I’d like to take a quick moment to touch on the East St. Louis teachers’ strike, if I may.
“Doesn’t he know he publishes a paper about O’Fallon, not East St. Louis?”
Normally, I wouldn’t address issues solely affecting other towns, but the East St. Louis teachers’ strike became relevant this past week when none of the O’Fallon High School sports teams could play the East St. Louis kids. All of the East St. Louis teams had to forfeit because they weren’t able to play. Granted, these forfeit matches count as wins for OTHS, which is good for the win-loss records I suppose, but its not the same.
When we posted to our Facebook page that the football game last Friday night had been cancelled, with the Flyers having to forfeit to OTHS, one commenter said that it wasn’t the way the team should want to win. And while true, I’ve found myself thinking more about the students who are forced to accept losing before the game ever starts.
Let’s be honest for a moment, if you were to look at the lists of the best academic scores in the state, East St. Louis probably wouldn’t be in the top ten. However, there are some phenomenal athletes that come from East St. Louis and are blessed with college scholarships due in no small measure to their physical abilities. Sports can be their way out of East St. Louis and their ticket to higher education. What happens now to the seniors who were looking forward to playing football this year so they could secure college scholarships? School will resume at some point and they’ll graduate, but their senior football season has been taken from them. Are any colleges still going to consider them? I’d assume maybe some of the local ones, but what about the big schools? Will they be willing to look at the very small sample size offered up by this year’s team when considering scholarships? Only time will tell.
I won’t pretend to know the in’s and out’s of the teachers’ strike. I don’t know what the teachers are asking for and I don’t know what the administration is unwilling to budge on. All I know is that the students of East St. Louis need to get back to school. They need to get back to playing sports and competing. And the teachers and administrators both would do well to remember the kids the next time they sit down to negotiate and take it seriously.