Guest Column: Star light, Star bright, how dim you are tonight

By Jane Hayes

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations after the repression of WWII, “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontier,” unless you live in Rockford, Ill., and try to have a letter to the editor published in the Rockford Register Star.

Over the past several weeks, citizens throughout Rockford have been denied the human right to declare their opinions in print. Any critical opinion regarding Dr. Sheffield and her boardies (my coined expression to indicate school board members unable to think for themselves) has been denied by the editorial board of this Star for length or because their education reporter was not present to give the same account. Isn’t an editorial an opinion? Since when is a free society limited in its expression of free thoughts and ideas?

Many who were present at the Signal Hill neighborhood meeting May 13 left realizing how easy it would be to be brainwashed into buying in to Sheffield’s ideas and future plans for our school district. However, those of us who have learned critical thinking and have actually been in the schools over the past year, realize how counter-productive planting seeds of change is when the soil is not properly cultivated and maintained.

Where does that leave us? Have we learned nothing since the history of WWII? Are we once again becoming a totalitarian state with autocratic leaders who refuse to acknowledge disagreements? In my opinion, the Rockford Register Star shines far dimmer tonight, but thankfully, The Rock River Times beams brightly.

Jane Hayes is a member of WEE (Watchdogs for Ethics in Education), a grassroots community group that seeks to hold the current school administration accountable.

From the June 2-8, 2010 issue

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