Thursday, May 22, 2008

Earnest as I Want to Be.

This is an earnest post. A post from the SOUL including CAPITAL LETTERS which FLOW like TEARS from the DEEPEST recesses of my BEING (It's dusty back there.) There will by no sarcastic jabs. No irony. No prostituting one's talents for laughs. Only REAL EMOTION rioting over the page, unfettered by the chains of SHAME and STYLISTIC PRINCIPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Especially not stylistic principle. Stylistic principle is the Emperor Palpatine of blogging.

In all earnestness, though, there is something hideously, SOUL-SHATTERINGLY wrong with K-12 education in the U.S. This is not to say there's not a lot right with K-12 education: schools are stuffed to the gills with well-meaning, orderly women (plus a few weedy, jovial men) who work like dogs in the service of our children. But there's a fly in the ointment, and after a few months working where I do, I'd hazard that at least part of that fly (the wings, maybe) is Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Let's sneak up on my point, cat-like, from a different direction. I live in a city. My city has a Large Urban School District (LUSD). People avoid LUSD like the plague. Unless you are poor, a minority, or do not speak English, it is common wisdom that you MUST find an alternative to LUSD. The results are manifold. Private schools spring up like mushrooms. LUSD schools, stripped of all students but the poor and difficult-to-educate (private schools tend to encourage uncontrollable kids to leave) struggle, leading parents who have the financial wherewithal to flee. You reach a point where SENDING YOUR CHILD TO PUBLIC SCHOOL IS CONSIDERED BAD PARENTING.

I have actually heard this said aloud, most recently by a parent returning to LUSD after her special needs kiddo was thrown out of Catholic school. I just wanted the best for my son, was what she said.

I just want the best. Give her the best. Treat yourself to the best. Where have we heard this before? Oh, wait! THE MALL. And on T.V., and in newspapers, and laser-printed on our grubby little consumerist souls. Excuse me: SOULS. In our free-market economy, buying things is about making choices. Choices -our "pursuit of happiness"- make up who we are. Ergo, the moment something goes on sale is the moment it becomes a status symbol, an identity marker, a class distinction, a boundary.


Phew. Gotta go. Earnestness makes me sleepy.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Boy I hear you here. It is curious that the acronym you came up with for your school district (LUSD) is remarkably similar to the acronym for the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). I actually didn't notice at first and it didn't change the content of your post any.