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March 31, 2009
Ayers Appearance at High School is canceled
Thomas Lifson and other American Thinker readers weren't the only ones outraged when a teacher at an academically solid suburban Chicago high school invited unrepentant terrorist and now radical professor of education at the University of Illinois in Chicago, Bill Ayers, to speak.
Parents and other tax paying citizens protested so forcefully that the superintendent reluctantly canceled his appearance. Superintendent, Dr. Alan Leis' disingenuous and evasive statement announcing the cancellation is posted on the school district's site. Remember, this is a man who earns approximately a quarter of a million dollars annually in salary and benefits courtesy of the highly taxed residents of the area.
The appearance by Dr. Bill Ayers at Naperville North High School next week has been canceled.
On Friday, it was announced through a Talk203 email that we were reviewing the decision to invite him and that we were also exploring the possibility of moving the appearance to another venue. Initially, many people were upset about his appearance in a school building, even though it was to have been with a select group of students with required parental permission. Several people offered worthy suggestions about how to make the event more meaningful by concurrently inviting someone that would provide an equally strong opposing viewpoint.
Over the weekend, however, it became clear that this issue was not really about where Dr. Ayers was speaking, but that he was speaking at all. Each day, the level of emotion and outrage has seemed to increase, along with the number of emails and phone calls received. What was most unfortunate was that a few directed their anger toward an outstanding high school and at a well-regarded, award-winning teacher who encourages students to think for themselves.
While parents and others have written urging us to continue with the event because they want students exposed to diverse viewpoints, Dr. Ayers' appearance has clearly become a "lightning rod," both inside and outside the District 203 community, because of his past actions. It is clear that any value to our students would be lost in such a highly-charged atmosphere, and that any debate of issues or viewpoints would be overshadowed by media coverage and anger over the event itself.
Dr. Alan Leis, Superintendent of Schools
Naperville Community Unit School District 203
Notice how Leis blames emotions from various sources as the reason for the event's cancellation, even managing, in the finest liberal method of covering one's rear, to make the inviting teacher and also himself, martyrs, victims of a noble cause. Ignored is why people were so upset about Ayers' appearance--no reference to Ayers' history, beliefs and actions--while throwing protestors a bone--oh yeah, maybe we'll redo the speech "by concurrently inviting someone that would provide an equally strong opposing viewpoint." At the minimum, that should have been embedded in the original presentation.
Naperville residents--you have another opportunity to make your voices heard about this situation--remember to vote in the School Board election on April 7, 2009.