned, they are just one more sign how the agenda ofÂ the various minority groups have changed, from overturning laws and policies and changing attitudes which defined us by our difference to creating institutions which do just that–keeping members of various “minority” groups outside the mainstream.
I don’t think Duncan’s support for this school should disqualify him from being confirmed as Secretary of Education.Â But, his support should raise some red flags.Â Let’s hope Senators press him about this in his confirmation hearings.Â And let’s hope he doesn’t favor the further Balkanization of American society, with separate institutions for each and every interest group.
On the whole, it does seem has the knowledge, understanding and ability to promote real education reform.