21 February 2016

If you build it, they will come

Settle in. This is sure to be a lengthy piece. It's been so long since I've written here that I forgot how to log on. Excuse the absence. Life has been wrought with a lot of, well with a lot. I'll leave it at that. Add to it, one of son's friends found my little writing spot and unearthed his anonymity and you have the making of a blog lock down, or take down might be more like it. 

But here I am. I am back. Hopefully, to write more consistently. The opinions here are expressly mine. And I will take full responsibility for my inconsistencies, hypocrisies and otherwise lack of professionalism. But hear this. I am writing from a place of nothing but love in hopes of bringing about better stewardship. Today's topic: EDUCATION. 

What's more divisive than politics and religion? You gots it. The big "E".  So without further adieu...

{Let me preface this letter with an introduction. I am Tracy Utley, a long time lover of education, a once upon a time teacher, a homeschool mom who straddles between homeschooling our youngest child and sending middle and high schoolers to public schools. In the words of Bono, this is not a rebel song. It's meant to encourage us to do what we do best as parents, be builders. It's meant to maybe begin a dialogue which I hope can be productive and illuminating. And more than anything, encourage community, peace and love. As Abraham Lincoln once reminded, "A house divided cannot stand." I see this as true in my neighborhood. A neighborhood divided cannot stand. Unanimous agreement is incongruent with being human. But one thing I hope we can all agree on as families is this, seeing the role in education as primarily the parent's mandate. And for that reason we understand that if we don't build something, it might not come.}


Dear Education Dissonance, 

You are the elephant in the room right now, actually not in the room, but in our neighborhood. We all talk about you in sketchy, unclear terms, but it's hard to grapple with the spirit of something so let me be clear. This is about choosing to dig in and dig deep into keeping our neighborhood schools thriving rather than letting something else move us to send our kids someplace else for school. 

My mother always told me if you are not part of the solution, you are part of problem. The way I see this situation playing out is either you leave our community, or we are going to be forced to take you down one choosing parent at a time. Dissonance, you have no place here. 

We see you sweep in and scare and weaken the stalwart. That is not cool, Dissonance. You leave your mark in social circles that are peppered with gossip and buttressed with secrecy. Instead of bringing unity, instead of reminding us that we are all for the same thing, a strengthening economy of academic excellence, you make us feel that we are only out for number one, ourselves, our kid. But we know better because fear is a liar.

You see fear not only lies, but it fractures relationships and breaks the harmony that is the cornerstone to building community. And when these quaking and intimidated families bail on their neighborhood schools, they take with them the monies that won't make their way into their neighborhood schools, the land where kids can play with their school classmates. Dissonance, you call that "yesteryear", a passing fancy that no longer is attainable. And it becomes a vicious cycle because once the money leaves the building (neighborhood school), the long sought for classes and teachers and extracurriculars are taken. And this keeps parents from choosing the neighborhood school. See how manipulative you are?

Dissonance, you make mountains out of mole hills and mole hills into mountains. You create obstacles where there should be none. You remove sincere families who are the builders and turn them into consumers. You needle into the fiber of family involvement by insisting that the grass is greener on the other side of town where the other schools are. And just when we are to the very brink of personal and familial exhaustion, you give one final blow. You show us that the school that we ran from, the one that is in our neighborhood, the one where our kids could have gone and flourished if we had shown up ready to build, was really the better choice. 

Damn you, Dissonance. 


Do you understand the letter? How can we be the change we want to see? 

I do not have the answers. I am only and I mean only a parent who really, really wants the kids on my street and up the street and those who have parents who don't have the time to invest, to have a place to call school and for that school to be in their neighborhood. Mine included. 
Bonus: Having your kid run by your house en route to his cross country meet.