Published: The Huffington Post 2011-01-27
I did not see the Presidential State of the Union speech on Tuesday night.
I did not hear how we are in a Sputnik moment. I did not hear from the president that the Chinese are out-developing us, out-researching us, out-solaring us.
I got a look at the local state of the union. I was at my local school board meeting. It ran long. It was scary. (When I get the video of the meeting I will post it. I think you will find the board members' take on how government should work as fascinating. There are some real YouTube moments; if I can get the file.)
As the soaring rhetoric of President Obama told the nation how we are going to out-educate the world, my local school board was talking about how they dismantled a Transitional First Grade Program.
It got better as they all voted on increasing the police presence in the high school as they have "bought" a cop from one of the townships to patrol the high school. The other township is refusing to pay for the cop. (This is an affluent suburban Philadelphia district.) In the next breath, they were talking about the teachers that were about to be let go.
I think at that point President Obama was probably talking about high speed rail lines in China. The nine member board talked about how they are freezing the purchasing of textbooks, while spending $22,000-plus on wireless access points for the administration building. I am sure this is when the president was talking about South Korea's wifi initiative.
The school board, all 9 being members of the GOP, complained about how the stimulus money ran out and how they are going to have to sue a luxury senior facility in order to get some tax revenue from those who have checked out from society. I wonder if this is where Paul Ryan was chiming in on cutting everything?
The smartest person sitting at the table was a high school junior who is one of two token students allowed to attend the meetings. He ran circles around the superintendent. The student put clearly into focus how the school district is about and for the students. The kid was asking for a say in what is going on. He may be the only keeper of the group.
I am sorry, but as the president is trying to get this country to educate itself out of its problems, at the local level it is cut the taxes and cut the kids.
The board actually took 25 minutes out of the meeting (was Michele Bachmann on at this time?) to berate one of their own members for writing a letter to the editor about the demise of the Transitional First Program and how much they will be spending on athletic fields. They did this business on a snowy night when no one could show up at the meeting. But the rest of the school board ripped into the one guy who spoke up. One board member even went so far as to say that the Board Member could not write a letter to the editor identifying himself as a Board Member. (The video will be priceless).
No wonder the kids can't win. We have put them in a position where they already will owe everything they will work for during their lives. Out of college they will be saddled with debt. Out of high school they will be taught to tests and not to think critically. Our kids need to think their way out of this paper bag we have put them in.
In the public school system, teachers are thought of as expendable. I am sorry, but the teachers are the ones who interact with my kids -- not the administrators. The teachers help my wife and I put our kids into a slingshot to release them into the world. But they are pawns in the political games played by people with small minds.
The most appalling thing about this is: petitions for the November elections may now be circulated. Five of these nine seats are open this year.
No one is stepping up to run. Even AFTER a promise from the local Democratic Party to endorse the best people -- regardless of party affiliation.
I think I have seen this act before. The president steps up and puts out a solid and winnable goal. The Democrats (or other sane people) don't show up for the election fight. I am not just talking about elected officials here either.
The president talks globally while at the local level everything gets dismantled. No one steps up. No wonder our population can't win.
No wonder the Chinese are running circles around us.