The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

You and Your Local School Board (pt. 2)

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It looks like I’m going to the school board meeting again Tuesday night.  I went last month, too, which itself is unusual.  Two in a row?  Unheard of.  These are for Warren, my local district, which I’ve written about before herein.  In fact, the subject of school boards is one of the first I ever wrote about in The Seeker, and I’ve revisited school board issues on occasion.  We do things out of necessity, though, and what has transpired recently with a local school board member is a call to action.

The local press first picked this story up and reported it:  Local idiot Liz Biondi got herself elected to the school board as a write-in candidate (she only got thirty-some votes), and has subsequently used her platform to do little more than showcase how much of a moron she is.  Lack of preparation, ignorance of technology, and paranoia have been a few of her calling cards—and those are the words of her fellow board members at the last meeting.  Now, she can add bigot to that list.  The district is searching for a new superintendent, so Biondi exercised her First Amendment rights by declaring that they should not hire someone who is gay for fear that the person would be fighting more personal fires than superintendent fires.  The outrage in Gurnee has been significant from all quarters of the community and beyond.  A full hour was spent at the last school board meeting with people speaking to the board in opposition to Biondi.

This is not the only case against the school board system.  Blatant displays of ignorance by school board members have become the norm in the northeast corner of Lake County in the last few months.  Perhaps the most publicized one came out of Waukegan.  The community endured a month-long teacher strike in the fall.  Nothing could seem to break the deadlock until Victoria Torres decided to take on all comers at a school board meeting.  The video went viral, and within two days the strike was over.  People are going to remember her outburst more than they will recall the issues that led to the strike, especially when she’s up for re-election.  I’m going to venture to guess that she will not be a school board member in the next term.

Things aren’t necessarily much better in another Lake County district with which I’m familiar that shares  borders with both Waukegan and Warren, which makes me think the stupidity is contagious.  In this case, the school board president had moved out of state, yet held onto her position.  That’s a violation of her school board oath and the state law.  It wasn’t until her ex-husband posted pictures of her license plate that anybody really paid attention to the situation.  She quickly resigned, but there has been plenty of speculation that she lived out of district for quite some time before someone did the right thing.  This is perhaps the most egregious of the three issues herein; this woman perpetrated her deception and lack of ethics in secret, all  the while effecting budgetary and hiring decisions, and no doubt continuing to favor programs run by faculty members with whom she has carried on an unprofessional relationships.  She didn’t come out until she was caught, which only supported what many of that district’s teachers have known since they went on strike three years ago:  She demonstrates profoundly poor judgment and cannot be trusted.

I’m interested in seeing what happens with Liz Biondi.  I can’t fathom a low-level elected official being able to withstand the justified vitriol spewed at her over the last few months.  It seems all too often that the clowns who run any particular school board lack common sense and a sense of decency, and remain voluntarily ignorant to what is happening around them.  The result is poor leadership for whatever school district they are influencing.  I have to share the blame in this, too.  I’ve never voted for my local school district, so I’m partly responsible for Biondi getting in the door.  I’ll vote in the future, though, for whomever a friend of mine who works in district wants me to.

The onslaught against Biondi has been led in part by a Warren English teacher who established on online petition that helped galvanize the community and bring further awareness to the situation.  He spoke strongly and eloquently at the last school board meeting, and I can’t help but think that as a fellow union member and teacher that he is grinning ear to ear at being able to fulfill every working man’s dream:  To speak out in the strongest terms possible against one’s boss, and to actively (blatantly!) lobby for her removal without fear of repercussion.

So say that all three of these school board members will be gone in the near future.  One is already gone, which is a good start.  This won’t solve the problem of school board incompetency.  If things have to be so public, if people have to rise up and expose wrongdoing and still not be guaranteed any satisfaction, then the problem has already gone too far.  Too few people pay attention to what is going on with their local schools.  One explanation is that many people in any given community aren’t vested in the local schools because they don’t have children attending them; they have no direct stake.  That leaves a minority of people interested in what is a huge cash cow for any community, so it makes it easy for an out of control or incompetent school board member to divide and conquer.  I’ve seen this happen for twenty years now, and these aren’t even the worst instances I’ve endured.  One school I worked at featured a board member who managed a parking lot as his full-time job, and another member who hadn’t even graduated high school.  It’s hard for people like that to win the respect of well-educated teachers, and their lack of education makes many of their decisions seem dubious at best.

It’s a shame that “dubious at best” encapsulates far too much of the school board system, especially in Lake County.

Written by seeker70

January 19, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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