Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Election Day Rant!

To my regular readers - sorry! I'm getting political, and I'm going local. I promise I'll post less neighborhood-oriented stuff soon!

When I went to vote today, I saw several people with 'Vote No on Issue 6 signs'. For those that don't know, we have a renewal levy on our ballot for our schools. It is critical as our schools are in bad shape physically and financially. Add to that the fact that our current superintendent inherited a mess from the previous administration and we have the perfect storm for our school – and children – to suffer. If the levy doesn't pass, all extracurriculars will need to be cut, all AP classes will be cut, band and music and art will be cut. This is partly a result of mismanagement on the part of the prior administration, failure to pass a levy on the last ballot,  and partly the result of the recent economic downturn (Increased foreclosure in the communities means less tax money). To help with this, the teachers union has graciously forgone raises in their last contract negotiations. We NEED this levy to pass. However, we have the 'Vote No' group to contend with. We didn't pass a levy last election cycle because of their negative campaign and the wealth of misinformation they spread. I normally try to refrain from politics… but seeing these people this morning angered me.

The stated goal of this group is to call for 'accountability' of the board and the superintendent. They say the community can't afford more taxes (never mind that this is a renewal and will most decidedly NOT raise taxes). They say that the board is not spending the money correctly. They want to ask the hard questions and think of the tax-payers. Forgive me while I step well past calm and non-judgemental and tread squarely into the vulgar. They are full of shit.

Here's the simple truth: The group against the levy are rabble-rousers and are selfish douche nozzles. They are emblematic of the conservative, Tea-Bag obstructionists who so recently shamed all of us at a national level by holding the government hostage with a shutdown. They – Ted Cruz and his slavering minions, as well as the 'No on Issue 6' group - think they are being patriotic and somehow noble by 'standing up to the way things are done', pillaging the village, and salting the earth on the way out . There is nothing noble in this path. It is selfishness wrapped in the tattered rags of pointless jingoism. In their imagined and perfect world, nobody has to pay taxes and everyone is self-sufficient and life is wondrous and bright. Here's some news – taxes are a part of life. That's how it works. Taxes are an unavoidable side effect of a civilized, effective civilization. Everybody pays their tithe to the government and the government provides for the betterment of that same society.

A good school system is the bedrock of a good community. The value of your home, and the worth of your citizenry can be judged by how well you treat your children. When you are looking to buy a house somewhere new, the first question you ask is "What are the schools like". If the Anti-6 crowd had it their way, the answer would be, "Not good." This has a ripple effect on the community. Bad schools lower your property value, which means you lose money when you try to sell it, if you can at all. And, I don't want to hear the tired excuse of 'Well, my kids are grown" or "I don't have kids in the school district, why should I pay for it". Because that's what responsible members of a community do, you selfish dick. If you're retired, think of your poor kids who may have to sell your crappy house after you die to pay off your funeral and debts. Oh wait! They can't because nobody wants to buy a house that smells of old crotchety people in a city where they have shitty schools. I'd also like to note that some of the people involved in the Anti-6 group are in fact avowed home-schoolers. Now, don't get me wrong, home-schooling is a viable educational alternative. To each their own.But, because you think you can do a better job teaching your kid than professionals, don't penalize every other child in the district because you don't want to pay for something you're not using. It doesn't work like that.

 (EDIT TO ADD: This is not an indictment of home schooling in general. This is directed to a specific group of homeschool parents I know through activities with my kids here in Willoughby. In fact, I know of several exceptional home-schoolers, one of which I went to high school with. She is phenomenal and - despite the fact that her kids are home-schooled - she still understands the big picture of the impact any detriment to our school system is. Home schoolers may not have kids in the schools, but they have a stake as they pay taxes on it. I wanted to clarify that.)

And there's the important point, I think. The fact of the matter is that the Anti-6 crowd is in it to hurt our children. They have even moved beyond the 'Vote No on ALL THE LEVIES' schtick to trying to get several of their members on the school board. They want to expand their obstructionism to tying up the board who is tasked with balancing the needs of the community with the delicate tightrope – and thankless task - of funding the schools and ensuring that our kids receive the best advantages and education they possible can in an ever changing world. The insane Tea Party mantra of 'Burn it all down!" is being directed at our children and our schools.

And I cannot abide that.

Here's how it works: If you are on the school board, your first priority should be the children. You should be an advocate for the schools and for the kids who are attending. I'm not saying there should be no oversight or someone asking if we're doing everything we should, but I am saying that everything you do should be predicated on its benefit or impact on the children of the Willoughby-Eastlake School District. You are not there to  obstruct, to challenge everything the Superintendent is doing, and you are most certainly not there to uphold the agenda of a political group who's purposes are at odds with the betterment of our kid's education.

Please go and vote if you haven't done so yet. Please think of the kids. Don't listen to the bullshit from a small, but vocal group of assholes who are trying to hurt our kids.