Illinois Loop
Your guide to education in Illinois
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The Illinois Loop website is no longer updated on a a regular basis. However, since many of the links and articles have content and perspectives that are just as valid today, we are keeping this website online for parents, teachers and others researching school issues and solutions.
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Needless Conflicts

    "a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time"

    "The disagreement is clear. But why does everyone assume that we must settle it through an ideological death-match in the town square?"

    Herbert Bayard Swope, an editor, journalist and the first recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for reporting, once said, "I can't give you a sure-fire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure: try to please everybody all the time."

    That succinctly explains the anger resulting from bureaucrats telling families that all children in this area must go to this school and all children in that area must go to that school, which means that each school must try to please all of the parents whose children it serves, despite their widely different needs and goals.


  • Why We Fight: How Public Schools Cause Social Conflict by Neal McCluskey, policy analyst, Center for Educational Freedom. "... Rather than bringing people together, public schooling often forces people of disparate backgrounds and beliefs into political combat. This paper tracks almost 150 such incidents in the 2005-06 school year alone. Whether over the teaching of evolution, the content of library books, religious expression in the schools, or several other common points of contention, conflict was constant in American public education last year."

  • Public Education and the Liberal Way of Conflict By Christopher Chantrill, American Thinker, February 1, 2007. "Back in the old days, say about the time that Tocqueville was marveling at Americans and their voluntary associations, Americans educated their children in what we would now call diverse ways. There were public schools. There were charity schools. There were city academies. Schooling was a complete mish-mash, but Americans were about 90 percent literate, and parents could educate their children at the school of their choice. Then along came Horace Mann with a better idea. He persuaded the people of Massachusetts to centralize and rationalize their schools into a state-run system.. His idea would help unify the people and it would cut crime, he predicted. In fact, ... it set the people at each others' throats. When there is only one system of education then people must enter the political arena to fight for their beliefs. And too often politics is winner-take-all."

  • A Call for Separation of School and State by Jeff Jacoby, Columnist, Boston Globe, March 4, 2007. Excerpts: "US District Judge Mark Wolf's decision in Parker v. Hurley ... dismiss[ed] a suit by two Lexington couples who objected to lessons the local elementary school was teaching their children. ... "As Wolf's straightforward language makes plain, it doesn't much matter what that subject might be ... "diversity" instruction ... same-sex marriage ... traditional definition of wedlock ... guns ... the Second Amendment and armed self-defense ... Darwinism and intelligent design ... race ... affirmative action ... As Wolf applied the law, the result would have been the same: The complaint would have been dismissed, and the school would have prevailed. ...
        "Parker v. Hurley ... was a reminder that on many of the most controversial subjects of the day, public schools do not speak for the whole community. When school systems deal with issues of sexuality, religion, politics, or the family, there is always an overriding agenda -- the agenda of whichever side has greater political clout. Parents who don't like the values being forced down students' throats have two options. One is to educate their children privately. The other is to find enough allies to force their own values down students' throats. ...
        "On any number of fundamental issues, parents today are sharply divided, and there is no way a government-run, one-curriculum-fits-all education system can satisfy all sides. ... So long as education is controlled by the state, the battles and bad blood will continue. With more liberty will come more tolerance -- and more resources spent on learning than on litigation."

  • Separating School and State by Jeff Jacoby, Columnist, Boston Globe, June 12, 2005. Excerpts: "From issues of sexuality and religion to the broad themes of US history and politics, public opinion is fractured. ... No longer is there a common understanding of the mission of public education. To the extent that one camp's vision prevails, parents in the opposing camp are embittered. And there is no prospect that this will change -- not as long as the government remains in charge of educating American children."

  • Why Fight Over Intelligent Design? by Andrew J. Coulson, Cato Institute, November 22, 2005. "Supporters of the theory of human origins known as 'intelligent design' want it taught alongside the theory of evolution. Opponents will do anything to keep it out of science classrooms. The disagreement is clear. But why does everyone assume that we must settle it through an ideological death-match in the town square? ... The sad truth is that state-run schooling has created a multitude of similarly pointless battles."

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