This is a rant. It is not going to be politically correct. It might even offend a few of you, so don't say I didn't warn you. (grin)
This is not really about politics, although it has become political, like so many other things. This is about stupidity. This is about the sad, litigious state of our nation. And I'm pretty tired of it.
This latest one carries some good and some bad, as you will see.
Today was Lily's first day of school. A few months ago, the school had posted teacher's "wish lists" for supplies that parents could purchase if they felt inclined or not. It was a wish list, not a "you must buy this" list. None of the teachers have ever made any parent feel like they were awful if they couldn't provide anything. It's understood, at least in our community, that some will be able to do it, and others won't. And I think all of us agree that the teachers shouldn't have to buy school supplies. (Where do our tax dollars go anyway? And that's another rant.)
Now, I do agree that it is wrong to require parents to pay for public education, to require parents to raise money for sports, music, the arts, etc, or the kids are penalized or threatened when the family just can't afford it. I also don't think we should have to buy school supplies like this, but I will shell out that $10-20 for them. (And, really, we pay taxes, so why are we being asked again? Where the hell did the money we paid in taxes go?) There is no question it is wrong, but going the other way is just as bad.
The other way? What other way? Well, because of a lawsuit, schools can't even tell the parents what they need and let the parents decide whether to raise the money, donate, or not. I'm not talking about for sports either. This is for anything.
That's right. Those wish lists (not a "required list") with things like erasers, Kleenex, pencils, crayons, and so on, had to be removed because it violated a court ruling. A teacher, or school, can't ask for volunteers because it violates this ruling. My father-in-law, a track coach, can't hand out the uniforms unless they are paid for by the student/student's family, but he can't tell the student or their family this. Now, if the parent asks to who to make the check out, he can tell them that. Nothing else.
So, um, so, um... WTF?
When I was in high school, pre-budgets woes--well, not really, there have ever been budget woes in CA schools as far as I can remember--if we wanted to wear the team swim suit, we had to buy it. It wasn't cheap either (usually about $60 for the girls and $15 for the boys. Oh, the inequity!). I don't think everyone wore one, but I honestly don't remember. Our parents weren't asked for school supplies; our schools were better; we had more kids per classroom; we had ESL students, but not separate classrooms or curriculum for them; there was no such thing as a teacher's aide; our teachers did music in the classroom as well as art; the kids were better behaved.
What the hell happened?
And I have digressed. This isn't about the state of the schools. This is about the inability to communicate. Last year, I remember Lily's school sending home this letter talking about how the school relies on every family to give the school $250/child attending that school to help it continue to do what it does. It didn't require it, but it did lay the guilt trip on pretty heavy.
It succeeded in pissing me off. (Guilt trips don't work well with me.) I donated what I could when I felt I could, and if I thought the program was worth donating too. Some programs I didn't agree with, so I didn't donate. And I didn't donate $250. We pay enough in property taxes as it is. It should be enough to cover the school. They'd also passed a tax that increased our property taxes to pay for the music and arts programs in our school. I voted against it. I would have supported it, but the measure did not protect the monies already slated toward these programs. Instead, we were just taxed more. You know what will happen to the monies that were originally set aside for these programs?
What do you think happened to those funds? No one's telling, but I can guess.
Again, I digress.
It reminds me of the one time I took the witness stand. I was one of the few bystanders, possibly the only one, who was willing to testify against a pilot who buzzed the Santa Monica Pier. After spending hours waiting to do nothing, I understand, but as a citizen, it was my duty to do so. So, wasted time or not, it was worth it. The pilot was convicted, as he should have been.
Anyway, back to topic, the defense lawyer got the judge to agree that the witnesses called to the stand could not say anything that would indicate we thought we under a terrorist attack, compare it to 9/11, and so on. This might sway the jurors and unduly play on their sympathies.
Um, I can honestly say that when I stood on that beach and watched the jet's wings miss the tops of the lamps by less than 10 feet, miss the Ferris wheel by less than 20 feet, and come up over the end of the pier with maybe 6 feet to spare when it pulled up, I did wonder if we were being attacked.
Top it off with the fact that the plane had no markings on it, but there was no question it was a fighter jet, of course I wondered if this was a terrorist attack. I'm sure all of the screaming people that scattered on the pier thought so too. Yet the judge agreed with the defense lawyer. When I testified, I couldn't use any "inflammatory language" to "sway the jurors."
In short, I couldn't tell them what I was really thinking at the time. How is that justice? Not that I wasn't able to get around this. I alluded to 9/11 without actually saying it, but still? I had to do that to get my point across?
For me, this is similar. Require it? No. Allow the schools to put it out there and leave it up to the community to decide? Yes. Penalize those who can't? No. Reward those who do? No.
But when, and where, does this madness stop? There are so many limits to what we can say and do anymore you have to wonder how free we are.