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Good or bad? Depends on who you ask

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Sometimes readers ask for more good news in the paper. They say we in the media only cover the bad.

But one person's positive is another's negative.

The other day, Erie Elementary School counselor Matt Beck won a national award. He is in New York this week to accept it. And he'll go to the governor's mansion next month.

While Beck considers this positive, his superiors aren't exactly welcoming the news.

I asked Erie Superintendent Brad Cox for his reaction.

"There isn't any reaction to this award," he said. "We are proud of all of our teachers and the recognition they get from outside organizations."

After consulting with Cox, Tricia Bianchetta, the elementary school's principal, sent an email ordering employees not to speak with students about the award.

So why the lack of enthusiasm?

It's because Beck is getting the award from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network for his efforts pushing a diversity curriculum in the elementary school. Those lessons included "The Family Book," which has one sentence that upset some parents, "Some families have two mom or two dads."

In May 2012, the school board voted 5-2 against using the book and other materials by the network.

Because of that decision, Cox and Bianchetta could ill afford to praise an employee for getting an award for his efforts pushing a curriculum rejected by their superiors.

As such, it appears Beck won't get any recognition from the Erie school leadership (although a board member who supported "The Family Book" congratulated him).

By no means is this the only instance in which an award winner gets a less-than-enthusiastic local reaction.

In 1964, Atlanta's political establishment reacted coolly to its native son Martin Luther King Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize.

This is how a 2002 story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution described it:

"Europe treated the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. like royalty in October 1964, when he won the Nobel Peace Prize. But in his native Atlanta, the civil rights leader was almost without honor.

"Plans for an interracial banquet in tribute to King caused a tempest in a still-segregated city and had everyone guessing who was coming to dinner. And it took a blunt warning from the city's most influential industry to eventually set things right."

That industry was Coca-Cola.

According to King aide Andrew Young's book, "An Easy Burden," the chairman of Coca-Cola told Atlanta's business leaders, "It is embarrassing for Coca-Cola to be located in a city that refuses to honor its Nobel Prize winner. We are an international business. The Coca-Cola Co. does not need Atlanta. You all need to decide whether Atlanta needs the Coca-Cola Co."

The dinner went on.

So was it good news or bad?

To much of the country, it was good. Many locals saw otherwise.

Sound familiar?

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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