Sunday, Nov. 4, 2007 | For many years the San Diego Children’s Museum has held out The Museum School like it was some kind of “trophy wife.” The museum staff took credit for the several Governor’s Awards won by the students and teachers, and called on the students to appear at fundraising events and to appear next to potential donors to the museum’s building accounts. This has been done to ostensibly gather money to build a new children’s museum with space for The Museum School. For the past five years of the 10 years the school has been in existence, the school has rented temporary quarters and has anxiously awaited the new building to be completed. Their family and friends have donated time and money to help bring the museum where it is today. Imagine then, the heartbreak when suddenly, without any warning, they are told they are not moving to the new building, even though there is an area that was designed for them. Three Children’s Museum board members, and their new executive director came to the school to tell the families that they wanted to open the museum up to a greater number of students. This is an excuse to wrestle away the space promised the school so the museum staff can offer for sale to the highest bidder naming rights to the classrooms (now, exhibit halls). After selling off every square foot dedicated to the museum, they eyed the school rooms as instant revenue streams, separated only by the students waiting to sit in seats promised them years ago by a caring board. For the teachers, staff, students, family, friends, and supporters that have waited for this day of entering the classrooms, tough luck. It isn’t fair. It would be as if someone collected money from a large group to go to Disneyland, get you all in the car for a ride, and drive you to El Centro. Then they rent a room for all of you to cram into, and then tell you all goodbye as they drive on to Disneyland, without you.
Why anyone would want their name on a room stolen from kids is beyond me. And why the museum board as a whole body, would allow this greed into the learning experience of young students is shameful. The Children’s Museum is not a place for social-climbing arrogance, or to enrich fundraisers’ personal bank accounts. It’s a place, above all others, for the children.
I hope this was just a “fire drill,” and that the museum board will turn down this power play by a few staff and members, and vote to allow the students to take the seats promised them.