Friday, January 14, 2011

This city freakin cracks me up...

OK, so 2 things have happened in the last 24 hours that have cracked me up.  1 in I guess a good way, the other in maybe not such a great way.

OK, first.  So when I was little, my mom dispensed safety advice.  You know, the usual "Look both ways before crossing the street!"  and "Wash your hands!" and "Don't swallow your gum!".  Last night I was waiting for the train to go home after the gym, and a woman and her son who was maybe 5 or 6 are waiting next to me.  Her son points to the "very official" looking paper sign that the MTA has posted, stating a service change with the trains.  He says "mom, the train isn't coming to this station!" to which the mother replies "You have to read the whole sign. If you don't, you won't be totally informed.  WHEN is the train not coming to this station?"  "ooooh" he says.  "Only Tuesday."  "What time on Tuesday?" she asks.  "12am until 5am."  "Right" she says.  Then her son gets closer to the pole that the sign is posted to so that he can get a closer look.  Obviously, this mom is a good mom.  She corrects, but in a supportive way.  She guides, but doesn't diminish the kid's self esteem.  Good mom.  As her son gets closer to the pole, she yells " DON'T TOUCH THAT POLE!  PEOPLE PEE ON THERE!"  Her son just looks at her totally disgusted.  That is definitely a piece of safety advice my mother never dispensed to me... although it's a good one!

The other thing that happened that cracks me up/ drives me crazy is:

Today on the news they were reporting that a local preacher is fighting to keep a school in the Bronx from being closed.  Apparently the students in this school are not performing satisfactorily, and thus the city has decided to discontinue funding the school.  These kids will have to go to another school where their parents may be forced to pay for their education, as they are so far behind.

Before starting at my super fabulous job, I worked part time for the Board of Education in their Impartial Hearings office.  Believe me, I've heard everything.  From parents coming into the hearings with Fendi sunglasses and Prada bags, asking that the state of New York pay $80,000 a year to send their child to boarding school because they can't possibly afford it, to the 19 year old kid that had been passed from grade to grade, but is unable to graduate now because at 19, he can barely read on a 1st grade reading level.  This city's school system is WHACK!  And just recently, the ever insightful Mayor Bloomberg decided to place a new Chancellor in office.  This Chancellor has ZERO education experience.  Literally.  She has never been a teacher, school administrator or superintendent.  And now, she's running the whole show!  The whole shebang!  And has no freaking clue what she's doing.

Education really is the most important thing.  Especially grade school.  I can see getting through life without a college degree.  Do enough internships, or start at the bottom of a company and work your way up, educating yourself the whole way.  Or going to a trade school.  But really, grade school is just invaluable in kids' lives.  The fact that the kids aren't performing as a whole school is clearly not their fault.  There is a problem with the system.  I get why more money goes to the more affluent neighborhoods.  People want to live there because of the good schools and are willing to put more money into the community to keep those schools at the high end of the scale.  I'm not saying that's wrong.  That's life!  If you're willing to put more money into the system, and you have the means to do so, you should reap the benefits.  I get it, and live by that way of thinking.  And I understand the class system.  I really do.

But I just can't help feeling like we owe ALL kids more than that.  That for just a small amount of time, we should shelter their innocence from that knowledge that, in societies' eyes, you aren't worth as much as the affluent kids because your parents don't make as much money.  I'm not saying make all schools equal across the board.  But maybe, just allocate funds so that there are enough books for every school in the city.  Make sure that there is a library with at least 10 computers with Internet access available in all schools.  At least give the impression that the kids in the Bronx school have a fighting chance.  And take it from me, a kid that went to one of those affluent schools.  The sky-lit, glass paned reading nook in the library is really unnecessary, and mostly we just use it to sit and socialize during study hall, rather than studying.  And the courtyard with the pretty landscaping?  Yeah... we didn't notice that until you told us to report there for senior pictures.  Try giving some of that money to the kids in the neighboring city that had to share 1 ratty outdated text book between 3 kids.  Really, we don't mind.  And our education isn't in any way effected. (Effected?  Affected?  I'm really bad at that... I should improve that while I write this blog. <-- Ha ha, there's my affluent education for ya!)

When I was talking to the DJ about this this morning, I said that they needed to change out the teachers, because THEY were unable to do their jobs.  His response was, "It's in the hood, no teachers want to go there.  That's why the crappy ones are there and are unable to teach the kids."  I know this has been proposed before, and probably hasn't worked.  But inner city teachers need to be paid MORE!  Not just in general more, because all teachers really deserve more.  I mean, a LOT more for the more "dangerous" locations.  Why are teachers in suburban schools getting paid so much more than inner city teachers?  Do they deal with metal detectors?  Conflicting gangs with roots running generations long?  Rampant teen pregnancy?  Mostly uninvolved parents (either by choice or otherwise)?  Buildings and equipment that are falling apart?  Lack of resources?  These teachers have a lot more to think about than lesson plans and grading.  Just getting themselves and the kids to school on a regular basis is a feat.  They deserve more, so that actually working in these schools is more worth their while.  They need motivation to make a difference, too.

I don't know.  Obviously this is a debate that has been going on for years, and I'm clearly not going to change any minds.  It just makes me sad that yet again, these kids will have something come crashing down around them and be in a state of unsettled panic if this school closes.

Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing anyone's takes on this. Either the pee pole or the school situation :)

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