A local school board election in Park Ridge. Conflicts and convergences.


Disgraced Park Ridge school board member, Dr. Dathan Paterno.

Park Ridge, where I taught for three decades, is having a school board election.

They can. Although the Illinois House is debating the issue as we speak, we Chicagoans still can’t elect our school board.

Why can’t we? I suspect it has something to do with the color of most of our citizens. As a loyal troll of this blog constantly reminds me, I tend to think race is a constant issue in Chicago.

Anyway, back to Park Ridge’s school board election. There are four open seats to be filled by the voters in April.

Park Ridge school board elections have small turnouts.  That is why a white racist and misogynist like Dr. Dathan Paterno can get elected. Remember the good doctor? He was forced to resign from the Park Ridge board a few months ago after he tweeted that the millions of women who marched against Trump a day after the inauguration were 300 pound screeching vaginas.

The little town of Park Ridge, Illinois made it to the national press when the story broke.

The story about Paterno’s screeching vagina tweets broke in January. But Paterno has been tweeting stuff like that since way before he was elected to the board by a couple of thousand voters four years ago. I posted about his vile tweets way back when, trying to draw attention to the woman-hating racist on the school board.

One lesson here is that having the right to elect a school board is not enough. Then we have to elect good folks.

Nobody on the school board who sat next to him at meetings every two weeks seemed to care about the racist and male supremacist in their midst. For nearly four years. That is not my definition of good folks.

Like any community there are good and bad people in Park Ridge. Over the years I knew some really good members of the school board.

I also remember the school board member – Joe Baldi, I think his name was – who during one negotiating session, leaned across the table and told me, “Fred. What you need to know is that we see teachers as just another cost to be contained.”

I recall one year we were on strike in a cold November and community folks would bring donuts and hot coffee to the picket lines. On the other hand, the wife of a school board member physically threatened – literally chased after her while swearing at her – our former union president right out on the street in front of where we were bargaining.

It takes a village, but some in the village might be your looney aunt.

Now some locals are outraged because the husbands of three Park Ridge teachers are running for some of the open seats.

Because if you’re married to a teacher it’s a conflict of interest to be on a school board.

I don’t see the conflict. It seems like a good fit to me.

These watchdogs who object to a spouse of a teacher being on the board have no problem with the likes of Joe Baldi and Dr. Dathan Paterno.

See, I would have thought that being a racist and a misogynist was a conflict of interest for someone sitting on a school board.

Or someone who sees teachers only in terms of their cost.

But the voters will make that choice in April.

In Chicago we are forced to have a board with bankers, lawyers and those who run companies who do business with the board. No conflict of interest there.


4 Replies to “A local school board election in Park Ridge. Conflicts and convergences.”

  1. There are a lot of looney aunts and village idiots out there. The wealthy ones run for school boards, mayors, governors, even presidents.

  2. Are you aware that D64 has just terminated an unknown number of non-tenured teachers? I don’t know how many because this was discussed in a closed session. It appears that the district cut these teachers so that they can hire fresh out of college teachers in the fall. The ultimate goal seems to be that young teachers will never be allowed to become tenured, nor will teachers hired from now on be allowed to work long enough in the district to reach the upper steps of the pay scale. It seems like Joe Baldi’s successors have found a way to contain the cost of labor, albeit a short-sighted one. If D64 wants to maintain and exceed the level of student growth currently taking place, it won’t happen with an inexperienced teaching staff. I for one am going to vote for the three teacher’s husbands who are running for the school board.
    I also urge anyone who doesn’t want their children taught by a brand new teacher every year to do the same. New teachers, please look somewhere else for a position. You will be a cost to be contained in D64.

    1. This sort of administrative dishonesty (falsely rating new teachers “not good enough for tenure”) has gone on in many districts as far back as I can remember, which is many decades. With the enactment of SB7, tenure no longer protects ANY teacher from being unjustly fired, (yes, it slows the process, it takes a year or two, but long term tenured teachers are being falsely given bad evaluations and “not called back”). Teachers that are at the top of the pay scale are targeted because that saves the districts more money. I have seen cases where the school district goes even farther. Instead of replacing a long term, (near retirement) art teacher with a lower paid new teacher, they just fired her and added “art” to all the other things the general studies teacher had to teach. This did not just reduce the art teacher’s salary, it eliminated it entirely, (along with destroying her career, ruining her finances, and drastically reducing her earned pension). The administrators and school boards don’t care.
      This sort of dishonesty teaches the kid’s what? That cheating on the teacher’s evaluations is OK, so why not cheat on tests, why not plagiarize other people’s work? Instead of being an example of upholding the highest levels of honesty and integrity, the administrators and board members who give good teachers false, bad evaluations are examples of corruption and dishonesty at the highest levels.

  3. The spouse of a teacher can serve on the school board. They can’t be involved in negotiations and there may be issues they can’t vote on to avoid conflict of interest.

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