My job, Gil's job, and Upper Darby
Brace yourself for another couple of raucous days in the Upper Darby School District.
Tonight the school board will continue the hearing on their controversial budget and realignment plan that cuts teachers, hikes taxes, and eliminates ‘special’ classes in art and music at the elementary level, as well as language and tech specials for the middle schools, and all phys ed classes for elementary kids.
Two weeks ago, 80 people signed up to address the board. Look for another marathon session tonight. Tomorrow morning parents, educators and others upset over the proposed cuts will board buses for a caravan to Harrisburg, where they will rally on the steps of the Capitol and hope for a meeting with legislators and possible Gov. Tom Corbett. They plan to deliver a petition against the cuts signed by thousands of residents.
We have devoted considerable time and space in the newspaper as well as DelcoTimes.com to covering the situation in Upper Darby.
Most of it has been in our news pages, as well as our editorial and commentary pages.
We do have another element, as many readers are aware.
His name is Gil Spencer. Gil is a columnist. His job is to do what every reporter does, gather facts, interview people and assemble a story. But Gil does something reporters don’t do. He formulates an opinion and expresses it in print. Very often in emphatic fashion.
I’m always amazed at how many people who call me asking if Gil Spencer will do a story on their plight, wind up less than pleased with what winds up in print. That’s one of the reasons I always issue a caveat to people when they want to talk to Gil.
A lot of people also wonder why I would possibly allow Gil to express the opinions he does. Clearly they don’t agree with him, sometimes with a passion, the same kind of passion Gil often brings to his writing.
Here’s a secret. I very often disagree with Gil. When I tell people that, especially people who are calling to complain, they ask me why I allow him to do what he does.
It’s pretty simple really. That’s his job. He expresses an opinion. Everyone has one. But Gil happens to have a forum to express his. I don’t always agree with it. That does not mean I have any intention of taking Gil’s away.
Gil has made it pretty clear he does not agree with the arguments being put forward seeking to overturn the decision by the Upper Darby School Board and administration to enact some tough cuts and curriculum cuts.
He has made that clear in his column. He’s also taken to task some of those who are leading the charge against the cuts.
Not everyone has liked his depiction of this struggle.
My suggestion to them is not to silence Gil, but rather to take part in the conversation.
Like one writer who decided to respond when Gil turned his sights on the leader of the SaveUDArts.org website and Facebook page.
The Upper Darby story is not going away. We aren’t either. We plan to continue to cover this very important story.
My guess is Gil will as well.