I'm trying to stay away from writing about charter school scams & scandals. There's just too many of 'em, enough to fill all the open space on SmallTalk for years, and then some. But the latest, coming out of Chicago, really got to me.
It's about a veteran Chicago school principal I've known for years, Helen Hawkins. She made quite a name for herself in the world of Chicago school reform and served as a mentor for many reform-minded young teacher leaders. But she was also one of many who gave up on public school reform, after working against the CPS bureaucracy for so many years. When she got an opportunity to start her own charter school, she jumped at the chance. Whenever I would see Helen, she would point a finger and remind me, education has to be "all about the kids. It's not about the grown-ups (teachers)", she would say.
Lately, whenever anyone tells me, "it's all about the kids," I tell the kids to duck. Something awful is about to be done to them.
This morning I came upon this Sun-Times story, "School's money spent on Coach bags, diet pills." Helen Hawkins is now facing a prison term for embezzling at least a quarter-million dollars from Triumphant Charter School to supply herself with Louis Vuitton and Coach bags, Elan Furs, Tommy Hilfiger and diet pills.