I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Why "Libtards" Need Tenure

I'm sure that by now you've all heard about the police chief of Gilberton, PA, who enjoys shooting automatic firearms on YouTube:

One of the details of this story that hasn't gotten as much play is that Mark Kessler is a member of the North Schuylkill Board of Education and, as such, is charged with formulating district policy and approving staff hirings. This comes from an obviously biased source, but I think it may give some insight into Kessler's relations with the staff at North Schuykill:
On May 1, 2013 at 6pm, The North Schuylkill School board was holding a meeting. Chief Mark Kessler, being an active board member, was headed into the meeting from the parking lot. He noticed Chief Edward Tarantelli of the Butler Township Police Department. When Chief Kessler asked Mr. Tarantelli why he was there, Mr. Tarantelli stated “I’m going to the meeting.” This struck Chief Kessler as odd, since Chief Tarantelli had not been there before. 
Mr. Kessler noticed that Mr. Tarantelli was placing his gun belt on, and Chief Kessler asked that he not wear the gun in the meeting. Mr. Kessler had also taken off his weapon for the meeting, therefore didn’t think it was too much to ask. Mr. Tarantelli insisted after being asked several times not to wear his gun that he was going to wear his weapon. Finally, Mr. Tarantelli admitted he was there for security. Chief Kessler then asked who had him come for security and for what? 
According to Chief Kessler, Mr. Tarantelli stated that the Superintendent had hired him privately to come to the meeting as security. Chief Kessler feels that this was an intimidation tactic on behalf of the Superintendent of the school board to silence him from speaking out against the employment of an ex-state trooper that is known to use “intimidation” and “thug” tactics. 
How would you have liked to have been in that parking lot when these two butted heads? How do you think conversations between the superintendent and Kessler have been going for the past few months?

One of Kessler's favorite insults is the word "libtard." Were I a parent of a special needs child in the North Schuylkill district, I would have a problem with any member of my school board using a word that clear denigrates special education kids. When confronted with his use of the term by a local radio host, he dodged any responsibility for insulting special needs kids, and started berating the host (go to about 2:20, if you can take it).

[Update: I took the embed of the clip off the post; it was starting on its own and that was getting really annoying. Click below if you want to listen.]

 Watch this at WILK News Radio

Let's be clear: Mark Kessler can say anything he likes, whenever he likes. I know absolutely nothing about federal or Pennsylvania firearms statutes, but if he isn't in violation of any, he can put as many videos up as his little heart desires. I do think there are some reasonable standards of conduct outside of work that can and should be imposed on law enforcement officers (and teachers), but let's put aside the question of whether Kessler has violated any of those; I haven't watched all of his videos anyway, so I won't say for sure.

Is it reasonable to assume that a teacher who expresses an opinion contrary to a school board member like Kessler will be treated fairly by him?

I think even Kessler would admit that he is not a mainstream kind of guy. He's clearly confrontational when dealing with the school staff. How would he react to a teacher who drives to school with an Obama bumper sticker attached to his car? How would he react if a special education teacher asked him (very, very politely) to stop using the term "libtard"? Perhaps he'd be fine with all that; perhaps he'd act in accordance with his stated beliefs about the sanctity of the First Amendment.

Then again, perhaps not.

There are nearly 14,000 school boards in the U.S., supervising over six million employees. I have little doubt the vast majority of these people are conscientious, diligent folks who get paid little to nothing for what is a very difficult job. My neighbors who serve on our local school board work very hard to keep our school system running efficiently, balancing the needs of children, taxpayers, and staff. I certainly believe that's true in the overwhelming majority of cases.

But it simply stands to reason that there will always be people serving on school boards who have their own agendas. It is foolish to think that teachers and staff do not need some sort of workplace protections from school board members who have extreme beliefs. Tenure - which, again, is nothing more than a guarantee of due process - is the best system we have to ensure that the rights of workers are protected from the whims of those who may or may not have ulterior motives.

Mark Kessler has a responsibility to the people who elected him to make sure the staff in North Schuykill's school do their job and do it well. But the staff has a right to express their opinions, just like Kessler, without fear of reprisal. Tenure is the compromise that ensures all parties can retain their rights while meeting their responsibilities. Who could be against that?


Mrs. King's music students said...

Tenure is nothing more than a guarantee of due process...the best system we have to ensure that the rights of workers are protected from the whims of those who may have ulterior motives???

On behalf of the 47 and a half % of nontenured teachers who are taxed but not represented by the God Forsaken NJEA - it's not good enough. I don't know what has to happen for you to realize we ALL deserve better. While I know that much of what you say about charter supporters milking the system for 'their share' of our money is true I don't understand what teachers have to gain by turning a blind eye to the corruption and collaborations between NJEA and BOEs in districts like Camden. Are you thinking it's the lesser of two evils??? While the Camden Elite are not raking in the billions you speak of, the more sickening part is that they KNOW the kids they're hurting. Literally....they make and break their promises to the kids in our schools year after year.

giuseppe said...

Judging from that video, Mark Kessler, is a vile human being. He should not be a police chief, a policeman or a school board member. He'd fit right in with a slaughterhouse or the Pinkertons or one of those crazy right wing survivalist militias.

Mrs. King's music students said...

Relax G. You've got tenure right?

giuseppe said...

In the case of Police Chief Mark Kessler, who made that jaw-droppingly and appallingly crude, vile and disturbing profanity laced video, I would need more than tenure (actually I'm retired); I would need body armor, a bullet proof vest, a titanium helmet, an UZI, a flame thrower and a small nuclear device. Kessler is your typical belligerent, angry and hostile far right gun nut. It's quite unnerving that this off the wall guy owns so many high powered machine guns or has easy access to all these military grade weapons.

Mrs. King's music students said...

Ha. All of that equipment would only protect you from his weapons. You would still have Mark Kessler for Police Chief. Multiply that by all the young fellas like him co-opting Conservative Republican values that are convenient and ignoring the ones that aren't and you would be me.

giuseppe said...

Wow, holy Jove!!!!! I finally got around to listening to that WILK interview of Police Chief Mark Kessler by some character called Steve Corbett. I thought it was going to be some puff piece interview cheering on Kessler because 99% of talk radio is far right wing jerks who love guns and anger. But it was quite the opposite, Corbett went after Kessler from second one and called him to task for his bizarre video and his use of the word libtard. This police buffoon travels around with an M-16 fully automatic rifle and claims that he doesn't have a permit to do so! He claims that his permit is the 2nd Amendment and that's all he needs. This guy is a certified MANIAC, as Corbett called him and told Kessler that he needs to seek psychiatric help and that he should resign, Amen to that.