EDUCATION POLITICS - Two years after graduating, an LAUSD alum informed his school board that the water fountain that had been broken when he arrived in school as a freshman, remained broken still.
There is a water fountain located in the foyer of an LAUSD auditorium that was smothered in black and white mold three years ago. In order not to scare audience members the scene was hidden from view by taping it over with a plastic bag. Because no water fed this fixture, cleaning it was not a trivial matter. And so the plastic bag remains to this day, the alchemy of animation proceeding apace beneath its dark covering. The fountain is broken still.
The broken water fountain is a meaningful icon. Just as the water fountain symbolizes an institution’s commitment to public health, its chronic, long-term disrepair is emblematic of LAUSD’s unyielding inability to maintain its school’s infrastructure in support of our children’s basic needs. Conversely, its repair was dangled as a poisonous quid pro quo for permitting a private enterprise to co-locate on the afflicted campus. Precisely this sort of respect for basic human needs is promised — and afforded — by charters at the expense of district public schools: “We [an outside school operator] would fix it”, they whisper.
So the question becomes: Why won’t LAUSD? Why won’t LAUSD fix its schools crumbling to the ground? It’s not as if this is a situation tolerated by taxpayers: we want our children to live within adequate, safe structures. It is for this reason that we, the people, have taxed ourselves via school bond measures specifically to redress facilities deficits.
And yet, the water fountains remain unrepaired. Perhaps the rumor that there is just one plumber remaining on LAUSD’s staff explains the situation? Even if wrong by several degrees, there is little doubt there is insufficient personnel to fix its broken plumbing. Or clean its bathrooms. Or maintain its grounds. Or repair dangerous blacktops or gym floors. Neither is there sufficient staff, apparently, to operate its health offices or repair its musical instruments or run its libraries or even adequately man its classrooms. Admittedly these latter deficits have likely crossed the staffing divide between facilities maintenance and personnel operations.
But the relationship is emphatic: schools are complex institutions that require attention to a multitude of interrelated details from class size to functioning water fountains. We have appropriated proposition and bond monies to mitigate these matters, and yet the conditions in which too many of our children are forced to subsist remain intolerable.
And so the question remains: Why? Why is Proposition 30 money not felt in the classroom? What happened to the construction bond money? Why do the water fountains remain unfixed?
Where have all monies gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the fixers gone?
Long time ago…
Where have all the workmen gone?
Gone to iPads every one.
When will they ever learn?
When will we ever learn … to watch the people in charge of our money!
Every single last one of us Angelenos should be asking our school board members why we are devoting funds reserved for facilities construction and maintenance, to purchase electronics-toys.
Every single last one of us should be wondering why our painful decisions to raise taxes in order to increase funds available to our students results in class sizes pushing fifty. Every single last one of us should be recognizing that since we do not, and cannot, deny ourselves or our own children the staff of life, we ought never deny this of anyone else’s child either. It is high time that every single last one of LAUSD’s water fountains is, and continues to be, made to work.
Hold your public LAUSD officials — both elected and appointed — accountable! Ask them why a sweetheart deal to acquire gratuitous, ephemeral electronics is being funded by funds dedicated for facilities necessities. How can this be? Without your expressed outrage over the misuse of our tax dollars, this shortchanging of our children will continue unabated.
Contact these folks and demand scrutiny of the iPad boondoggle:
(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 11 Issue 72
Pub: Sept 6, 2013