Saturday, May 18, 2013
Brunswick Superintendent Paul Perzanoski got off a couple of good lines in his Aug. 17 letter welcoming teachers back to school.
You could almost hear the irony dripping off the page when he wrote about "our illustrious governor" or made reference to the new anti-bullying law that "failed to include the Blaine House."
Perzanoski was just letting his teachers know that he supported them in what many observers feel is a relentless attack on public education by a reform movement that is more interested in tearing down schools than improving them.
We don't disagree with what Perzanoski had to say and admire his way of saying it. But he picked the wrong forum to do it and he owes the governor and the people of his district an apology.
We look to public officials to give us their best judgment about the policies they carry out and to let us know when the policies are not working. We expect them to be honest and speak out when there is a problem. We pay attention when they have something to say.
But it is totally inappropriate for a public employee acting in his official capacity to get involved in politics, and a personal attack on an elected official is a political act. Calling the governor a bully, as Perzanoski did, or implying that he's not intelligent -- "I think we should challenge (LePage) to take the SAT and make the results public" -- is another way of telling people how to vote. As a private citizen, Perzanoski has a right to express his opinion, but he should not do it when he is supervising employees and acting on behalf of the taxpayers.
What confuses this situation is that Perzanoski is responding to a governor who makes even worse attacks, often without a factual basis. The governor exaggerated and invented problems with the state's schools in an effort to promote his policy initiative. It's easy to understand why educators might be angry.
But if we let Gov. LePage set the bar for political discourse in this state, it will be set too low. People who disagree with each other should still be able to work together to solve problems. Otherwise, we will have exciting arguments that produce nothing.
School is starting and Perzanoski has a chance to teach Brunswick students a valuable lesson. He should apologize and show them that government is not mud wrestling.