Archive for March 2011
Thank god it’s almost baseball season. It’s been a long winter, and I’m eager for my passion to reignite and burn with a warm glow deep into October. I’ve got the fantasy league ready to go, and the sports pages growing thicker with baseball headlines makes me smile a little wider each morning. I can’t wait until I get to my first game.
I’m going full-tilt this year, having already purchased the complete MLB TV package. I’ve back it up with At Bat 2011, the best baseball app available for the iPhone. What this means is that regardless of where I am or what I’m doing, I can watch, listen to, or at least check in on literally every single game. I’ll probably tune in to the Tigers just to wonder at the beauty of Comerica Park. I’ll watch Seattle play because I’ve never seen a game from SafeCo. I’ll check out the action in the Twins’ new stadium. But I won’t make much effort to watch the Yankees or the White Sox. I haven’t gone batshit crazy, after all– I still hate those teams. Them, and the Reds.
My only concern is how I’ll be able to handle this much bliss.
I’m even going to do something I haven’t done in six or seven years, which is buy myself a new baseball cap:
Keep an eye on what is happening around you. It’s good advice. What is happening in your neighbor’s house could find its way to your doorstep before you know it. On a global scale, if Libyans weren’t paying attention to the Egyptian revolution, I’m sure they sure are now. Closer to home, Illinois teachers have been watching the Wisconsin union-busting situation very closely. There are similar issues happening to the east in Indiana, too. If I zoom in even closer, I have good cause to be uncomfortable with something that has happened a mere mile from my home.
It seems that Michael Carbone, a school board member for a nearby district, was upbraided by his own board for attempting to bust teachers he suspects are union sympathizers. Allegedly, Carbone attempted to hack into a district computer system to investigate absence records; he wanted to know who was gone when and for what reason, hoping he would uncover teachers who may have taken personal or sick time to participate in the rallies in Madison.
Carbone’s actions have been significant enough to get exposure in the Los Angeles Times and on The Huffington Post. As previously mentioned, his own school board members have called him out on his choices. He has defended himself by denying it, by claiming he’s a community watchdog, and even by quoting scripture. It’s too bad that Carbone doesn’t seem to understand what could have happened had he succeeded in hacking the computer system and acted upon any information he might have uncovered.
What Carbone was allegedly attempting to do is a violation of privacy. My understanding is that teachers could have brought suit against Carbone, the school board, and possibly the district. In fact, the district could have been in a very awkward position in that it would be forced to defend the teachers even while those teachers brought suit against the district itself. The action would have solidified the union Carbone seems to want busted, the state board of education would likely have become involved, and the local presses would have had something to write about for quite some time. The school board might have been recalled. The cases could have clogged up the local courts for some time, and all three entities could have lost to complainants. It could have cost the district an untold amount of money at a time when every area district is in financial straits. Though none of what might have happened actually happened, Carbone’s actions have been referred to the state’s attorney. This is to say nothing of the ethical implications of his actions, the manner in which he may have disregarded his oath of office, or the suspicion that he lied about his access to the computer system he was trying to hack.
It doesn’t surprise me that a school board member perpetrated these actions. A lot of people would be stunned if they investigated their local board. I am familiar with districts in which, among other things, the president had no idea about his school’s prominence as a national forerunner in instruction, in which a member was not allowed to substitute teach in the district schools because he had hit a student, in which a member hadn’t even graduated from high school, and in which one member’s full-time job was as a parking lot manager. All told, this makes a good case for teacher unions. Without a union, it is possible that a dysfunctional, undereducated, or vindictive school board could turn over the faculty of an entire district on a yearly basis. They could install a curriculum that promotes their own interests (or that trains students to fill positions in their companies). They could hire nothing but friends and relatives, or the best coaches they could find for their pet athletic programs. This is but the beginning of what a school board could do if left unchecked. All too often, school boards act with impunity, and this isn’t my first time writing about it in these pages (one of the first entries I made on The Seeker was You and Your Local School Board). It makes it all the worse for my neighboring district that Carbone feels it is acceptable to violate civil rights and jeopardize so much else because he feels self-righteous. He is a member of the Lake County Tea Party, too, which makes me wonder if this is but a taste of what their members are capable of.
So it pays to watch your borders. It’s reasonable to believe that some members of my local school boards could follow suit with Carbone’s actions, and I can only hope that the idiocy doesn’t seep into the community where I teach, which is but a few miles away from Carbone’s district. It doesn’t help that one conservative online rag is encouraging its readers to investigate in a manner similar to Carbone’s, but I hope the assininity isn’t contagious. I could do without all the drama. If it is contagious, I’m comfortable with the strength of the constitution and the fortitude of my union.