Voices From Street Corners 2012 (Vol II): Odds & Ends on Education

It is a beautiful day in Laguna Niguel. Spring is in the air as I see the flowers bloom and as I am right now listening to the President is holding a news conference as people  are voting in primaries on Super Tuesday. What is clear is that life on main street goes on as  I had the privilege to attend a concert at Aliso Niguel high School that featured elementary middle and high school kids. It was one of the most wondrous experiences I have had in a long time.

As I saw those kids showcasing their wonderful talents my mind drifted away to the first day that I accompanied my Son to Moulton for him to start his preschool. I remembered all his friends that I knew since preschool and how they had grown. I remembered how they grew into the confident young men they had become. As I enjoyed the wonderful performance, I panicked because I realized the expected budget deficit that the Capistrano Unified District has to contend with as it begins deliberations for the new school year. According to a recent edition of CAPO Talk, the expected range is around 30-50 million dollars.

I marvel at how Capo Schools work. I have the privilege to periodically serve as a volunteer at Moulton. I continue to be amazed at how the wonderful teachers at Moulton deal with the kids and how we are so blessed  to have a supportive parent community. Every day I am on campus, I see a parent dashing to get copies and helping with whatever else that they can. I have seen a PTA program that has helped to underwrite arts programs, music programs, technology programs and countless others that have enhanced the lives of children. I have also seen continued parent involvement when they had the vision to create another vehicle to further enhance support for the school from RMIQ.  That has helped to bring additional resources for the school.

Although I consider us lucky,  many around our State are not so lucky. The systematic dismantling of public schools in California is a fact. As someone who is a product of the California public school system, I am extremely worried.  Rose Aguilar’s recent column in Al Jazeera noted that California seems to not have its’ priorities in order. She noted that California spends $ 50,000 per prisoner; yet only spends $ 8667 per pupil. We rank 47th in per pupil spending in the Country. What came home to me was what everyone is currently telling us:  We’re broke. We’re not too broke to build more prisons, spend more money on the military, draw repeated redlines to try and get into another war. Yet, we cannot invest money in our children. The national movement to somehow “re-engineer” schools is also another very worrisome development as exemplified in what Rahm Emanuel and Mike Bloomberg have been trying to do: Occupy Education: Teachers, Students Resist School Closings, Privatizations, Layoffs and Rankings.

Kids are still attending classes in facilities that were supposed to be temporary.

As I thought about this, I remembered about the story of one of the brother of one of my former Cub Scouts. I had a chance to meet this young man during an outing we had with our pack to Miramar. He was a very smart, articulate, focused young man who had plans to study forestry and had begun Saddleback College. I was amazed by his upbeat, optimistic view on the future. When I asked him about how his brother was doing, he told me that he had gotten a job and had to stop going to College because he could not afford it. His family was not in a position to help him. Such is the future of our society. In the midst of all the debate about war, such souls seem to be truly lost in the shuffle.

I could not help but be ever more proud of all the young who stood up during the “Occupy Capitol” Day yesterday. Will the political leaders understand it and work to truly have a commitment to transform education or will they just muddle through?