I dance around the question of how much to say about work. The public interest community in Chicago is small, and though I’m hardly the world’s most anonymous writer, I take some comfort in the fact that my coworkers are unlikely to find this little cranny of the internet by simple google searching of my name or my field.

As a result, when work things take a turn for the unpleasant, when I end up spending too many nights in a row working late and then working more after I get home, I sort of lose my zeal for the sarcastic, off-the-cuff writing I do here, because I worry that by talking about it I’ll compromise my pseudoanonymity.

But it’s been a couple of months now that I’ve been wrestling with the same unpleasant situation at work, and in the past couple of weeks it’s really escalated and taken over my nights and my weekends, and I have some things to say about it. Caution to the winds!

The Background: Some of my work involves schools, and through this work I have spent a ton of time recently (seriously, like 75% of my work hours) helping out a stellar group of educators facing some seriously shitty circumstances from the higher-ups in their organization. I’m not trying to be coy by not telling you more, I’m trying to protect them as much as me, but suffice it to say that for some people school = place to educate children and for other people school = source of revenue and shut up with your stupid talk about “teaching” and “learning” and “serving the kids” already. (You can probably guess which side I am on.)

The whole situation sucks. There is a clear good guy, a clear bad guy, and a bureaucracy that lacks the political will to actually do the right thing. None of this is unusual, but it still sucks.

But the situation really took a nose dive a week ago, when a ridiculous, easily-disproved allegation was made against a teacher who has devoted her career to education by a party who wants to “discredit” the group I’ve been working with. The higher-ups seized upon the allegation, ignored the evidence that indicated there is NO WAY that it could have happened, suspended the teacher, opened an investigation with DCFS, and called in the police.

One of the most frustrating things about working in law is the times when people try to manipulate it to their own advantage with no apparent care for how that might affect others. I don’t mean to be all aw-shucks naïve- I realize that people everywhere, all the time, try to manipulate the system to their advantage. But making an accusation that you know to be false, that could ruin someone’s career, and putting a child in the middle of it, just because you are trying to gain an edge in a disagreement on some comparatively minor point? That crosses the line.

I want there to be repercussions for the people who can be so cavalier about lying about something so serious. I hate working in circumstances where you can’t rely on the adverse party to at least abide by certain basic rules of common decency. Disagree with me to the death, argue your point passionately, yell if you have to, but leave the lying, cheating, conniving shit out of it. Because where before I was zealous in my advocacy but civil in my demeanor, now I’m just pissed. I don’t like being pissed, it ruins my day- so trust me, adverse party- now that you’ve gone there, I won’t give a second thought to ruining yours.

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