The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 27, 2009

Opinions

Whoa – Slow down, Carlisle School Committee

If you had a chance to read the February 13 issue of the Mosquito before heading off for the school vacation week you would have seen a front-page headline “CSC pushes for superintendency union soon.” In Cecile Sandwen’s article, we learned that the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) has chosen a consultant to evaluate the financial and educational issues involved in a union between the Carlisle School and the Concord School District. What was most troubling to me in this article was the following – “if the recommendation is positive and is delivered in March or early April, the Concord and Carlisle School Committees could reach an agreement and declare the union a done deal for the 2009-2010 school year.” Can a decision as important as this be reached in a matter of a month or two?

Inside the newspaper, was another article, “Lincoln and Sudbury consider union,” also written by Sandwen. Here we learn a study committee is being appointed and will “research and analyze every aspect of consolidation from studying the operations of other regional school districts to making a detailed study of the functions of each administrative position.” This study is to be completed by December 2009. In Lincoln and Sudbury, which, like Carlisle and Concord, share a high school, there appears to be no rush to unionize.

In a letter to the editor in that same issue of the newspaper, Tim Hult, former School Committee member and now Selectman, offered his own personal views, detailing his concerns with “the pace of the process” in combining the administrative functions of the Carlisle Public School with those of the Concord Schools. Hult noted that not only are financial issues involved, but also educational issues. Concord and Carlisle schools have different structures and educational philosophies. How are these issues being addressed?

According to CSC Chair Chad Koski, neither the Carlisle Board of Selectmen nor Town Meeting approvals are required to adopt this proposal to unionize. We all realize we are in harsh economic times and we must be looking for ways to save money. Still, should not the citizens of Carlisle have a say in this matter? This would be a dramatic shift in the way our school would be administered. There may be a way to make it work, but it should be investigated carefully and thoroughly, which will obviously take more time than a month or two. At the very least it should have the approval of Town Meeting.

The central question should be whether the projected cost savings is worth the loss of control. A major reason many of us moved to Carlisle was the outstanding school system. Let’s make sure it stays that way.

Truth or consequences

Even if you are no baseball fan and care not about the reputation of Alex Rodriguez – hated über-contract Yankee that he is – his recent mea culpa about steroids raises an interesting philosophical question: Just how meaningful is “coming clean”?

Although equally guilty of using banned substances, Andy Pettitte triumphed in the court of public opinion for admitting and apologizing for his transgressions, while Roger Clemens has been pilloried for his dogged refusal to do so. “Just tell the truth,” shout the sports talk radio hosts. Apparently we have a driving need to forgive.

Admittedly, admitting to mistakes is difficult; there must be some reason why we seem so hard-wired to get defensive in the face of even the smallest accusations of wrongdoing. (Does maintaining an air of invincibility have an evolutionary benefit, allowing the alpha male to pass along a few more genes before finally being driven out or killed by a stronger rival?) We see the humor in a child’s denial – the classic “It wasn’t me,” from a youngster wearing a baseball glove standing defiantly (or sheepishly) next to the ball under the broken window.

Some would argue that Clemens and A-Rod are spoiled babies so let’s not be surprised they have trouble telling the truth. A-Rod even implied that his more recent denials to Katie Couric about his steroid use weren’t so much lies as self-delusion. He carried the lie so long he came to accept it as truth. After all, in his mind, he’s an honorable fellow.

And now, by confessing, he seeks to reestablish himself as honorable. But I find it not quite so honorable to admit the truth in the face of unassailable evidence. Is it more than PR? A-Rod was credited with coming forward just 48 hours after the story broke; how calculating were the two days of discussions between the player and his oh-so-honorable agent Scott Boras? I question the veracity of his claims that he quit just after the time period for which there is clear evidence. Why should we believe him? Perhaps because, as he claims, that was someone else: the naïve Alex, tragically overwhelmed by the pressure to perform at a super-human level since he had just signed the largest contract in baseball. So we’re supposed to forgive him because he was getting paid such an indecent amount he just couldn’t handle it?

When I was a school crossing guard in elementary school, the best guard each week was given a gold badge to wear on his white crossing guard sash. One of the guards was a goof-off, twirling his orange flag and teasing the younger kids. After a series of reprimands and a brief suspension, he apologized, resumed his position and stopped his shenanigans. Shortly thereafter he was rewarded with the gold badge. I recall my palpable feeling this was a grave injustice since he was being rewarded for merely doing his job. To my impressionable young mind, his bad behavior had actually been the key to his success.

In retrospect, I understand that this early reward may have impressed upon the lad the importance of doing the right thing. Maybe he carries that lesson with him to this day. And maybe Alex Rodriguez is properly chastened rather than feeling he’s getting off easy. But I can’t help hoping that for the rest of his playing days and at least the decade afterwards he’ll be tortured by the fear that this will cost him the Hall of Fame. And maybe while he’s dwelling on that he’ll boot a grounder that leads to a clinching playoff win for the Sox.

 

 

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