Nearly two weeks after almost everyone else has gone back to school, the 16,000 kids in our school district are still on summer vacation. This is because the teachers went on strike rather than accept the school board’s current contract proposal.
As you can imagine, many people – especially working parents screwed for child care – are up in arms about this, and so many showed up to last night’s open school board meeting that dozens were turned away for lack of space. Luckily, the district thoughtfully provided a live stream online, which if you are fortunate enough to have a super-fast computer and a high-speed internet connection, was a great option. Unfortunately though, I doubt this was the case for the many parents in our district who live on salaries similar to those of our teachers.
In any case, of the parents, teachers and principals who showed and did get in, many got up to speak, and for the most part the comments were uncommonly well-prepared. One woman, however, used the phrase “Gestapo-like tactics” to describe the school board’s behavior. Now one may or may not agree with the school board, but this woman needs to get a serious grip, as well as a history lesson. The Gestapo, hello, were the Nazi police, and they humiliated, tortured and murdered thousands upon thousands of victims based on their religion, sexual orientation or political views. They did this in support of a regime that went on to murder millions for the same reason. There is not a school board in this country – not even the ones who think we should teach creationism in school and ban books in libraries – that deserves this comparison. Ok, lady? Sheesh.
As for the kids, you would think they are all having a blast. The weather has been uncommonly good, so I figure that if we lose our February and April breaks – which we surely will – at least we have off now when the sun is shining. But no, they are acting like a bunch of just-retired OCD businessmen, moping about the house, rudderless.
Partly, this is my fault. I’m sure there are parents out there doing fun crafts and special projects with their kids to fill the time. But personally, I am against doing arts and crafts at home with my kids. If I turn my back for a second, my son will drink the glue while the girls paint the table they are using, the chairs they are sitting on and any furniture unfortunate enough to be placed in the same room with them. I just can’t take it, and besides that’s what the membership to the darn childrens’ museum is for.
Instead, last week I taught my five year old how to ride a two wheeler. This was a good thing, but to my dismay, it required more stamina for running than I currently have. Nothing like sprinting back and forth as you bend over to grip the back of a little kid’s bicycle to make you feel old, winded and acutely aware of how utterly out of shape you are. Maybe I’ll set a goal that by the time my son is ready to learn, I’ll be able to teach him without feeling like I need to retch at the end of a session. Check back with me on that in three years, Ok, everyone?
Meanwhile the strike goes on, my five year old fears she will miss kindergarten completely and never learn how to read, and we wait.