First they came for the [insert-race/religion/philosophy-here]…

gorillaThis morning, things looked bleak for the Buena Vista School district. No plan seemed to be in sight for the schools to re-open, instead, federally funded optional summer “skills camps” were in the works. This sounded awful to me. Who would be the teachers and how much training and experience would they have? What about the curriculum? Would it be delivered over an iPad (or more likely, a bunch of battered old desktops from the Jurassic Age)? Would the kids get any time for art, music, theatre, recess, daydreaming, etc., etc., etc. By the end of the day, it seems possible that the school district *may* be able to re-open to finish the school year after all.

I hope this works out. I remain astounded at the state of public education in this state. Who is to blame? Not in any particular order but… 1) School boards and administrations for not being fiscally responsible (and sometimes downright corrupt). 2) VOTERS (people like you and me) who vote incompetent and/or corrupt school board members into office. 3) Our state government. Yes. Governor Snyder shares the blame. He has raided the school aid fund to provide a tax break for businesses. I am sure that businesses *need* tax breaks but I think raiding the school aid fund was the wrong way to fund those breaks. Many school districts are struggling, including the affluent Planet Ann Arbor Schools. We are not likely to close in the near future but we need to cut 8.67 million for next year (that links to a very competent, honest A2 school board member who I would vote for again in a heartbeat (p.s. she has no idea who I am…)). So, why do I care about Buena Vista? Please see title… The citizens of our state (and others — hello Louisiana) need to push back against efforts to defund education to the point where public schools have to close their doors. We as taxpaying citizens have a responsibility to VOTE for competent, honest representatives at all levels of government, starting with the school board. Those we vote for have a responsibility to ensure that our children have decent public schools to attend.

Enough of that. I have had an intense, lifelong interest in education, my own, my kids’, pre-school through whatever level you get to. If I could have my druthers, I would dictate that we do *not* decimate public education. I would decree that we *enrich* public education, pay our teachers (who are *professionals*) what they deserve. I would make sure that children receive rigorous education in the basics aka reading, writing (!), math, science, social studies and the arts. Yes, to me *art* is basic. Also, physical education and team sports are important but I would argue for more recess time where kids can explore and play whatever impromptu games they dream up.

Summer? Kids should *not* have to be subjected to drill and kill during the summer. I am not categorically against drill and kill. I actually *loved* drill and kill when I was a kid. Don’t ask (I am a nerd…) but I do think it has its place. Still, I wish that every kid had the childhood that I had. Every year, the day after school got out in June, we moved out to our cabin, seven miles or so up the river. I packed my stuff in a bushel basket. My dad could drive to town to his bank job every day and we could run pretty much wild. The caveats were that we did not go swimming without getting an adult to watch us (which we almost always could, even though they might have to put a winter jacket on to watch us) and we did not THROW SAND!!! Every single blasted kid who grew up spending summers on that beach has been told DON’T THROW SAND!

I wish that all kids could have the kind of summer opportunities that I had (and make no mistake, we were NOT ANYWHERE NEAR the 1%. In those days, we were probably somewhere down in the lower reaches of the god-forsaken, unwashed 47%). Still, I never had any trouble recovering academic skills when school started in the fall. In fact, I was annoyed that we always had to review stuff from the last year. Partly that was just meeee but partly it was because my brother and my cousins and I had a whole summer to run free, swim, play, do acrobatics, read library books (on windy days in the top bunk), create castles or even whole cities in the sand, dig to China, *bury* each other in the sand, go on field trips with our moms laughing uproariously in the front seat. I know that most kids don’t get these kinds of opportunities in the summer but I don’t think that any “skills camp” could ever replace them.

3 Responses to “First they came for the [insert-race/religion/philosophy-here]…”

  1. Sandy Says:

    We have the “beach rules” framed in the cabin, just in case the G4 or G5 or whatever generation we are on haven’t been told. Being able to run wild was great — lots of kids at similar ages to build rafts, forts, play boards games or canasta, and generally have fun.

  2. Margaret Says:

    I had lovely summers growing up until I started picking berries and working in canneries to earn money every summer. Ugh. We will reap what we sow when we decimate public ed. As it is, not enough people want to go into education. There will be no one left to teach the children.

  3. jane Says:

    Forts! I had forgotten about the forts! and swimming out to the rafts! Wow we had a lot of fun. Still do actually… 😉