Monday, June 17, 2013

Here I am again!

It's really been a long time since I've added a new post.
Yet it seems like every day there is something I want to write about... something that begs to be discussed, poked, prodded or just plain brought to someone's attention.
I didn't post last week when I should have.
I didn't talk publicly about what happened to my friend, Rosemary.
Let me tell you about her.
It was somewhere in the early 2000s.
I noticed her sitting in the front row of a Board of Education meeting, taking notes, looking befuddled. When the meeting was over, she asked if she could speak with me to get some clarification on what had occurred. After all, Board meetings are conducted in educationese, a language much like Greek to the uninitiated. Educators tend to forget that acronyms and other technical terms aren't encountered by the average citizen.
We spent an hour or so talking and she left, vowing to learn more about the school district and its workings.
Fast forward a few years and Rosemary had become a regular fixture at Board meetings... besides being an active PTA member. She was devoting many hours each week to district causes, hosting an Open House in her home to help pass the budget, showing up at Q&As around the district to advocate for the schools. She became involved with the State Board of Education, eventually holding the position of Vice President for Legislative Affairs.
I retired in January 2008 on the heels of one of the worst years I'd ever spent in education. Our district was mired in a dispute, spearheaded by a small group of people, over a video that, while showing the various types of families, spent one segment on the families of gay and lesbian parents. The year was ugly with homophobia and resulted in the Board having to decide whether or not to keep the video as part of the curriculum. When the vote was held, Rosemary was the lone voice in favor of continuing to show students that families of gay and lesbian parents were to be valued and given the same dignity as those of other groups.
Now to the last couple of weeks.
I don't know exactly what Rosemary said because I wasn't in the room, or even at the meeting, for that matter. Accounts vary from those who say she made objectionable anti-Semitic remarks about a proposed change in the 2013-2014 school calendar to accommodate a Jewish holiday, to those who say her remarks were taken out of context and that her position on the issue was valid.
Doesn't really matter.
In the wake of the furor, again created by a small group of people, Rosemary apologized.
Still the drumbeat for her resignation grew more strident, kept alive by one local newspaper and its television subsidiary and Facebook.
No one who serves as faithfully as Rosemary has should ever be castigated and publicly humiliated in that manner. An apology wasn't enough. Only her head on a platter would do.
So, about a week after the remark, Rosemary resigned first the state post, then the local one. Both Boards of Education lost a valuable asset.
But the politicians who want the Board to be an arm of municipal government and those who have for years wanted Rosemary out of the way gained what they saw as a victory.
I am sad that we teach our children this lesson: don't ever make a mistake that gives your enemies a chance to pounce and destroy years of your good work and dedication.
Don't forgive, no matter how sincere an apology.
And above all, don't try to offer your time, your effort and your devotion to your community.
No good deeds go unpunished.

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