Updated: February 19, 2013 2:03PM
The circus has come to town, as evidenced by the Chicago television vans parked illegally along Frederick Road Wednesday morning.
Chicago, Carpentersville, Evergreen Park, Highland Park and Lake Forest have all had their moment under the big top this school year, and now the unwanted attention of a teachers’ strike shines on Grayslake (and Hainesville, Third Lake, Lake Villa and the Round Lakes, if you’re scoring at home).
There certainly was no surprise to hear the phone ring after midnight Tuesday with the expected robo-call announcing that “unfortunately, the Board of Education and (District) 46 teachers were unable to reach an agreement, (and) the teachers have informed the district that they will be on strike beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, January 16.”
Normally, as my parents used to say, if you call after midnight, somebody better be dead. Here was an exception to the rule.
So everybody slept in like it was a snow day and tried to pretend that damage wasn’t being done. A drive past the kids’ school revealed more than 30 teachers walking a protest line while bundled up like Inuit, a 25-mph wind threatening to send their pickets airborne. “Honk For Better Schools” read one popular sign. The car in front of me, a Mercury Grand Marquis, had a “Proud to be Union” bumper sticker, but if he honked, I didn’t hear it.
There were more wind-swept packs of strikers outside Prairieview School on Route 120, and Route 83 south of Washington Street had the combined fleets of teachers from Grayslake Middle School and Frederick School. The curbs were lined with coolers, blankets, lawn chairs and other items that could be deployed for either a tailgate or a siege.
That’s the scene after weeks of adversity turned into months, and then everything boiled down to a deadline destined to fail. Both sides point fingers.
Various parents and/or taxpayers point with them. Despite all these informed opinions and exhaustive negotiations, the one stubborn fact is that nothing has gotten done when something should have.
I sat down with my 9-year-old Tuesday night and tried to explain to him that getting a Wednesday off in mid-January is not a good thing. I pulled up the District 46 calendar to show him that the last day of school would have been Friday, May 31, and a one-day strike would push it to Monday, June 3. His eyes started to glaze over.
His real-world education has only just begun.