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Chris Lind v Competency in Education

Category: Education
Posted: 11/16/07 13:41

by Dave Mindeman

The saga of newly elected Prior Lake-Savage school board member, Chris Lind, is worth a discussion. Lind, who was fired from his job as campus supervisor for insubordination, decided to run for school board and won.

His message to the voters was a conservative tax message, but his reason for running was to get even for being "wronged".

The background on this story is one that school districts have to constantly grapple with. Lind is a Christian proselytizer. He truly feels God calls him to help his fellow man by helping students find God and the true "path". But, as is also often the case, Lind doesn't counsel students about cheating on exams or bullying other students. No, his advice centers around sex -- orientation of or abstinence from.

Parents get understandably nervous when their impressionable and confused teenagers are getting advice outside the family and outside a controlled educational setting.

One has to assume that Lind doesn't have parental permission and he is also not guiding students through their own feelings. No, he would be doing the proper Christian thing -- tell them what they have to feel and what their orientation must be.

Understandably, some parents objected to this and it forced the Superintendent to take some kind of action. Despite repeated warnings, Lind continued his "mission" and the school board was asked to fire him for insurbodination. Which they did by a vote of 4-2. The dissenters voted against the dismissal, not so much on the issue, as from a fear of protracted litigation..... which proseltyzers are likely to do.

The conservative Christians in the community reacted with their usual indignation. After all, a Christian's action, no matter what it may be, is protected by the will of God. Thus a voting coalition of righteously wronged and angry "it's my money" people formed to squeak Chris Lind onto the school board.

Lost in the hoopla was a bond referendum that this district desperately needed -- more than most. The area population is growing much faster than facilities can accomadate and classroom size is mushrooming. The school superintendent Tom Westerhaus really didn't need the extra controversy to overshadow the real issues, but it happened and Lind's election was coupled with a referendum defeat.

Chris Lind may feel vindicated in this fiasco, but an entire school district is the loser. Not only was desperately needed revenue withheld from a struggling district, but Tom Westerhaus resigned when faced with the prospect of working for a school board that contained a member he had recently decided could not work for the district as an employee.

It was an understandable and most unfortunate interpretation of the vote.

I don't fully understand why religion and education seem to be constantly at odds. Both, at least in theory, are seekers of knowledge. Too often, with religion, the problem is an inability to say "I don't know".

Chris Lind is now on the school board and their first order of business is to find a superintendent that can be half as competent as the one that just left.

I hope the district can make it through this controversy. As with every other conflict that adults manage to conjure up, its the kids who end up bearing the burden.
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