I want to add my two cents to Eric Zorn’s dissection of the Curie High principal flap in Tuesday’s Tribune. Zorn wishes school reform advocate Julie Woestehoff weren’t defending Curie’s Latino-dominated local school council by maintaining there’s a “legitimate” case to be made for its decision to boot Curie’s popular black principal, Jerryelyn Jones. If so, what is it? asks Zorn, who’s concerned that reformers, by lining up with the LCS, “are merely enabling the backlash likely to occur if the case against Jones later proves to be as weak and as mean as it looks today.” (Here’s coverage and another commentary on the LCS’s action.)
Woestehoff’s concern — and Zorn’s too, it seems — is that Mayor Daley and schools chief Arne Duncan want to exploit public indignation over the “crisis at Curie” by gutting the system that lets LSCs hire and fire principals. But to Zorn the present rules look like a “road map for the pursuit of personal vendettas” and could use some tinkering. That’s why he’d rather see Woestehoff and other movement leaders distance themselves from the Curie LSC and promote a compromise that lets LSCs go on firing principals but makes it harder to do.
If there’s no good defense for the Curie LSC, Woestehoff shouldn’t pretend there is one. But that doesn’t mean she should be trying to compromise. The one reasonable response to many a dicey situation that no one ever seems to speak up for, not even top-flight newspaper columnists, is — nothing. I think nothing might be a good idea here. In the name of preserving powers that other LSCs know what to do with, let Curie suffer and learn from its LSC’s mistakes. That’s democracy in action. When the public votes its fears and biases and elects an incompetent government, no one says it’s time to give the public a little less authority. Well, yes, actually some people do say that, but the rest of us don’t listen.