Daley Cryptic On Pride School Position

Is CPS acting without his blessing?

Mayor Richard M. Daley is "blocking plans" for a gay- and lesbian-friendly high school, according to some of today's news reports.

"A holistic approach has always been to have children of all different backgrounds in schools. When you start isolating children and you say, ‘Only 50 percent here, 40 percent here’ -  same thing we went through with the disabled -  then you want to do that when they’re adults,” Daley said. But given the tight control Daley exercises over ostensibly independent bodies such as the CTA, the CHA and CPS, it's almost unimaginable that the plan got this far without the mayor's blessing. What gives?

School Supt. Arne Duncan is backing the Social for Social Justice Pride Campus, reasoning that it would serve as a safe ground for gay students whose safety was at risk in traditional schools.

Bill Greaves, Daley's liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community also supports the school, which seemed on-course until two parents objected at a school board meeting this week. The board's vote on whether to approve the school was then delayed until Nov. 19.

The school board is also under pressure from ministers opposing the plan.

The Tribunesays Daley is leaving the decision up to the school board, but the mayor isn't one to delegate high-profile decisions to others. And this is a high-profile decision.

CNN reported on the school proposal earlier this month, citing a 2003 CPS survey that found that "Gay and lesbian students are three times more likely to miss school because they feel unsafe." And Fox News was unable to jar a definitive statement loose from the Obama campaign about the school.

Today, the Tribune cleared space on its Op-Ed page for opposing views on the school, with noted George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley arguing that "the planned School for Social Justice Pride Campus would be a terrible setback for public education and gay rights," and Tim King of Urban Prep Academies pleading that gay students need "the opportunity to learn in safe, nurturing environments."

But it is Daley's position that ultimately counts the most.

In a September 10 column by Mark Brown in the Sun-Times, mayoral liaison Greaves "said Mayor Daley is aware of the Pride Campus proposal and 'wished us luck' but hasn't taken a position."

The Tribune then reported in early October that Duncan and other school leaders would back the school.

Did Duncan talk to Daley? If he didn't then, chances are he will now.

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