Why I’m angry…

Posted: August 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round.

~Dixie Chicks, Not ready to make nice

I’m angry.

I try to not be angry.

Mostly, I think anger is a wasted emotion. It’s a knee-jerk reaction that covers up a deeper issue.

I’ve been angry a lot lately.

The last few weeks have been stressful. Well, to be completely honest, my entire summer has been stressful. However, the last few weeks have been over the top. At first I just thought it was a combination of a lack of sleep and money stress with some bored kids tossed it to stir the pot. Then I had a “you never get enough sleep or have enough money and your kids are always rambunctious” aha moment. So, April had to dig a little deeper…down to the real root of the problem.

I don’t fit in.

(Insert dramatic music and great sobs and wailing. Fade to widescreen shot of a sad tree at dusk in late fall.)

We have a couple of really big issues going on in my school system right now. The first is an upcoming election for a school bond that will mean millions of dollars of renovations for my school. (This is where I went to school. This is where I teach and this is where my own children are supposed to attend when they’re older.) It also means upgrades to several elementary schools and a completely new high school for our big rivals. (Ooooh, what kind of music would John Williams compose for that movie? Or is it more along the lines of Hans Zimmer? Heck, maybe give Randy Newman a try…really mix it up!)

Our school building authority (SBA) wants to give us money…Big heaping piles of money!…to make these upgrades. New science rooms, expanded media center and cafeteria, safer bus loading zones…lots of good stuff! We just have to pass a bond.

What could be so hard about that? We have almost ridiculously low property rates compared to other parts of the country and it’s only a few dollars a month for most people. Folks, I will GLADLY trade my Netflix subscription for a top of the line science lab for my want to be marine biologist daughter….I can cut back on my cell phone plan if it means my youngest 2 children get to sing in an actual choir room and not in the cafeteria. I will even stop drinking Diet Pepsi if it means I don’t have to worry that my oldest son can safely get on a school bus instead of being right on the road with cars whipping by.

You know I’m serious if I’m willing to give up my Diet Pepsi.

The other big issue in my school system…well, it’s a big ol’ heaping mess. Someone smoked meth in our career center. The principal of our career center and one of the instructors have been arrested on related charges. Both are on paid administrative leave while under investigation.The career center and community college have been shut down pending clean up.

People in the community are understandably upset.

(Here comes the “I don’t fit in” part.)

I think our BOE did the right thing in suspending them with pay while it’s all getting sorted out. I actually (foolishly?) believe they’re innocent until proven guilty. They may or may not be convicted. As far as I know neither has confessed to anything. They may actually be innocent!

(That said, I don’t care whether they did it or not. Someone did and it’s going to cost almost 200K to clean up meth residue at the school. I don’t know if it was just someone thinking they wouldn’t get caught or someone so horribly addicted they couldn’t help it. I don’ t know and I don’t care. Someone screwed up…they should be made to pay for it.)

(Here comes another  “Why I’m angry” bit.)

People are lumping the 2 issues together.

Because someone smoked meth in our career center, people are planning to vote no on our bond. Here’s a few of the comments floating around the Facebook today.
“I will be voting NO regardless……The Drug Teacher need to take their drug money and replace the Career and Technical /College now.”
“How much you wanna bet they use the bond money to clean up the vocational center???”
“Kids can go without text books just so we can pay these dope heads to sit at home. VOTE NO!”
“Until the BOE gets these teachers under control they’re not getting another dime of my money.”
“The other school is getting a brand new school and we’re just getting a new parking lot! I’m not paying for them to have a new school.”

People in my community are willing to condemn an entire generation of our kids to outdated, overcrowded buildings because someone got high on school property. (Is it possible that I’m oversimplifying the issue? Yes. Is that better than overcomplicating it? I think so.)

I don’t fit in because I want better for my children than what I had and I’m willing to cough up the money to make it happen.

Our school is okay but it is not good enough. I want better. They deserve better. I will not be content to raise children whose only options are coal mining or welfare.

My daughter wants to be a marine biologist. She’s 11 and already knows that she’s going to have to take every science class she can to make that dream a reality. The science labs I sat in are not good enough for her.

My other daughter wants to be a singer. Right now we’ve got 2 music teachers in one room. If the bond passes, we’ll have separate spaces for choral and instrumental music. My daughter should not have to learn how to sing in the cafeteria. The cafeteria is not good enough for her.

My boys have no idea what they want to be. I’m completely okay with that. They don’t need to know. My girls don’t need to know…they just know what they want right now. No matter what they decide to do when they’re older…no matter what path they decide to take in high school and beyond, I want to know that they’ve had every opportunity to prepare themselves for it.

Here’s the kicker...I want that for every child. Every kid in my district deserves nothing less than the best. Yes, even our rivals who could end up with a new school…they deserve it They all deserve it.

So, back to April digging deep and uncovering what’s beneath the anger…I think I made a mistake. I actually had a conversation a week or so ago about why I liked living where I do. My typical response has been this: I like knowing who my kids are going to school with. It’s a small community. My children go to school with the children of people I went to school with…and I really am happy with that. It also helps that I live near family as a single parent. Choosing to live here was the smart choice…or so I thought.

Now I’m thinking I screwed up.  This isn’t the place I want to be. This isn’t the place I want my kids to be. I don’t want to live and work in a place where people are this short-sighted…where they’d hurt their own child’s education because another kid will get “more” than them. I guess it’s not really anger I’m feeling, it’s regret for making a wrong choice. It’s also a feeling of loss for the community I thought I had.  Do I think the people who plan to vote no don’t care about the education their kids are getting? Not at all. I just think they’re letting other issues cloud their judgement…and that will just hurt all of us in the long run.

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