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McCaleb: So much for putting children first

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"We applaud teachers in Prairie Grove District 46 for continuing to work during tough contract negotiations with the school board. Unlike the Chicago Teachers Union, which left students and parents stranded for the better part of two weeks earlier this month when its members went on strike, District 46 teachers are putting children first by staying on the job even though negotiations have stalled."

– Northwest Herald Editorial Board, Sept. 27, 2012

So much for putting children first.

In the wee hours of Friday morning, District 46 teachers decided to walk out on their students, 1,000 or so kindergartners through eighth-graders in Prairie Grove. Friday's classes were canceled, and parents who received automated phone calls about the time they hit "snooze" on their alarm clocks had little time to figure out what to do with their children.

Just like the Chicago teachers before them, it was a selfish decision motivated by their own self-interests and with no concern whatsoever for their students.

Later Friday, after a public bargaining session that lasted almost eight hours, the union and school board reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. The union's 74 members still have to ratify the deal, but teachers will, thankfully, be back to work Monday.

Did the strike force the hands of the school board's negotiating team into making a deal that's not so good for District 46 taxpayers? We won't know that until the details are released after the vote.

Regardless of whose side you were on during the contract talks, teachers should have continued to work.

What message are they sending students by going on strike, even if just for a day? I'm not getting my way, so I'll just take my ball and go home. That's a pretty lousy example to set.

And the District 46 strike might not be the only one that will affect area students this semester.

Teachers from Carpentersville-based District 300 are meeting today to vote on an intent-to-strike measure that could have them walking out on students in a few weeks. While today's vote is largely procedural and doesn't mean teachers will strike, I still urge them to vote against it. By rejecting it, they'd send a message that, in fact, their students come first.

• • •

Election coverage: The Northwest Herald Editorial Board begins its endorsement process on today's Opinion page with recommendations in our area's two contested races for Illinois General Assembly – House District 52 and Senate District 26.

The board's endorsements will resume Tuesday and continue through Sunday. It also will make endorsements in all six McHenry County Board districts, in the county's two new congressional districts (6th and 14th), in the race for U.S. president and in the referendum that asks voters whether they want to change to the county executive form of government.

We don't take our endorsements lightly. We've had an opportunity to meet the candidates (with the exception of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney). We listened to them discuss a variety of issues pertinent to their races. We've read their responses to our questionnaires. Based on that and any other information available, we make our endorsements.

Remember, though, that our endorsements are simply recommendations. They are not meant to end the discussion. They are part of the discussion.

It’s up to each individual voter to make an informed decision. To help you do that, we’ve uploaded each of the candidates’ responses to our written questions onto our website. We’re also in the process of uploading videos from our face-to-face meetings. Check them out at NWHerald.com/election.

• • •

Comings and goings: There were a couple of notable news items last week about new hires to important community organizations, and one significant item about a departure ... or soon-to-be-departure, anyway. I'll start there.

For the first time in 12 years, Lake in the Hills will have a new village president after next spring's consolidated municipal election. Three-term Village President Ed Plaza announced last week that he does not plan to seek a fourth term.

When Plaza first took office in April 2001, Lake in the Hills' population was about 25,000. Since then, the village's population has grown about 16 percent to 29,000, with most of that growth coming in his first two terms.

During his tenure, Plaza oversaw land acquisition and construction of the new village hall, improvements to the Lake in the Hills Airport and significant retail growth, particularly along Randall Road.

There will be plenty of time to wish Plaza well on his next endeavor. But let me be among the first of many to do so.

• • •

Now, the comings: Congratulations to Siobhan Cottone, who was hired by the Lakeside Legacy Foundation's Board of Directors as the foundation's executive director.

I worked with Cottone briefly when she was development director at the Pioneer Center for Human Services, whose board I sit on.

As executive director, Cottone will lead the foundation's mission of supporting the arts in the area. Lakeside is located at Crystal Lake's historical Dole Mansion. Among many other events and important projects, the foundation organizes the annual Lakeside Festival on the Dole grounds near the city's namesake lake.

Also congratulations to Robin Doeden of Lake in the Hills, who started her new job as CEO of the McHenry County Community Foundation on Monday. Doeden most recently was executive director of the Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation. As CEO of the Community Foundation, she'll be in charge of fundraising, distributing grants to local nonprofits, and working with those nonprofits to improve their fundraising efforts.

• • •

No Bears: With the Bears on their bye week, many readers will have a few extra hours today to enjoy time with the family, get some additional chores done around the house or in the yard, or just be lazy.

I, on the other hand, will be watching the miserable Browns invent a new way to lose a game they likely had a chance of winning.

Getting an early start on raking actually sounds pretty good right now.

Enjoy your Sunday.

• Dan McCaleb is senior editor of the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at 815-526-4603, or by email at dmccaleb@shawmedia.com.

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