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U-46 meeting regresses into free speech debate
By Seth Hancock
“Dissenters who tell their fellow citizens what is really going on are subject to smear campaigns that, like clockwork, are aimed at the political heretic. Truth is treason in the empire of lies,” wrote former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul in the preface of his 2009 book “The Revolution: A Manifesto.”
The Board of Education in School District U-46 had a four and a half-hour meeting on Monday, Sept. 12 as the public addressed concerns regarding a change in practice allowing a transgender student to use the bathroom and locker room of their identity rather than their biological sex. Of the 57 people to speak on the issue, 37 came to oppose the change and support board member Jeanette Ward for making it public despite an apparent attempt by CEO Tony Sanders wanting to make the change in secret.
However, the Elgin Teacher’s Association first vice president Gary Lorber decided to take aim at The Examiner for trying to hold those funded by taxpayers accountable. He referenced stories from early August when The Examiner exposed the agenda of the National Education Association (NEA) after U-46’s representative Missy Ross came to a board meeting to scold Ward.
Lorber did not deny any of the examples given of the NEA’s agenda and, in fact, put its agenda to practice including the NEA’s 1961 statement that members should “gather information about various individuals and groups who criticize or oppose education, and make resumes of their activities.”
“To none of our surprise, Seth Hancock attacked Missy and some of her comments in his subsequent Bartlett Examiner article,” Lorber said. “There are a cast of cackling cronies who include Mr. Hancock, Mr. Rick Newton and two U-46 board members who have done their best over the past however many months to portray educators, U-46 administration and other U-46 board members as sinister agents of indoctrination.”
Some of the other examples of leftwing indoctrination from the NEA reported on included saying “teachers must become psycho-social therapists” and that teachers should “raise our children to believe in human potential, not God.”
There were no attacks in those stories, titled “Is teaching mandate of U-46 schools correct?” and “U-46 discussion focuses on child values teaching,” but rather portrayals of Ross and the NEA in their own words. Both Ross and Ward were given their say in the stories.
Without providing any examples of attacks Lorber himself levied attacks on what he called a “poorly written attack” filled with “bandwagon fallacy, an appeal to emotion and a straw man” as well as “ad hominem attacks, slippery slope fallacies, hasty generalizations, moral equivalency, red herrings and a favorite of mine, the no true Scotsman.”
Lorber said: “I have a suggestion for The Bartlett Examiner. Instead of letting Mr. Hancock continue to do his best to indoctrinate the public with faulty logic, you should hire Bartlett High School students to write for your paper. I know a couple hundred kids who would produce better and more thoughtful articles.”
Coming to the meeting “to confront these cronies,” Lorber went on, again with no citations of examples, to claim The Examiner has attacked “thoughtful and dedicated board members like Donna Smith and Traci O’Neal Ellis” and administrators.
“When you attack members of my union with pathetic ad hominems and you portray unions as extremist evils hell-bent on the destruction of America, I’ll be there,” Lorber said. “And you can bet all the money you have in your bank accounts that when you attack my kids because of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation I’ll be there.”
The Examiner has reported on the “dedicated board members” referenced accurately as constantly levying or allowing personal attacks on those they disagree with and not being transparent with the public as they regularly refuse to answer questions.
Lorber went on to attempt his own “psycho-social” therapy on those he hates trying to find out how they “have become so lost and so hateful.”
“I wonder what a little girl thinks of when she looks into your eyes. I wonder what hatred you indoctrinate in her eyes when she looks into yours,” Lorber said. “I’m lucky, my job with my kids makes every day a day worth embracing with everything I have. I love them, all of them. And I love them not for who I want them to be but for who they are.”
Trying to hold those in power and those funded by taxpayers accountable was something Lorber once apparently admired about The Examiner when this newspaper defended his free speech when the U-46 administration, which he said had lied at the time, put him on leave for speaking out against the secondary grading scale change in 2013.
In a 2013 email, Lorber wrote: “Seth… I wanted to take a moment to thank you. I appreciate your reporting and the work you did for last week’s Examiner article. If the thought crossed your mind, I do not want you to worry about me and all of this fuss. I’ll be just fine. A number of other reporters reached out to me due to this week’s incident. I hope you do not mind that I referred them back to you and the fine work you did. I do not know if any of them contacted you, but in case they did I hope that I acted appropriately. I have the highest regard for reporters, and I wished you to know that your work was appreciated by me.”
Instead of apologizing to the public for not including them on the change in practice concerning transgender students, Sanders was defiant at the meeting saying “I’m proud of the decision we made” and justifying it with an emotional plea: “If you spend time to get to know people, you find out they’re not out to hurt another person. They’re not out to seek a locker room access for their own deviant thoughts.”
In contrast to the attempts to silence dissenters of their opinions, Ward told the public when one of her detractors was interrupted to “let her speak.”
Ward later said: “I appreciate each and every one who spoke, especially my supporters, but also those who didn’t agree with me. Free speech is a hallmark of our Constitutional Republic, and that includes the press. I’d like to remind everyone that we don’t control the press. The board doesn’t control the press, fortunately, because that’s how it should be. The press should be free.”
As Lorber exhibited union-bullying tactics, board member Cody Holt took note as he was likely one of the two members Lorber referenced.
Holt told The Examiner after the meeting: “I am not afraid to publicly state that I am pro-taxpayer. Even after special interest, public sector union bosses try to intimidate reform-minded board members, members of the public and of the press. We must allow our taxpayers more leverage and control at the collective bargaining table. We should empower our employees with the freedom to decide whether or not to join a union. These are just some common sense reforms that will be beneficial to our taxpayers and employees. The main issue I have is that these public sector union bosses prop up candidates who, when elected, essentially sit at the collective bargaining table with those who helped elect them. It’s dangerous for taxpayers and real reform.”