UPDATE: Lake Forest High’s strike sessions don’t count as school days

Update: The Illinois State Board of Education says yoga classes, guest speakers and You Tube videos don’t count as school.

What the Lake Forest High School Board of Education called “innovative programming” was offered this week in an attempt by the board to break the strike of the school’s teachers, who walked out last Wednesday in a contract dispute. Though the board had expressed confidence their strikebreaking tactic would meet the state standard for being an official day of school (meaning they would get state funding), the ISBE disagreed.

State education officials said late Tuesday that the two days of classes held at Lake Forest High School while teachers have been strike should not count as legal attendance days.

With the new development, it wasn’t immediately clear whether school will be held on Wednesday. Lake Forest High School District 115 spokeswoman Anne Whipple said late Tuesday she had not been apprised of the Illinois State Board of Education’s statement.

“At this point, we do not believe that the Lake Forest program meets the criteria for a legal school day,” said Mary Fergus, spokeswoman for the Illinois State Board of Education.

Negotiations between the Lake Forest Education Association and the board are continuing. Let’s hope that the board will stop forcing students to cross their teachers’ picket lines and, instead, get serious about bargaining a new contract that will put the teachers back in their classrooms with their students.
September 15, 2012

We don’t know how many Lake Forest High School students will report to LFHS Monday, but we are sure that they will not be receiving the high quality education for which the school is well-known.

The LFHS school board on Sunday sent an email to parents telling them that their students are expected to be in school Monday morning, despite the fact that the teachers will not be there.

The email is written in a Q and A format…

Will you take attendance, will buses run, and lunch be offered?

Yes to all. Attendance will be taken and students who don’t attend will be counted absent…

Hmm. Attendance will be taken, but for what purpose? Can you really have an unexcused absence from fake school?

What’s the penalty for that; fake detention?

Will a quality program be in place?

Yes. Like always, LFHS will have high-quality offerings ready for your student.

Really? “Like always?” How will Monday be “like always” if the teachers are outside and the only people inside are those willing to cross a picket like?

The administration defends these actions: “After extensive development by our administrative team, over 50 student leaders vetted the plan with our administration and concluded it would be great.”

They thought it was great? Really? Here’s what principal Jay Hoffmann told LFHS parents Sunday,

“I look out on the picket line and I see awesome people, wonderful friends, people who love your kids. It’s hard to believe right now, but it’s true. We don’t want to do it without them. We want them back. Your kids want them back. Our 50 [volunteer] students said don’t get replacement teachers, we want them back. So do I. We need them, your kids need them and we are going to get them back here.”

The students objected to replacement teachers, so this cobbled together fake school plan apparently is a compromise.

It is being claimed that a rich education experience is going to take place, one that will satisfy the state’s requirements about what needs to happen in order to have an “official” school day.

Don’t bet on it.

The administration also claims that this “fake school” plan will allow athletics to resume, even implying (but being careful with their words) that the athletes will get to play their games against other schools, even though the state’s rules suggest otherwise.

Will athletics continue?

Yes. In fact, because we will be having school, many contests may now resume. Please check the Athletics homepage daily to see if and when the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) has approved contests.

Will there be regular practices for all sports and all levels if we send our students to school this week?

Practices will be held whenever possible, in as many sports as possible, provided there is a certified coach available to safely supervise and instruct the practices.

If my student doesn’t come to school can they participate in athletics?

No, students must attend school to participate in athletics.

So, they can’t promise that school will count in the eyes of the state, or that the Illinois High School Association will allow LFHS to resume its football season, but athletes will have to cross a picket line, to take sides against their teachers and coaches, if they are to have any hope of playing.

Now for the biggest question:

“Why are parents being asked to have their students cross a picket line?

This school belongs to the community and its children. Once on campus, school will be and feel like school for students. It is a very safe and orderly environment – with some great programming in place to inspire your student.      

Again, an interesting choice of words.

The only “inspiring” activity taking place at LFHS on Monday will be found on the picket line. That’s where the school’s teachers will be standing up for themselves against a board that seems determined to cut education quality by making sure LFHS no longer attracts and retains the best and brightest teachers.

The administration refers to this strikebreaking plan as “innovative.”

By this they must mean, “never been tried.”

There’s a reason for that: It’s a bad idea.

Bad for the school district. Bad for the community. And, especially, bad for the students.

The lesson the administration will be teaching, whether they mean to or not, is that they don’t respect teachers very much.

That’s bad for all involved in education.


Send words of encouragement to the Lake Forest teachers.

Check the teachers’ website and Facebook pages.