I am a product of the public school system as I am sure many of you are and I am still a huge proponent of it. When many of my contemporaries were choosing to enroll their children in private schools, my wife and I moved out to Valencia specifically to take advantage of the tremendous public school system up here.
But don’t be fooled. Even though it is the public school system, it is an industry and, I am afraid to say it, they are putting themselves out of business.
Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, I was a ward of the Los Angeles Unified School District and subject to one of the largest unions in the city, the UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles). This is what I knew of the UTLA: They allowed the teachers to strike when they were upset.
As a young kid, the teachers’ issues of compensation, benefits, and union activity is as foreign as the lost language of Aramaic. They certainly meant nothing to me. So even though I heard that the teachers were not happy and that they were going to strike, I interpreted that as selfishness. Wasn’t my education more important than…?
When my wife and I were looking to move our home in anticipation of starting a family, we looked in areas that were, admittedly, outside of the LAUSD. This wasn’t specifically a snubbing of the school district that gave me so much, but was a statement that it was just too big, too unwieldy, and more importantly, too “political.” These characterizations, though, were still powerful in me 20 years after I departed its programs.
I have said it before and I will say it again and again and again: we as a society downplay or downright ignore the impact that our actions will have on our children. Whether it’s allowing more and more violence on television, loosening the restrictions on inappropriate language in the media, or venerating the sex-symbol teenyboppers, we do not think how children will see all of this.
This is why it is so very important that we show them how important they are, that we consider the impact our actions and conduct will have on the succeeding generations.
And it starts with our schools.
Yeah yeah yeah, Rob, you’ve said it before. But you’re going to want to listen to this one. Because now, my ire and fury is not focused on the teachers or the unions, but on the school district itself and its board of governors.
So to the Saugus Union School District, the superintendent, the governor, and whoever else has determined that public school education is not important, I say this: SHAME ON YOU!!!
You have determined that our money, that the taxpayers’ money, would be better spent on extra assistants for you and for who knows what else, instead of using that money for its necessary purposes, like teachers and materials and art and music programs.
My friends, the word has come down from on high that teachers will be losing their jobs and that class sizes will be increasing. All budgetary issues, for sure, but of budgetary issues my children know not. Consider the way Charlie Brown’s parents (and teachers – ha!) speak and that is what children will hear when they see their favorite teachers being fired, their desks being pushed closer together to get more into the classroom, and their art and music programs being taken away. They won’t hear, “There isn’t enough money.” They won’t hear, “The legislature hasn’t allocated enough money for public education.” And they certainly won’t hear, “This hurts us more than it hurts you.”
No, instead this is what they hear:
“You aren’t important enough to us to figure another way and we do not think that your education is as important as some of the other things we can do with the money.”
We as a society fail to consider how our children will interpret our actions. And now it seems that those with whom we entrust our children are the biggest offenders.
Shame on you!