It didn’t take long, right about a year, for the school board at our Proviso High Schools to turn the subject back to its favorite topic. Itself.
Always. Without exception. Without regard for the suffering of its students, the shame of its unending failure to educate or spend wisely, to connect with parents, to raise up its teachers, to modestly acknowledge its decades of blundering and self-dealing, the District 209 school board again has put its own internal politics at the fore.
This time the absurd debate is over an ill-timed effort to change the number of years the school board president can serve from two years to one year. Maybe that is a good idea. Maybe it isn’t. But it is blatantly political, absolutely rude, and hopelessly and needlessly divisive for a newly aligned board majority to attempt to wrestle the gavel from the current president in the middle of her duly chosen, unanimously elected two-year term.
And Kevin McDermott, the swing vote, ought to be ashamed of himself. In a One View in today’s Review, McDermott attempts to defend himself by self-flattery and puffery. His “energy, experience and integrity” are just what this board needs, he opines.
Nonsense. What this board, with its incoming superintendent arriving in the early summer, needs is steady, mature, open-minded leadership from each of its members. It needs school board members who see beyond its perpetual politicization, who can acknowledge and work with the strengths and the weaknesses every board member brings to the table.
McDermott’s right when he says the Review has previously endorsed his election efforts. We’ve also backed Theresa Kelly, the longtime board member and current board president. Both have their virtues. Both have their flaws.
But one year ago, Kelly led a reform slate to an overwhelming victory on this board. As the veteran of the slate, as the passionate advocate for change, as the African-American woman, she was the singular correct choice for board president. And she has led the district through a critical year of change.
Is she the perfect board president? Nope. Her passions can swamp her at times. She is not the most organized or articulate person at times. She could have done better at times in building connections on this politically-divided board.
But she was the right choice a year ago. She was elected to a two-year term. And the effort to wrest this role away from her by the untrustworthy McDermott and the clearly reelection-focused remainder of this board assures that the year ahead will be yet another year of distraction, chaos and accusation.
We are so sick of this. And based on the results from the change election last year, the majority of the Proviso community is in full agreement.
Much progress has been made in the past year. But the only way to secure the future of this vital school district is at the ballot next year. The remnants of the political machine must be crushed.
And Kevin McDermott has declared his allegiance to the machine.