With another ego-induced spasm of lousy judgment, the two leaders of the District 209 Proviso Township High Schools, just may have reignited the grassroots passions of determined and level-headed people across the township who just want transparent and common-sense leadership of this critical institution.  

Rodney Alexander, school board president, and James Henderson, superintendent, made the unilateral decision before the Oct. 12 school board meeting to shut down the cameras and the live-stream of that evening’s public meeting. Always ready to go too far, Alexander proclaimed there would never be another live-streamed meeting as long as he was president of the board.

Why was the overheated duo preheated before the meeting even began? Because they knew that frustrated teachers and students were on their way to make critical comments on a range of concerns over how this school year has begun. Those concerns included a rash of fights at Proviso East, the lack of a contract with teachers, and, ironically, a widespread lack of transparency.

Their solution to appropriate public criticism? Turn off the cameras. 

Here’s the thing, gentlemen. This isn’t yet an authoritarian nation. We still have reporters. And citizens in the board room have cellphones and can live-stream your meetings all night long. Social media can spread the alarm over your silly tactics and build a community of interest in no time flat.

Already we feel the energy of the original Proviso Together grassroots movement that propelled a takeover of the school board six years back with a slate of determined reformers. Since last week, we now have the Proviso 209 Cooperative which already has over 450 members on a private Facebook page. They are closing in on their goal of 500 signatures on a petition to get meetings back online.

A year into this new administration, we are tired of the drama and the strong-arming. We’re running schools for our children. There’s the focus. The rest is nonsense.

Congratulations, Lt. Hankus

Lt. Lindsey Hankus says all the right things as she discussed her promotion last week to the rank of lieutenant in the Forest Park Fire Department. The first woman to attain that rank in Forest Park is respectful of the accomplishment, acknowledges the pressure of being “the first,” while also testifying to the camaraderie that she has found in the department over her 16 years as a firefighter.

That she is currently the only woman in the department goes to the long road ahead in creating a genuinely diverse force. Her leadership will play a role in decision-making, modeling the virtues of that diversity, and intentionally creating the path for more women in the ranks.

Widely regarded as an outstanding firefighter, Hankus has the opportunity as a leader in the department to bring her strong voice and those of others into the discussions on growing this strong department into one that is actively welcoming to all.