"I oppose the closing of public schools for a simple reason. ... They are a public service, a public good. It is the obligation of public officials to provide good public schools in every neighborhood, not to privatize them or to act as an umpire whose role is to judge them defective and shut them down." Diane Ravitch
Last Friday I went to my first middle school dance in 32 years. I felt a little out of place but what was I supposed to do? My wife and I "volunteered" as chaperons, however, somehow I ended up at the dance alone (just like 32 years ago). I had a very important job to do. I had to stand around for two hours and make sure that all the kids were safe and the building was used appropriately (I refused to look under the bleachers). I guess I did my job, however, after about 30 minutes I started to think about Arnie Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee and the current school reform movement. I was overcome with anger and sadness.
So how is that chaperoning a middle school dance can lead to such negative thoughts? Easy. I looked around at the kids trying to "dance." I located my son and his friends doing the middle-school boys dance (hanging out). I listened to the deejay's attempts to get the kids "to move to the middle of the gym." I heard the music, watched the moving lights, and observed the smiling faces. And then it hit me. In two years or less the middle school dance will be no more. And then a lot of stuff hit me. In two years or less there will be no more proms, no more PTA bake sales, no more Christmas musicals, no more science clubs, no more school plays, no parent teacher conferences, no more elementary school Halloween parades, no more high school sweethearts -- and maybe most importantly in my community -- no more Friday night football games.
Why? Because in two years or less my school district will not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and this in turn will begin the process that honest school reformers (deformers) want -- the closing of my community's public-school system. That's it. One hundred-plus years of service to the local community will be over. The end of our community school district and the beginning of what, I'm not exactly sure. However, according the deformers it will be private and more importantly, the taxpayers will finally be off the hook and set free. Residents of our community will no longer have to contribute to the education of "other people's children." Welcome individual responsibility. If you choose to have a kid, then in the new system of liberty, it is your responsibility to educate them. My childless neighbors or those with kids no longer in the system will finally be free -- awesome!
Question: What about Friday night lights? What about the three generations of families present on Friday nights for football games (grandfather, father, and son)? Where will they go? What about the quarterback from 25 years ago eagerly awaiting his chance to cheer on the present day quarterback (his son)? What will the husband and wife that met 36 years ago under the lights (maybe under the bleachers) planning on attending the game together do instead? What about the college recruiters watching the drum major closely for the consideration of a scholarship? What about the cheerleaders and their new routine? Who cares? Those lights costs money and the community will finally be free!
Freedom to? I don't know but according the anti-public school deformers the community will benefit in a ways that are, um, again, I don't know? The anti-public school deformers have never really said or predicted the effects of closing down community-based public schools. But according to them the destruction of local, community-based public schools will be beneficial in ways we can't even imagine. Really? Above I just imagined what would happen in my community. And, I bet if more people in my community and others across the country actually considered the possibility of losing their community-based public school system -- the dances, plays, parades, bake sales, proms and football on Friday nights -- I have a feeling some of the residents might reconsider the deformers' plans for their local community. Because let's face it. It is a well-know fact that when a community loses it school the community loses its soul!
Follow Timothy D. Slekar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/slekar