Has The Lawrence Teachers Association Gone Mad?
(caption on yellow sign in above photo: Dr. Mansdorf, Don't destroy our Public Schools!)
(caption on yellow sign in above photo: Dr. Mansdorf, you're responsible for All children!)
No. These teachers are picketing in front of Dr. Mansdorf's office because he is a member of the Lawrence School Board. Now, anyone who has been reading this blog for a while probably remembers the unfortunate battle that has been going on in the Lawrence public school system (background and previous posts here). And this is not the first time that the Lawrence teachers have picketed in a manner that I found reprehensible. Just a few months ago, they protested outside a Yeshiva during class hours, distracting the students and disrupting their learning for the day (post here). But this is too much. Interfering with the livelihood of a man who has committed much of his free time to public service - a post into which he was elected by a very comfortable margin in a vote that included the entire community - really is way over the line. Did the LTA protest at all of the board members' (read: non-private school) places of business? I will believe it when I see it.
Another point which I need to address is the inflammatory language on the protestors' signs :
Dr. Mansdorf, Don't destroy our Public Schools!
Dr. Mansdorf, you're responsible for ALL children!
I have been following this feud for a long time. And one constant that seems to exist is the fingerpointing that is always going on as to which "side" (Public school or private school) is more actively creating the bad blood here. Well. I don't think it takes a genius to figure that one out when looking at these pictures. To target a School Board member solely because he is a member of the private school community, with loaded statements printed on signs that imply that somehow he is giving short shrift to the community he is not a member of, and to do so at his place of work is clearly a tactic that is meant to inflame already raw tempers. I am well aware that as Americans, we have the right to protest. But where is the line here? Are they entitled to protest outside the school board members' homes? Their kids' hockey practice? The inalienable right to protest does not take away the obligation these teachers have to act responsibly.
I can just imagine the fire the Orthodox community would draw if they resorted to similar tactics. What would happen if Orthodox parents decided to picket in front of the Lawrence public schools with similarly provocatively worded signs? Ha. I can only envision the tempest that would create.
Update: Here is the flyer distributed by the teachers' association at the protest, which selectively quotes no less an authority than the Times' columnist the Ethicist as support (here is the actual column). Next week the LTA should ask him about the ethics of interfering with the livelihood of an unpaid public servant.