Naperville School Reconsiders Hosting Hippie Radical

Bill Ayers slated to address suburban high school students

He was the face of trouble during Barack Obama's presidential campaign when opponents pointed to possible ties between the candidate and the former 1960s radical, but the hoopla may have been just what Bill Ayers' career needed.

Ayers was scheduled to speak at a suburban Chicago high school next month, but due to the "high level of interest," the school is considering moving his visit off-campus, the Naperville Sun reported.

Still, his reputation as a hippie, radical freak  precedes him -- enough to cause a considerable ripple in wealthy suburb of Naperville

Ayers was scheduled to appear with his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, and speak to eighth-hour classes and appear at Anderson's book shop at 7 p.m. April 8.

The assistant principal at Naperville North High School said students must have a signed permission from their parents to attend the classroom discussion, and it will be open only to students who have a class relative to the specific topics Ayers will address.  

Founder of the radical group the Weather Underground -- a group notable for its campaign of riots, bombings, and a jailbreak -- Ayers is now a professor at The University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education. 

Long after his radical activism of the 60s and 70s, Ayers served on a Chicago school reform board with Obama. Much has been made of their crossing of paths, although neither man has said they were ever really friends, but rather acquaintences.

When asked in recent years how he feels about his Weathermen activities, Ayers admitted to having some regrets, but said, "The one thing I don't regret is opposing the war in Vietnam with every ounce of my being ... I think what we did was to respond to a situation that was unconscionable."

Naperville school officials said Ayers will speak only on three specific subjects in his appearance.  The topics cleared by officials will be -- 1) Ayers' time with the Weather Underground, 2) he attention he received on the campaign trail and, 3) the "small-schools movement," which seeks to replace sprawling city schools with small, student-centered facilities.

So, did his acquaintance with the President of the United States helped him land the gig?

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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