News From Myanmar…er…Pennsylvania. Trickle-down Fascism Alert…

Not an FOI-related post, but I’d like to also use this space from time to time to highlight what I like to call “trickle-down fascism”: the inexorable creep of authoritarian tin-pot dictators in offices large and small across this great land. Consider it my occasional foray into the absurd. Today’s Banana Republic Moment is brought to you by the Allentown, Pa., school board:

For more than three hours on March 31 the Allentown School Board let children, parents, taxpayers and employees voice their opinions — all negative — on Superintendent Gerald Zahorchak’s plan to cut 247 teaching jobs and 85 courses next school year.

The next school board meeting shouldn’t be nearly as long.

It’s not just because the school board has approved the cuts contained in Zahorchak’s new Program of Studies, but because one group has been ordered to keep negative comments to themselves: teachers.

It seems the powers-that-be in Allentown would like all those fussy teachers to toe the line and swallow policies they find repugnant, all in the interests of appearing to agree with them.

In an email to district principals for distribution to staff, Deputy Superintendent Russ Mayo issued a five-point reminder that employees could be disciplined if they are “making public statements that are inconsistent with district policies and that could serve to harm the effectiveness of district programs.”

In other words, silence! This is trickle-down fascism at its finest: a public official trampling on the rights of public employees in the name of state-enforced orthodoxy. It is profoundly un-American, and these officials should be ridden out of office on a rail. If and when citizens simply refuse to abide by such heavy-handed tactics, our civic life will improve markedly.

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