Saturday, April 13, 2013

At the end of the day

This is one of the VERY few times Maude will ever weigh in on a politically charged issue.  Basically, she's all over the place politically anyway, but sometimes, and it seems like when it comes to children, she tends to give her opinion quite freely.  For as much as she jokes about wanting to sell her kids on craigslist, at the end of the day she's so thankful for their presence in her life, and believes that all children have a right to a free, appropriate public education:

I, Maude, work in public education.  I currently work in a district that over the past few years has cut 640 teaching positions, countless classified & administrative positions, programs and more just to stay in business.  All the while being forced to pay for a failing public retirement system that many don’t even want.

However, I’m not going to discuss PERS reform, or defend the school district’s spending habits because quite frankly we can all sit around and piss and moan about it, and it’s not going to be any different than it was when the rest of us were in school.  It is what it is.  

I am quite certain our parents and their parents, and countless parents since the dawn of time had to scratch out on a stone tablet or punch a card in a ballot booth a yes or no to a school district levy.  I believe that while those decisions were hard, inevitably they made the right choice:  YES.

Do you remember the campaign for schools that reflected the inequity in funding to schools that was so poor schools had to have bake sales to pay for teachers and the government was spending tons of money on big giant bombs?  I remember.  And I don't see that much has changed.  Except maybe the bomb part, but public education funding has gotten no better.

Folks, this isn’t the first time our economy has been in turmoil, unemployment high and countless other excuses why we refuse to accept our civic duty, and responsibility, to support our youth, that at the same time we are being asked to set aside what we perceive as roadblocks and to do the right thing.

Are taxes painful?  Yes.  Are increases in taxes painful?  You betcha.  Is there a better way?  There might be, but at the end of the day, voting NO won’t solve anything.

What I really want to talk about are the people who are most affected by the cuts.  It’s not our teachers, it isn’t our retirees, it isn’t administration, and it’s not our classified staff.  No, it’s the children.

I am so tired of reading all the bullschmidt from people finger pointing, blaming and armchair quarterbacking the decisions of the school district where I work.  At the end of the day, it’s the children who are impacted, so negatively, by the lack of funding.

No amount of complaining, anecdotal budget analysis or down with PERS rhetoric will ever change or do anything to improve the current state of affairs.  At the end of the day, it is what it is.

I really wish people would think to count their blessings that they may have been completely oblivious to these same challenges that our parents faced when we were in school and still managed to receive the best education that they deserve.  At the end of the day, we were all just children once.

Anyone who wants to vote no on the upcoming levy, I invite you to walk the halls of your nearest public school.  Stop in, take a look around.  Visit a couple of crowded classrooms.  Ask a teacher what THEY think about PERS.  Ask a student if they like sitting on the floor during history class.  Do whatever you need to do to feel like you truly understand the need, or perceived lack of, the upcoming levy.  

While you’re there, please look in the eyes of the children who will someday be your doctor, your accountant, hell, maybe even your boss.  Look in their eyes and tell them that they aren’t worth it to you, that it’s more important to complain about things we cannot change than to do what is right for the children, and what was done for us.

If at the end of the day you can look in the eyes of a child (yes, even high school students are children) and tell them face to face that you don’t think they are as important as avoiding a levy because you’re unhappy with the current state of affairs, then vote NO and live with the knowledge that you haven’t done everything you can to make sure that these children have the same opportunity that you did.  

And so you know, I was one of those who lost their job last year, and one of the lucky few who found another one shortly after the school year started.  

Our family just purchased a home here, which means we pay taxes on a home in another state (that we’ll probably never be able to sell) and we’re going to pay taxes on our home here.  

I make 50% less than I did before we moved here.  Our income has taken a hit.  I’ve been employed almost as much as I’ve been unemployed since we moved here three years ago.  And here’s the kicker folks:  I send my kids to a private school.  Not because of my lack of faith in public education, but because I want them to have a religious education.  That’s it. 

And I’m voting YES on the levy.  Because, at the end of the day, it isn’t about anything other than the children who will someday grow up to be the very people that care for me in my old age, that will hire my children and grandchildren, and the same group of people who, in all likelihood will be faced with this same decision to make: YES or NO on another school district levy.

I hope we demonstrate as a community that these kids matter.  That they are worth of a better education than what they’re getting.  That they deserve our support, no matter how painful it might be at times for us to do so.  I never once heard my parents complain about having to pay more taxes to give us a better education.  

Where in our right minds did we ever decide that it was OK for us to do so? Publicly, online, in print.  In front of our children.  Shame. On. Us.

No amount of second guessing PERS, district expenditures or anything else is going to change that fact that, at the end of the day, these are all children:  someone’s daughter, son, niece, nephew, or grandchild. 

And they are important.  

And THEY deserve your support.