The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Watch Your Borders

with 2 comments

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.


Written by seeker70

March 21, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. Over the years I have been, by turns, amused and outraged by the love/hate relationship local communities seem to have with those good people who teach their kids. By the same token, I have been put off and inspired by how teacher’s unions have defended their own kind. No matter what side you are on in this debate, there are horror stories.

    I believe that’s what’s happening in WI,IN, MI and other states isn’t about teachers and school board members. Rather it’s about who has moral control over our social fabric and who doesn’t. That there needs to be moral control at all, in the eyes of those who insist on it, is what scares the hell out of me.

    My point is that there is a bigger game being played here and teachers and their unions are just pawns. Yet collectively, pawns are the most powerful pieces on the chess board. March on!

    Ray Uloth

    March 21, 2011 at 9:21 pm

  2. The discussion over the last several months has been almost exclusively about the benefits and pension plans of teachers and state workers. People who, while potentially making a decent salary, are typically not categorized as wealthy.
    There has been virtually no discussion of what cuts the Governors and legislators are willing to take to their own salary and benefits. Considering that one is an actual profession and the other is supposedly “public service”, this infuriates me.
    I don’t fully understand the system in Wisconsin, but looking at the federal level, it’s my understanding that once a person is elected to congress, they are fully vested in their pension after 5 years. Less than a single Senate term. Most Americans would kill for that level of support. They enjoy relatively low cost of health benefits and make a good salary.
    This argument is all about greed, and it is not surprising that the people in power are unwilling to make any sacrifices to their own wealth, or the wealth of their power base.


    March 22, 2011 at 8:21 am

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