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I gotta big problem with this.
Why did these children suffer anxiety at the possibility of school closure?
Why did these children have their lives disrupted and destabilized?
Why did one child feel as if he was not working hard enough to keep his school open?
Because of their parents.
There was a time when parents sought to shield their children from unnecessary stress and tension. For example, parents would keep financial hardship from their kids and choose to carry that burden themselves. Kids didn’t need to know. When difficult circumstances forced difficult changes into a child’s life, parents straightened their spines and did their job to smooth the transition for their children, and nurture them in their new situation. It was a small part of being a good parent.
Now we have uncertain times in our school district, and all cost-saving options MUST be considered. District staff, as requested by the board and operating prudently, made recommendations for possible school closures in order to maintain solvency and to keep the decision making processes within our control. Granted — these are not popular options, and is unsettling. They may not be fair, even-handed or the best course of action. Stuff happens.
But to run off and tattle-tale to one’s children? To drop that great pile of stress on a child? To purposely frighten a child about decisions that were yet unmade and not final? To trot little John or Jane down to the board to do the work of parents?
I understand school closures are unpleasant. I understand they are radical and upsetting, especially if one’s own school — a child’s home away from home — is on the list of possible closures. It’s maddening, and if our school was on the list, I’d fight for it too. But to use kids as political cannon fodder?
No. No way.
Insolvency is coming, folks, and there will be more bad news from our district. The difference will be the speed, indifference and finality with which these decisions will be made — decisions LONG overdue and inevitable. I believe even if the Hail Mary passes of pay cuts and parcel taxes are caught and run for a touchdown (that’s the limit of my sports metaphors) it will only postpone the inevitable and massive restructuring at San Diego Unified.
As parents, it is our choice to drag our children unprotected through these changes, frightened and uncertain of their futures, or wrap our loving arms around them, shield them from the uncertainty, then support and encourage them through these unavoidable changes of life.
What do you choose?
Paul M. Bowers lives in the city of San Diego.