Duval County students have no allies in the political system.
One thing the whole world has learned about Florida in recent years is that you can pretty much do anything you want to children and get away with it. Now, I’m not just talking about our pathological coddling of social predators, but a political structure that makes our young people easy subjects for negative influences and anti-social behavior. At its root is the state’s criminally negligent approach to public education.
The latest round of budget cuts include approximately 256 positions across the county, cuts not limited just to teachers. Student-athletes, whose precious summertime should have been spent in study, at practice or just hanging out with their friends, have been reduced to begging on the streets for money that the private sector should have ponied up instantly. The fact that they haven’t speaks to the genuine contempt adults have for the children of this community.
We have underfunded education for longer than many readers have been alive. We have stuck them with a worthless curriculum and rearranged teaching practices to prepare them for standardized testing that is not only inapplicable to the real world, but whose very existence is mostly the result of blatant political corruption on local, state and national levels. We’ve cut arts, music and sports, which are essential to the shaping of young minds and the building of interpersonal bonds that last a lifetime, while also deemphasizing trade and technical education at a time when America’s physical economy is dissipating faster than blunt smoke in a wind tunnel.
We’ve done all these things, knowing full well what the result would be, because we were warned, exhaustively, at every step along the way. For years, children who saw the raw deal they had been given, and reacted appropriately, were labeled as “disruptive” or tagged with the various fake DSM-IV disorders—ADD, ADHD, OCD, etc.—dictated by Big Pharma, and then what? They were drugged, in the millions, creating an entire generation of addicts, prostitutes and potential mass-murderers. The kids were pilled-up to conceal the comprehensive failure of their parents, their teachers and their political leaders. And now that it’s too big to conceal anymore, the decision has been made to just eliminate them altogether, by torpedoing the public school system.
Obviously, much of the blame goes to Tallahassee and our pathetic joke of a Governor, but this was happening for years, long before anyone had heard of Rick Scott. For me, this goes on everyone: teachers’ unions, PTAs and the private sector, the school board and administrators, all elected officials including this governor and his predecessor. We also fault a Democratic Party that laid down for Scott, offering no resistance while he blatantly bought the governorship. He makes a convenient scapegoat, and rightfully so, but it’s not like anyone, anywhere, has an alternate vision. He was elected by a majority of voters who all knew exactly what he stood for. Now the children get to see what their parents are really good for—specifically, nothing. That is a form of education.
The entire Board should resign, and maybe the Superintendant, too. I’m not talking about the rank-and-file DCPS employees, who are already suffering and will suffer even more in the future. The seven elected School Board members are all nice folks, but they all violated their oaths and their campaign promises to help improve education. Even though funding was cut, their allocation of funds was terrible, wasteful and contributed to the political environment that allowed such cuts to be forced onto an unwilling citizenry.
Hell, if they’d resigned sooner, it might have been possible to offset the budget cuts for a few more months. But instead, they sat back on their taxpayer-padded asses and pled powerlessness, as they voted to deliberately induce hard times on parents, teachers and students countywide. Not one even had the decency to resign in either protest or shame, because nobody has any shame in Florida.
Whether they like it or not, they are now part of the problem. And now, having forfeited all credibility, they can never be part of the solution, because Tallahassee knows they’ll lay down on-command; their ability to legislate effectively has been broken. The good news is that four of the seven seats are up for grabs in 2012, right after they sign off on the next wave of budget cuts. Districts 1 (Martha Barrett), 3 (WC Gentry), 5 (Betty Burney), and 7 (Tommy Hazouri) constitute a majority stake; Burney and Hazouri are term-limited, so their seats are open.
Students should also consider the idea of organizing and starting the new school year with a mass walk-out in the first week. When the adults prove incapable of protecting their children’s interests, then the kids need to go into business for themselves. That is the Free Market at work!
firstname.lastname@example.org; July 25, 2011