Guest Column: Thou doth protest too much — a response to Tim Rollins

Editor’s note: The following is in response to the May 15-21, 2013, guest column “‘Can you hear me now?’ School board member responds” by Rockford Board of Education member Tim Rollins, who represents Subdistrict B. Rollins’ column was in response to Jane Hayes’ original column, “Rockford schools: Can you hear me now?,” which appeared in the May 8-14, 2013, issue.

By Jane Hayes

Methinks, thou doth protest too much, kind sir!” (Your teacher wife will tell you this is by Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother.) This is my response to Rockford School Board member Tim Rollins’ self-righteous rant against me for not living in the real world in the May 15-21 edition of The Rock River Times.

First, Mr. Rollins, you must take responsibility for your actions on the school board. Secondly, you lose your credibility by attacking a person who has dedicated her life to teaching, primarily diverse and at-risk students. Thirdly, you have lost transparency, the buzzword, which was the hallmark of your campaign. You seem to resent that I hold you accountable to the public you serve when all I seek is the truth behind the board’s monumental decisions affecting staff and students. Your vocal outrage against me assures me you are guilty of being an elitist, one who is truly out of touch with the real world. Obviously, you must be threatened by my words and me.

Your world, as you said of limited resources and competing interests, seems an odd choice of verbiage to me. You are empowered by your vote to make decisions affecting all in public education. Perhaps you have forgotten that last year I taught at Roosevelt High School, which the board wanted to close and outsource because you thought you knew how better to serve our struggling students. I don’t ever remember seeing you in our building, even when you were invited to attend an informational forum.

Then, I fought the board’s shortsightedness to close Roosevelt by writing numerous editorials and speaking at board meetings, and I will continue to advocate for disadvantaged students.

Then, you commented that perhaps I was not one of those involved in the arts and didn’t appreciate the wonderful way they reach and engage students in a non-traditional academic program. Oh, how little you know, kind sir! Before I returned to teaching, I tutored minority students and took them on numerous field trips because I wanted to provide them opportunities that my children had. My own children received an excellent education in west-side schools only, ones that advocated for the arts throughout the curriculum. In fact, two of my children make their living in the arts in Chicago, largely in part because of my dedication to the arts and their exemplary teachers in middle and high school CAPA (Creative and Performing Arts). And I am proud of my children because they support themselves in artistic fields and because none of them has used nepotism to get their jobs. Beware of what you protest!

Yes, I will continue to concern myself with the school board’s lack of a timely evaluation of its litigator, Lori Hoadley. It is reprehensible to shirk this duty, or is she doing someone else’s dirty work? She has had far too much power and been instrumental in exiting too many fine teachers and staff workers from this district. In my opinion, this is a terrible travesty, one that has had disastrous effects and needs your immediate attention.

I am not questioning how busy you must be. However, when you took the role of board member, surely you understood the need to evaluate the administration and legal department, which you oversee.

Clearly, you must not hear from the teachers concerning their frustrations with the Rockford Education Association (teachers’ union) leadership and lack of support, their unfair evaluations, and improper dismissals as much as I do, or you would concern yourself more with their plight. All these reasons make me believe you are self-righteous and an elitist. Public education is the last vestige of democracy and should not be driven by the elite.

Now, let’s have some true transparency, Mr. Rollins. As the wife of a noteworthy cardiologist whom I put through medical school, I lived in your elitist world for 16 years. Now, I am a proud member of the First Wives’ Club who has survived and thrived. Of course, you have left your own trail of tears in this area. I prefer living in the real world where my children don’t expect jobs because of their last name. Because of my choices and our hardships, my children grew up understanding the importance of human connections, critical thinking, and giving rather than getting. They are independent thinkers who have assimilated global and human values. They are benevolent toward those less fortunate and work hard to make a difference.

You see, my world is the REAL world, sir, and I will continue to investigate your world of school board politics, suspicious bids, business influence on education, nepotism, inequities, unethical treatment of staff members and administrative mayhem. When I congratulated you on winning your race, you said to me: “Oh, you’re here. I didn’t think you’d just go away!” Truer words were never spoken.

So, Mr. Rollins, it’s your turn to reply. As I understand, right or wrong, you always need to have the last word.

Jane Hayes is a member of Watchdogs for Ethics in Education and Rockford Educators Advocating Civil Treatment.

From the May 22-28, 2013, issue

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