Friday, December 18, 2009

When we are now told as Americans to "find a happy place", we'll know exactly where to go.

Of course what will temper the impulse people who don't live here might have to pull up their stakes and come running over the state line might be some facts on the ground concerning some crucial stuff that makes families want to settle here and stay put - you know, like the crime problem here, and the way the whole "school choice" thing is really playing out:
Education should not be left to a “last-minute miracle.” If that is our collective belief, then this is not a democracy and we should send all the working-class and middle-class kids home so the resources can be left to those who are lucky enough to be able to pay, lucky enough to live in x neighborhood, lucky enough to be part of y family that has owned q for t number of years and given f number of thousands to something or someone. That’s also not a meritocracy. If you are born into it, you didn’t earn it. And if you didn’t earn it, how can you say with a straight face that you believe in hard work, perseverance, and intelligence?

I’m making myself sick saying this: public education should not be hard to access. That is why it is PUBLIC. In other places, it’s not perfect but not nearly so hard.

Why do we here so admire the extraordinary, over-the-top efforts of parents to get a decent education for their kids? Why does this irritate so few? Or seemingly so? Does anyone realize, or believe, that education is not a privilege, a game you have to be lucky enough to win? That parents should not have to fight or bargain with any number of devils just for a school? Why is this so radical in LA?

There should be a few competitive, harder-to-get-into schools for the hard-core scholar or artist. But that shouldn’t be the only chance to get out alive.

My addendums to G's points:
KIPP also has Shawn Datchuk, who I wrote about a while back – he handles the special ed in McNair, I believe (My apologies - it's New Orleans College Prep where he works). The huge problem I have with these superhuman counselors and teachers is their burnout rate in these positions that overwork ‘em and mightily underpay ‘em. The grateful kids and parents can only sustain someone like this for so long. No one should ever be expected to be a saint for their employer, but the charters seem to regularly demand that of their employees. That is NOT the way this should work.

And I plotz every time I see a parent with that desperation in their eyes telling me he/she’s applied to get their kids into these schools – and I realize how powerless I am to even give them any sort of encouragement other than “Well, people move away and spots can open up – the mistake would be to not even TRY.” I want to shoot myself when I hear myself say such a pithy, pathetic thing, but that’s all that’s left when there aren’t even schools in the remains of the public education system here that ARE in the middle.

All of this is mightily f$#!ed.

The only other thing I feel is just as mightily messed is the Walking Id's snit over the budget. Stamping his foot and saying "No Mardi Gras stands for you!" is a move designed to burn his bridges around these parts. And eliminating Fridays as a workday for city employees only makes sense if all those people are converting to Judaism atop it'd make prep for Shabbat one hell of a lot easier...but I don't think these folks will want to give up their shellfish, so it will come down to Nagin standing on a dee-luxe ladder toasting the kings of Carnival as they stop at Gallier Hall.

74 more days, people.

1 comment:

G Bitch said...

I think this reliance on and lionizing of the superhuman, shining-light individual implies that there is no hope for some kids except a miracle. I don't buy that. Miracles are rare, not something on which you can build public policy [or children's lives].

I, too, see all these cuts as a Nagin hissy fit, aimed at quality of life and who doesn't like him and who looked at him funny last time. When the libraries closed on Fridays, I was sure at some point other city agencies would follow. And here it is. One last embarrassment before he hustles out. Did I say 'ugh' yet? Ugh.