The Register-Mail - a History of Inconsistency

The paper of record in my home town has a terrible history of being inconsistent, misquoting, and generally getting facts wrong. This is my response to the one instance of inconsistency to which I can speak personally. The following is a post I submitted to The Galesburg Register-Mail’s Facebook page. It will likely get buried, there, so I’m posting it here, as well.

Mr. Antwon R. Martin & the staff at The Register-Mail:

I’m sincerely disheartened by the statement made in today’s article regarding Superintendent Arthur’s decision to resign. Specifically, the article states that the Freedom of Information Act Request contains “…email conversations regarding collective bargaining during the teachers’ strike”. This is absolutely not the case.

Pursuant to 5 ILCS 120/2(c)(2), “Collective negotiating matters between the public body and its employees or their representatives, or deliberations concerning salary schedules for one or more classes of employees” may be held during a closed meeting by the public body.

Closed meetings are, by definition, not covered under a FOIA request, as they likely contain sensitive information that may not be in the public interest to disclose. I specifically did not request this information, as I had no interest in violating this statute. I am, however, extremely concerned about the decision to eliminate more than a full school week from the CUSD 205 calendar.

Now, more than ever, students need as much opportunity to learn as they can be afforded. Frankly, I don’t think there’s a single student in the Galesburg school system, or any school system for that matter, that can afford to lose a week of instruction.

I am not here to voice an opinion about the content of the documents disclosed via the FOIA request. There are plenty of other members of the Galesburg community, who, having a much more intimate understanding of the issues than I, will be able to speak to the pertinence of the information.

I will say this: While it should have been in the spirit of Mr. Sward’s 9th grade Civics lessons that I made this request, I felt a much stronger kinship to the lessons learned in my 11th grade American Studies course, specifically Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”. To quote the Transcendentalist, “I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government”.

To Gayle Stewart and Pat Gohring, if you’re reading this, I can never thank you enough for all that you taught us.