Mark Drobnick
Mark Drobnick

Keep Politics Out of Our Schools

A neighbor, nearby, has fallen victim to extortion-type tactics at the hands of a couple of primary candidates running for city council positions.  This is nothing new around here.  We experienced similar treatment back in 2008 and before.


One of the candidates now, even had propaganda posted on the bulletin board then, inside Little Fort school.  How to reconcile that the principal said, there's no politicking on school grounds, in connection with a different inquiry?  Apparently, hers are empty words, to serve a double standard.


The specific pressure brought to bear today, is that one of these candidates' daughters is a teacher at Clark school.  She approached the homeowner/student's parent, if it would be okay to post yard signs on their property, of her father and his associate, as it is adjacent to the polling place. 


Now, this teacher and her cohorts are in charge of the student's grades.  What choice does the parent have?  None.  To say no, puts her child's grades in jeopardy.  Here is a blatant conflict of interest.  Are there educators at Clark, or politicians?  This is manifestly wrong. 


The husband of the lady neighbor even did a flip-flop.  The first time I approached him to sandwich in one of my signs between those of the two candidates, he said fine.  Several days later, he was more reluctant, asking that I leave it for him to place.  Next day it was placed alright, next to my door, with a note that they couldn't. 


I ask, who wants to live under this lack of freedom?  I don't know why they should, unless they're uninformed about these characters and/or have no other choice.  These parents should not have to live in fear.


That is why we transferred to the Lake Forest school system (costly), then to private school overseas (again, costly), and now ultimately, to home schooling (we're still paying for two school systems to educate our one set of children).  The bottom line is, these candidates' routine of doing things corrupts our educational system and is detrimental to everyone who must look to it for solutions. 


This way of doing things contaminates our schools with non-academic matters which in no way further the youngsters' intellectual progress.  It intrudes into the sanctity of the family and pressures parents to act without alternative, to protect their children. 


We have well-meaning officials now as executives, but none have children at home.  Thus, none can understand as poignantly as we do, the urgency and gravity of this problem.  In our example, we raise three children:  ages 9, 13, and 15.


I heard one of these candidates in the first mayoral debate, use offensive, improper language before a restaurant of mixed company of all ages and both genders.  The gluteus maximus region of the human anatomy and where Lucifer presides, expressed vulgarly, were gems of language and imagery utilized by the speaker in his fits of eloquence.  His insensitive attitude makes me apprehend that here is a nascent tyrant, tin-horn dictator, if you will.


I have had a bunch of formal schooling in my formative years, in the forms of private and public schooling, and coaching.  I used to wonder why people like the Clintons or Obamas would waste money on private school for their children, or why any parent for that matter.  Now I understand why.


The public system, at times, can be a giant working primarily for the best interests of its bureaucrats and future pensioners.  Although paid lip service, the kids come in somewhere down the line as a priority, maybe fourth or fifth.


There's an anecdote about our former, Illinois Governor Jim Thompson.  When it came time to select university, he was too intimidated by the immensity of Urbana-Champaign (public school, my alma mater, 36 thousand students in its day).  It's too big, he decried. 


Now, have you ever been through the State of Illinois/ Thompson Center in Chicago?  The ceiling alone has to be 250 feet high!  Then the man himself stands six and a half feet tall.  And he, this leader possessed of awesome proportions in both monument and stature, was cowed, overwhelmed, and intimidated by Urbana's campus. 


It wasn't the right fit for him and maybe neither is it for a lot of the rest of us, if we have a choice.  He opted for private Northwestern, and the rest is history; almost vice-president under Bush I.


I will say, that in spite of its splendid quality in many regards, some of those classes at U-C were simply too large.  My biochem class had close to 300 students.  Then how is a student able to ask questions of the professor?   It's practically impossible.


Wags may joke that it's easier for President Obama to send troops to the ends of the earth to nab Bin Laden than it is for him to reform the public, educational system at his home base, Chicago, or the rest of Illinois.  By the way, home schoolers in Chicago get a tuition break that the other 101 counties of Illinois fail to qualify for, which takes the "form" of "The Chicago Virtual School".


I'm sure that Obama and his Harvard colleague, Arne Duncan, do what they can.  But, one asks, can anyone do more, and better?  May I suggest that keeping public school pure and intellectual, with politics left outside the door, so that teachers may dedicate themselves to pure teaching, unencumbered by demands of political hacks, would be a great start.


Fundamentally, it all comes down to excellent teachers.  This I know by experience, amply.  But, you need an un-corrupted system to attract and retain them. 


If it came to making a budget decision between teacher salaries and buildings, I would choose teachers virtually every time.  There is no substitute for excellent talent.  You could have exceptional teachers develop their charges to the maximum in no more than a tent, military or recreational type, although that were the only physical plant. 


On the other hand, the most grandiose warehouses in the world will do little for the students situated there if administered by inept, petty, and jealous individuals, many of whom only purport to teach.  This is especially so when their purpose and focus in life has been deviated, detoured and channeled into proving:  "I can do it.  I did it.  But, you never will.  And I'm here to make sure of that."


MARK  DROBNICK,  City Clerk candidate


               2523 Poplar Street, Waukegan, IL  60087

               Tel.:  (224) 532 - 0456



Mark Drobnick


Waukegan, Illinois  USA


Office Phone: available upon request


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