You may have noticed a pattern in the opposition slate's attack during the course of the campaign: Manufacture a crisis or scandal, broadcast it widely ... then, when it gets no traction, make up another one. And another. And another. Each time, it's been easy to debunk their claims. But they're always prepared with the next one.
The opposition slate and their supporters have obviously combed through countless documents posted on the District's website or obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. And guess what? They couldn't find a smoking gun — because there isn't one. The school board is not corrupt. The administration is not inept. The curriculum is not an "experiment." They found a well-organized, efficient, capably managed and staffed school district embarked on a successful improvement plan.
So they did what desperate and unscrupulous politicians sometimes do: they made stuff up. They manipulated statistics to try to convince voters that our students are failing, then used that supposed failing to explain the slow housing market in Lake Forest (but not, mysteriously, in Lake Bluff). They falsely claimed a "disastrous" rise in teen drinking at LFHS. They created a complicated web of accusations to convince voters that their vote for one of the Caucus candidates "wouldn't count."
Most recently, they sent a mailing and email displaying some restaurant charges and trip expenses and claiming that the Board of Ed "loves" to spend your money. No context is given for any of the expenditures, of course, so you wouldn't know which ones were to provide lunch for teachers in all-day training sessions, or which were for class trips reimbursed by student activity fees.
The single biggest expense listed was for a "New York Trip with no work product." This trip to Rockville Center, NY, in 2013, was no junket — in fact, it proved to be the turning point for our school board and staff in adopting practices that have eliminated barriers for students and increased achievement across the spectrum of learners. We don't know how the opposition slate defines a "work product" — maybe a written report or something? But solid evidence of student growth and increased opportunity for all students in the intervening years seems a sufficient return on investment.
Now the campaign is nearing its end. Most likely the opposition will fling something else at the wall to see if it sticks. We're all weary of the sustained attack on our community and our values.
When it's all over, if the votes go as we think and hope they will, our students will still be wonderful young people who are learning and growing every day. Our teachers and administrators will still come to work every day determined to keep our school on the right track. Our school board will still be composed of diverse, open-minded consensus builders doing their very best to manage the budget wisely while providing the greatest possible educational opportunities for our kids.
And, we hope, the ugly scars of this campaign will heal and allow us to reunite as a community with pride in its students and institutions. Our kids deserve no less.