Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our society hates us, folks. Much as some of it might absolutely love us, base businesses on our every whim, and put us on a gilded pedestal, it is a skin deep, fair-weather kind of love. We must face it now - we are at the bottom of the barrel in more ways than we could ever have possibly fathomed before we jumped in on this enterprise that will consume at least a decade of our lives, if not more, because, after all, it is a crapshoot.

I am speaking of us parents, a group to which I became a part of once I gave birth and made the conscious choice to raise the being to which my husband and I gave life.

A fellow blogger recently bemoaned the silence that seems to dog us parents and shuts us out of seriously opening up to each other concerning the cold, hard truths about the business of rearing a child in this day and age. It is frustrating as all hell. And it never ends. Those feelings never go away, it is simply the same shit, different stage of development. I wish I could be more optimistic, but the older my son gets, the more distressed I get.

I saw a book recently titled The Feminine Mistake, in which the author goes on about this decision that mothers have been taking to get out of the regular workforce to raise their kids and how much that decision is hurting the cause of feminism as a whole. I saw the synopsis on the back of the book and wanted to throw it across the store. Fine. Women are still damned if they stay at work with a child to raise and damned if they stay at home to do the raising. I don't need to spend $16.95 plus tax to have another aspect of the choices I've made pressing me down into the ground any further. Respectfully, Leslie Bennetts, go make yourself more useful and start putting your weight behind paid family leave, health care for all children, national child care, and more flexible working schedules for parents. Then we can talk.

Because then I might be able to round up more of us parental units in order to successfully fight such purposefully pointed decisions such as those made by these folks - decisions designed to exclude the members of the community that they are supposed to be helping.:

I went to last Thursday night's briefing on the state of the (Recovery School District) facilities master plan and the millage renewal campaign. I've previously reported on the use of mixed messaging that ties millage renewal to approval of the master plan but this event appropriately separated the briefings.

Did you know that the meeting I attended at the Dryades YMCA was the last public presentation of the status of the facilities master plan before it will be put to a binding vote?

I didn't.

The briefing room at the Y had about 50 people in it. I would say that 30 or so of the people in the room were employees of Concordia/Parsons, the RSD, or the OPSB. There were very few actual community stakeholders present.

I noticed this right away and took out the day's T-P to see if Concordia people had notified the public of the meeting. They had not. When I inquired about this I was told that over 5,000 emails had been sent out. When I pressed - email isn't exactly the premier way of reaching public school parents in New Orleans - I was told that my point was well taken.

The whole exercise was ridiculous. One official bemoaned citizen apathy as the reason for low turnout but when I asked whether or not fliers had ever been mailed to RSD parents or given to students to bring home for this meeting or any other throughout the so-called citizen participation process, I was told that packages had been dropped off at schools but that "it helps to have good principals."

I asked representatives of Concordia to commit to holding another properly advertised briefing before the master plan goes before the bodies expected to vote on it but was rebuffed.

Whose children are being educated here? The Concordia reps' ? I doubt it.

And then I learn of this documentary, sponsored by New Schools for New Orleans, among others. The optimism within it is staggering, even admirable. The reality is suspect.

The "promise" of the 57% of schools in the city that are charters absolutely positively needs to include the parents. Especially since the charters in the documentary are RSD charters, and we know how well the RSD itself is doing at working with the community.

And, in terms of the charters being able to create their own curriculum....the curriculum of at least one subject in particular will be under the control of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, to which the RSD answers, thanks to our current governor's victory that will sneak creationism into the schools. Let's look at this again:

Few took notice of a provision in the bill that gives the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unprecedented power to prohibit materials approved by local school boards. This is a politically appointed board and the bill provides no guidelines for making such Draconian decisions. This runs completely counter to the conservative principles Jindal cited in supporting the bill. In the same Face the Nation interview, he stated his philosophy, "I don't think that this [teaching evolution in schools] is something that federal or state governments should be imposing its views on local districts. You know, as a conservative, I think that government that is closest to the people governs best. I think local school boards should be in the position of deciding their curricula and also deciding what students should be learning." He has now signed a law that gives unprecedented powers to the state over local school boards - hypocritical on most days.

Hypocritical, indeed. The hypocrisy goes well beyond how science is taught to our children. It also goes right into the idea that schools can be run as businesses. That they can also please the higher-ups in that corporate scenario, which are apparently the politicians. Hey, anybody remember what these charters are supposed to be? Hell, even I forget from time to time, because I too am referring to them as charters.

They are schools, for crying out loud. Meant to educate our children.

And most folks wonder where despair comes from...


Michael Homan said...

Sure Leigh, they're schools meant to educate our children. But sadly to many they are untapped wells of cash, and a means by which administrators can get rid of personnel without repercussions.

Mark Folse said...

No, I'm sure all of the Concordia folks kids are safely stashed at someplace like Lusher (if they're not at Newman or Country Day). Lusher's facilities are fine for an old building, including that nice gym built by the German Marshall Fund of the United States. That outfit was established by German industrialists to replay the U.S. for Marshal Fund efforts at WWII. Hey, at least somebody gets the scope of what happened down here.

I was active in the Mid-City group during the planning process. While it reinvigorated the neighborhood association, all of the planning processes down here were a sham, cover for what was really going on. This is no different.

We are being ridden down by carpetbaggers and scaliwags. It's time to move one from the planning process, and start considering where to buy hot tar and pillow feathers.