A Few Clouds and Breezy
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Lyons: Real enemies are ESPN announcers, not public employees

Other than big sports events, few things blow our sense of perspective to smithereens like a work stoppage.

Strikes, particularly teachers’ strikes, are great places for emotions to carry you into a frenzy – whether you think teachers should be paid on par with NFL players or that they should just be grateful they aren’t mining coal 12 months a year.

And this is why strikes are effective, because emotions force the issue when reason can’t win. Apparently, it’s not as effective in professional hockey. But the one thing that NHL owners, players, teachers, parents and school board members all agree with is that kids belong in school.

When kids aren’t in school, adults become unglued. And here we were worried about the kids.

So you’re going to hear opinions, whether you want to hear them or not. Many of those opinions will be uninformed, even proudly so. Cartoonish platitudes litter social media and news organization websites.

Any reasonable person knows that teaching isn’t the easiest job in the world, nor is it the hardest. For the most part, it pays pretty well if you stick with it, and the benefits far exceed the benefits that most even similarly educated people will ever get.

Personally, I like teachers, since some of my friends teach, as did my father. Lots of my friends have other kinds of jobs and I like them, too, but I don’t mindlessly lobby on behalf of any raise they want in their professions, nor do I root for their failure.

Those who are great at teaching make the world a better place. That’s not an arguable point. Some are decent. A few are pretty close to terrible. It’s much like the rest of the world, except teachers all get the same raises and are nearly impossible to fire.

•••

Speaking of public employees, there’s been a big changing of the guard on a number of fronts for some longtime leaders in the public sector with the retirement of McHenry County Coroner Marlene Lantz, the announcement of a new police chief in Crystal Lake to replace Dave Linder, and the retirement of McHenry County Judge Joseph Condon.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to know all three of these individuals professionally and believe their presence will be missed. No journalist worth his salt doesn’t have conflicts with public officials, but I have a great deal of respect for each for different reasons and wish them well in their retirements and future endeavors.

When strikes happen and pension reform are such divisive issues, sometimes we forget there are plenty of people of integrity who understand the concept of public service in the public sector. These are three people who demonstrated that during their careers, and they certainly aren’t alone.

•••

And speaking of sporting events shattering our sense of perspective, (I’m looking at you, Kirk Herbstreit) congratulations to the Northern Illinois Huskies on making it to the Orange Bowl. As an NIU student, I never would have dreamed that would happen, but as a Mount Carmel High School graduate where quarterback Jordan Lynch played, I know there is little that a member of the Caravan can’t accomplish.

• Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. Reach him at 815-526-4505 or email him at kelyons@shawmedia.com.

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