The Kids Aren't O.k. -Closed Schools, Collapsing Dreams
The kids aren't alright. As the blogger for the MarinGOP I have spent a lot of time over the past nine months repeating the obvious and fighting battles that should have been settled two centuries ago. (Censorship started to "trend" a couple of months ago. There are actually ANTI Free Speech advocates out trolling the internet now. Which means I have been attempting to defend basic Constitutional principals with nothing more than a blog.) Confronting the crisis in the education system is something we should have done months ago. Actually... it is something America collectively should have done before I was born.
As a Millennial I can say that the education system --particularly the K-12 system-- has been failing America's children for most of my life. The education system hasn't failed EVERY kid. Some kids thrive no matter what. Some school districts really ARE doing a good job. And even in a bad school district --and we have too many bad school districts-- there are usually one or two good teachers who will give their all and then some. The kids who get the good teachers who care are the lucky kids. Sadly, not all kids get lucky. And it is frankly tragic that we have reached the point in this country that, as we spend more and more money to educate kids, we have actually abandoned a generation of children to "luck" and a "system" that even PRE shut-down had some serious and obvious flaws.
The flaws include, but are not limited to: A system that has become increasingly larded with bureaucracy (bureaucracy is bad for kids and teachers, but REALLY good for aspiring school administrators who want six figure salaries, school admin jobs have been growth positions in many school districts even as budgets for sports and music programs have evaporated): Too many "teachers" who are frankly marking time until they collect their pensions (teachers rightfully complain about low pay, however the benefits of a teacher pension and a defined benefits package should NOT be underestimated in an era when almost NO ONE in the private sector gets a defined benefits pension): Curriculum that does not prepare kids for college OR adult life --and definitely doesn't prepare kids for possible future careers: Educational fads that even the teachers don't seem to understand (if you want a rundown of some of the forgettable and ghastly educational fads of the last few decades this article has more than just "New Math"): And schoolboards that don't seem to care about kids OR parents.
This became glaringly obvious earlier this week when the trustees of the Oakley School District accidentally got caught on a hotmic --actually a hot zoom an interested parent was recording-- yukking it up deriding parents who wanted their kids to go back to school, whining about how under appreciated school trustees are, making threatening comments --until I saw Kim Beede on camera I truly did not believe there was ANYONE in elected office in the United States more embarrassingly self absorbed than Eric Swalwell, congratulations Ms. Beede... by comparison you make Congressman Swalwell seem slightly less embarrassing!-- and in general making it EXTREMELY obvious that as a group the Oakley School District trustees don't have any respect for the parents or kids with the misfortune to live in the Oakley School District. (The film actually went viral so quickly locally that within less than a week the entire Oakley School District board resigned.) You can see the very raw horrible eight minutes here.... I actually recommend sitting through the boring four minute intro so that you can appreciate the full tedious workaday horror of this group of people who probably spent a LOT of time patting themselves on the back telling each other what a great job they were doing.
The reason why the Oakley School District Trustees got caught out is a direct result of shutdown. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area --or any state where the political powers that be opted for a hard shut-down-- you are aware that we are approaching the one year anniversary of shut-down. In the San Francisco Bay Area this means that some kids in the public school system have not had "in-person" instruction for close to a year. (I say "public school system" because in many cases the private schools have re-opened. Which means that kids whose parents can scrape together tuition for private schools have been getting an education. Meanwhile kids in public schools are definitely getting the short end of the stick. Gavin Newsom, the proudly Progressive Governor of California who is currently facing a recall and has DEFINITE presidential goals, has been sending HIS four kids to a private school with "in-person" learning since October. So... while the Governor's kids are in the classroom roughly half of all counties in California aren't offering in person learning to public school kids. Maybe Progressives really DO like a two tiered system?) This also means that school board meetings --usually held during the commuter hour or just after the commuter hour when parents are trying to put dinner on the table and get ready for the hectic reality of the next day-- have gone virtual. Virtual schoolboard meetings are a LOT easier to attend, and a LOT easier to record. And parents whose kids are trapped in this failing system are rightfully angry and ready to make some waves.
If you are a Conservative in California you have probably heard some other Conservative claim that the reason the schools aren't re-opening is because the state is going broke and the Governor can't scrape together the money to re-open the schools. This is nonsense. Yes, financially the state of California is facing a looming fiscal crisis of epic proportions. But keeping the schools closed has nothing to do with a desire to save money. The schoolteachers, the administrators and the school nurses are still being PAID! In some cases school buildings are still being heated so that the staff can wander in and use the Wi-Fi free from the distractions of their own kids at home. The only people left out in the cold are the kids and the parents who want their kids to get an education.
Parents are reaching their breaking point dealing with a frankly broken education system. You can watch the viral video of this Virginia dad noting, correctly, that his kids are NOT being taught by the teachers. But we should not leave this fight to parents alone. Because we should not allow ANY American --particularly not a child-- to be so abused by a system that WE, as taxpayers, are paying for.
And we ARE paying for this system. We are paying taxes to support school districts that seem uninterested in teaching. We are paying taxes to support school districts that provide a substandard education at best. We are paying the salaries of administrators who have NO RESPECT for the taxpayers, the parents or the kids. (Luckily as Californians we aren't paying for Sarah Chambers' salary.... but we probably have our own local version of the San Juan vacationing Sarah Chambers.) We're paying for the lies of politicians who are eager to please school teacher's unions. And we're metaphorically allowing a generation of kids to be thrown under the bus.
I've said for years that the educational system is broken. This bothers a lot of the older Republicans I know who remember a VERY different school system and assume, optimistically, that school is a lot like it was when they attended schools. In reality our public schools have had problems for decades and they have gotten exponentially worse in the last few years. (The SATs have been dumbed down again and again so people can tell themselves scores aren't so bad. But the dumbing down of the SATs should be a dire warning that even schools obsessed with teaching for the test can't really teach for the test.) The cracks were appearing before I was born. But I am willing to accept responsibility that I haven't stepped up to the plate to try to do more to fix the problem. Because WE ALL need to be willing to fix this problem. We can't sit idly by and assume that the kids are alright. We can't sit idly by and assume that schoolboard trustees are worthy of the public's trust. And we REALLY CAN NOT ASSUME someone else will do something. Sometimes we have to be the ones who are willing to spend a few hours a week, or a few hours a month, making an effort to fix a problem decades in the making. Bad school districts thrive when good people think the problem is too big to fix. The children need our help. America needs every good conservative to step up to the plate and make an effort. Schoolboard elections matter. Schoolboard meetings matter. Kids deserve better than our failing systems.