This is a sad place we’ve reached, where we continue to protect teachers rather than informing parents about the actions of those who deal with our children.
The most recent comments from the head of the Lewiston-Porter Teachers Union who believes it’s better to hide the fate of a coach is yet another glaring example of the overprotective cocoon that surrounds public employees, and leaves kids exposed.
Lew-Port Teachers Union President Kevin Jaruszewski said the union “has an issue,” because the fate of boys soccer coach Sam Ricotta was leaked to the newspaper. Ricotta, who has been taken out of his position as coach, will be allowed to maintain his teaching job. Sounds fair enough to us. He made a mistake insisting that a star player who occasionally used profanity had Tourette’s Syndrome, even though that’s a characteristic that rarely manifests itself in sufferers.
And while we think it’s an unfortunate gaffe, it hardly sounds like his entire teaching career needs to be tanked. He made an error in judgement, but hardly did something illegal, like use drugs in the classroom, engage in sexual conduct with a student or get embroiled in a physical altercation with his spouse.
Still, it was an error in judgement, one parents who pay their taxes and send their kids off to school should be informed of. How the parents handle the situation in their own home is their prerogative, like how they decide to vote on candidates for public office after learning about any indiscretions.
The truth is a string of coaches at Lew-Port — and the problem is certainly not exclusive to the Youngstown school — have been reprimanded in recent years for inappropriate conduct, both at home and at work. Yet because of the powerful teachers’ unions, little has made the light of day, and instead, the undercurrent of gossip permeates the community. I can tell you, ask a Village of Lewiston member why a former football coach was fired, and they’ll give you gory details.
Ask anyone related to the school, and the official word is he wanted to spend more time with his family and was released with a clear bill of sale. No record can be found anywhere.
Is that fair to the average citizen, the mom and dad who simply wants to know what’s going on at the institution they entrust their children to?
You’d want to know if your babysitter had a record, right? And we, en masse, press on about the character of our politicians, even though their job is simply to create policies and not to mold the minds of youngsters.
Still, the teachers’ union — one of the nation’s most powerful — prefers to put an information lockdown on local campuses, a farce originally introduced in the name of keeping kids protected, but used over the last decade or so as a blanket for teachers to hide behind in the face of adversity.
Mr. Jaruszewski was simply doing his job, too, offering a shield that has been bargained for through previous administrations, largely on the premise that expensive union dues help keep the union strong. And to display the necessity to keep paying those dues, the union needs to offer a sometimes ridiculous amount of security.
Notice that entire paragraph, much like many other dealings in the school system, doesn’t include the word children anywhere.
Jaruszewski did what he’s supposed to — calling in the state hack who is paid handsomely to sit in Albany and pretend like he, too, genuinely cares about the kids in this specific school and how this information leak can be harmful to them.
It’s not. And it never was.
This is not a knock on teachers or coaches. Hardly. Nearly all of the special men and women who help get our kids ready for the “real world” do an exemplary job, spending extra hours honing skills and nurturing impressionable minds and physiques.
But like anything else that’s publicly funded, the public should get to know the truth and be allowed to make their own decisions on how to handle it. In the case of Ricotta, most would probably agree the punishment more than fit the crime.
Teachers and administrators both stick by the credo that knowledge is power, a tool for students to use to unlock the world’s wonders.
Too bad they don’t feel the same about distributing knowledge to parents.
NCCC soccer, NT football, Buff State struggles
Give the Niagara County Community College women’s soccer team its due, even if the team hadn’t won in its first three starts.
Two of the three captains have been knocked out by injury, as sophomore Marissa Schmidt played less than a minute of the first game before succumbing to an ankle injury. Jessica Panepinto, another sophomore, was knocked out on Thursday with what coaches thought could be a season-ending ACL injury.
Still, the squad trudges on, giving national power Genesee a close call in a 1-0 loss on Thursday.
... We know they’re sure to clean up their act, but what’s most stunning about North Tonawanda’s second loss of the season — Saturday’s thrilling overtime tilt with Lockport — is the thought that the Lumberjacks opened the overtime session by taking a delay of game penalty. The team still scored, but that’s hardly the NT team we’ve grown accustomed to. Also, it’s unfortunate the good viewers of LCTV weren’t treated to the conclusion. The station does such a good job with Niagara County sports, but for some reason, the station went black in the waning moments, and those who weren’t at Emmet Belknap Field couldn’t watch the ending. No problem, however, as WLVL was on the call, forcing me to dig out the AM radio. Our old friend Norm Palmer did the game justice, as always. ... Speaking of Saturday afternoon TV, we caught some of the St, John Fisher-Buff State game on Time Warner and suffice it to say the Bengals have a lot of work ahead of them. Granted, St. John Fisher is a power, but the Bengals looked woefully overmatched on Saturday. The final score was 54-26, but only because Fisher took its foot off the gas early in the third quarter. As one Buff State graduate joked, “maybe we can stop using the phrase legendary coach Jerry Boyes.”
Contact sports editor Tim Schmitt at 282-2311, ext. 2266, or firstname.lastname@example.org.