MUSE WITH ROOS-There is hardly a day that goes by in which I do not, as a public school parent, wish fervently for all this toil and tribulation surrounding our beleaguered public education just to end.
Toil: as an engaged parent and practically professional volunteer the demand for un-remunerated labor simply never ends.
Yet all the same and perhaps ironically, it is not this toil that brings one to one’s knees. The truth is simply that: it is a privilege to work for the common good. Even for free.
The same cannot be said for the all-out cataclysmic assault waged by the reigning class of the better-off on all the rest of all the others of us. Exploiting the compulsion of altruism, the concerted effort of the moneyed class to flip the commons into a private ghetto of profit and patronage just never, ever ends. Hence, the Tribulation. I fret and worry and gnash my teeth every day at how the wealthy educationeers, the privatizers and ideologues wrap a yarn around my children’s educational experience, condescending to impose conditions they would never for an instant countenance upon their own children. Massive class sizes (approaching 50, which is never reflected anywhere in reported or regulated averages), and teensy, tinsy budgets and decrepit surroundings and a grim educational grind of homework out the yin-yang and tests out the wazoo with nary an enriching field trip in sight. Harassed teachers and incompetent or corrupt administration and untold harm being meted upon the heads of our young, however inadvertently or collaterally.
This is the daily grind that inspires the following to float through my consciousness, words in my anguish I sometimes liken in hyperbole to testimony from an Amnesty International radio broadcast of the ’80′s: “you have only to say the words to make it all stop, it’s easy… say it now – why do you resist“. But I won’t do it, I won’t sign the checks or whisper the blarney to an admissions gatekeeper: “Your school is the perfect match for my child; the fit is unerring and the cost immaterial – deliver my child to a secure future; we are yours to direct“.
I won’t do this because it is anti-democratic, it is untrue and it is the action of the conquered.
Make no mistake about it, the neglect and corruption that grows so wearisome is an incessant, insidious assault on the lower classes (you, me and our neighbors), to coerce flight from our basic human right for an expansive education and free association.
Because in giving up on these schools as places where education should be, can be and in large measure is offered, if not adequately assimilated, we are condoning the conflation of poverty and scarcity and social hardship into a single, solitary surrogate misnomer, blazoned ‘educational failure’. This ignominious list is the instrument of a private, monied class that would starve us from our public institutions atrophied by neglect, and into unregulated and opaque, essentially private “schools of choice” created by themselves to benefit themselves. The end game is one of isolation and segregation.
To vilify these institutions rather than rectify them is to encourage a sort of social cannibalism. Rather than honor our own society and industry we turn in on and destroy it. We are our own teachers, we the people who constitute our civil servants, our own societies’ middle management made up of us – we constructed our own institutions of public learning and we should see to it that their promise is affected. Allowing these to be drained of value by a private class who opt not to partake of it and would instead benefit from its demise is the very worst form of self-hatred: self-destruction.
This new reign of educational order involves a revolution in instructional material, all to be paid into the new coffers of the new rulers. There are no text books, only reams of untested “worksheets” that clutter up our children’s lives and psyche. Cynically imposing pedagogically random problems and systems onto our kids, freighting them with widespread anxiety and unmitigatable stress from problems unsolvable, is a new form of rather old torture.
The way to make it stop is to go elsewhere, to flee the public schools to private ones where class sizes are small enough that children receive individualized attention from teachers and academics are supported with amenities and homework is (arguably) more smart and constrained.
Alternatively we can make it stop by retaining public funds for public schools and insist that these be adequate to the task of supporting people sufficiently to teach our children well, in comfortable surroundings comparable to that of the ideologues motivated to appropriate public monies.
Services needed should be services rendered: special education, arts education, physical education, honors education, ethnic education – these are niceties neglected in service of profit that our public schools must never relinquish because we must not relinquish these for our children. This is the education our children deserve and we should – fatigue notwithstanding – none of us stop while any of us are denied it.
(Sara Roos is a politically active resident of Mar Vista, a biostatistician, the parent of two teenaged LAUSD students and a CityWatch contributor, who blogs at redqueeninla.com)
Vol 12 Issue 94
Pub: Nov 21, 2014