Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Drug-sniffing dogs in middle schools ... ?

... and what on earth would that have to do with this picture? Everything.  A nation that has given up on its children has become suicidal, lost its way, and abandoned all hope for the future. Have we gone completely mad?

And why is so much of the available funding for youth services found in the budgets of law enforcement?  Would we be having better luck if (as before) those funds were again used to staff our recreation centers?  Everything shuts down in the early evening; except the kids! 

How did we get so far off track, anyway?  Is no one else disturbed by the sight of police cars parked at high schools, routinely; high schools in my city that have the outward appearance of prisons? Schools with their metal detectors that long ago -- for budgetary reasons -- gave up counselors and school nurses in favor of this?  Both positions provide prevention, intervention, and might go a long way toward eliminating the need for police on campus.  Resources for youth are often dependent upon their being defined as "at risk," and rarely as entitlements -- as it was when we were young.

The taxpayers of California, by refusing to allow the raising of taxes with which to fund much-needed services for children, have allowed education to be gutted of all those things that brings kids to school each day, and sustains their interest in remaining in the system.  Music, the Arts, electives of all kinds; school clubs, athletics.  The schools have lost their relevance to many young lives by the time they reach their teens, and by ninth grade 49% have dropped out (mostly Black and Brown youth), or been transferred into the prison system where the costs of upkeep are astronomically higher than it would have been to educate them in the first place!

This is not true in the suburbs where parents have formed support groups and foundations which financially support a full array of enriching programs like science fairs, music and fine arts, (yes, and counselors, and school nurses) that school districts in my part of the county simply cannot afford. 

School districts receive funds from the State based on ADA (Average Daily Attendance), so those dropouts determine what moneys come into the district, so where the dropout rate is high, resources continue to shrink and essentials (like textbooks) disappear into some bottomless chasm of need.

If we're not going to educate the electorate, then we'll have need to control it; hence drug-sniffing canines.

How sad that we've come to this.

I need to find the relevance in my work, and where it interfaces with the critical needs I see all around me.  So far today that relevance escapes me ... .

... I'm at home feeling depressed.  Not a usual state for me, yet there's something familiar about this mood, enough so that I think I might be reaching for justification to match the feelings.  Can't find anything in my immediate past, present, or future that warrants "the Blues," so I may be borrowing heavily from the news reports,  all devastatingly unreal.

Maybe I'm having leftover blahs from watching the State of the Union speech last night, and being aware of how much game-playing goes on at such a high level, and understanding just how much the lives of ordinary citizens (yes, and children and youth) depend upon what's happening in that Chamber.  That, combined with the unbelievable nonsense going on in the primary races where candidates whose constituencies appear to represent such a thin slice of the electorate ... it's surreal!

Oh well, maybe tomorrow... .

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Had one of those crazy flashbacks this morning -- of another Betty at another time ... .

It was while getting into my clothes for a day at home, and just as I was slipping a cotton turtleneck over my head (and the label caught in my hair for just a few seconds) the long-forgotten image rose in full color with all of the affect of the embarrassment I'd felt at the time.

I was attending a gathering at Mt. Diablo Unitarian-Universalist Church where I was an active (and usually smartly-dressed) member.  I was moving comfortably and confidently among friends when a smiling woman gently pressed my elbow with the words, "... Betty, that's such a pretty dress,  and I can only imagine how much more beautiful it would be with the label on the inside!"  Yes, you guessed it.  In my rush to get my children ready for Sunday school, I'd somehow turned it inside out, and hadn't noticed until it was brought to my attention.  That friend should have been rewarded for the gentlest most tactful handling of a delicate matter, but all she got was my awkward "Oops!" followed by red-faced giggling that echoes still as I think back to that morning so long ago.  A quick trip to the restroom took care of the problem, and after a few moments -- my dignity had been restored.

Were that to happen at this stage in life I'd have immediately made an appointment for a brain scan and lived for days in mortal fear that I was the one-in-eight living in the early stages of dementia (one-in-two after the age of ninety.)  In the past few days I've read reports of the projections as Alzheimers explodes in the aging population.  It seems to be only a matter of time ... .

Yet ... 

(Now where do you suppose I left my car keys?)

Photo:  Dorian at age eleven, and Mom about to leave  for church.