If you've read any of my previous columns, you'll know I'm no friend of public education. I used to have the same attitude toward charter schools.
That is why I was very reluctant to attend the Hammond Academy of Science and Technology when my name was called this past September. I assumed if public schools were purgatory then HAST, a charter school, was certainly hell. I'm glad today; I was wrong.
HAST is the greatest school I have ever had the privilege of attending. All the common sense and decency I have witnessed there is unrivaled in all the schools of Hammond, and there is enough of it to fill volumes.
Consider, this is coming from a Republican attending a school that's the brainchild of the head of the Lake County Democratic Party. If I had even the slightest doubt of this being true, I wouldn't write it.
It upsets me when I hear all the misinformation and skewed data being spread about HAST. What other school do you know of whose numbers were manipulated to try to prove it spent the most per student per year in the entire state? While the source of these falsehoods is unknown, it's not too hard to guess whom it might be. It's probably somebody in a high place in the our regional public education system who fears HAST is a threat to their status quo, and with good reason.
When a school like HAST suddenly appears on the radar, doesn't waste money, doesn't treat students like inmates, and in essence gets the job done, parents start to question their public education system. When that school is led by a principal and staff who, with actions and not empty promises, prove they care about the student body and what they're learning, even more questions are asked.
Finally, when students start to flock to this new school in droves and through state law suck funds away from public schools, administrators who once thought themselves above questions find themselves in deep trouble and find their schools in the red.
Is HAST the perfect school? Certainly not. Nonetheless, I found it is the best our region can offer no matter what anyone else would have you believe. Do your own research. There's more to say about HAST than I could ever fit in one column.
Common sense and decency (free of political agendas) are abundant at HAST and are what I believe makes HAST thrive.
Thank you, Mayor McDermott, and thank you Principal Sean Egan, for building something that makes my family and me once again proud we are citizens of Hammond.