Lake Forest Lesson

Real school resumed at Lake Forest High School last Wednesday, seven days after teachers had taken to picket lines to get a fair contract and two days after the school’s Board of Education initiated a strikebreaking “fake school” scam.

The LFHS board had claimed that their “innovative” plan to assemble students in large rooms and expose them to You Tube educational videos and a series of “guest speakers” would be considered an official school day by the state, though they must have known that this sham would never meet the state standard:

Per 23 Ill Admin. Code 1.420 (f) (3), “[a]school district shall be considered to have conducted a legal school day, which is eligible to be counted for General State Aid, when the following conditions are met during a work stoppage. 

A) Fifty percent or more of the district’s students are in attendance, based on the average daily attendance during the most recent full month of attendance prior to the work stoppage.

B) Educational programs are available at all grade levels in the district, in accordance with the minimum standards set forth in this Part.

C) All teachers hold certificates that are registered with the Regional Superintendent for their county of employment. Other than substitute teachers, certification appropriate to the grade level and subject areas of instruction is held by all teachers.”

Though the administration claimed “we’ve done our homework” and publicly expressed confidence the state’s standards had been met, it’s more likely the board hoped confusion over the status of school would cause a weakening of the teacher’s resolve and end the strike on better terms for the board.

However, late Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago Tribune reported that the state had determined that, whatever it was that the LFHS board was offering students, it was not school.

“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.

A contract was announced early Wednesday. Teachers returned to school that day.

ISBE’s forthrightness was bad for the board but good for students and teachers.

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By the way, among the announced LFHS “guest speakers” was former Chicago Bear James “Big Cat” Williams. We speculate he was drafted for this assignment by the McCaskey family of Lake Forest, who still employ Williams as a Bears ambassador.

Considering that many current members of the NFL players union (NFLPA) have been outspoken on labor issues, including the attack on Wisconsin public employee unions and, more recently, the lockout of NFL Referees, Williams’ participation in attempted strikebreaking is disappointing to say the least.

The games with the strikebreaking refs have  run the gamut from terrible to unwatchable. One has to wonder how much longer the NFL can deny that strikebreakers are an unacceptable embarrassment.

They already know that in Lake Forest.

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