Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Best Laid Plans

I had every intention of bending your eyes today by writing about how you should lend your ears tonight about how the Jay Dempsey Band kicks off the Rock the Docks concert series starting at six, weather permitting, at Howard T. Brown Park.

Not to worry. The Wednesday concerts will continue and be enjoyed into August, whether I write about them today or not (I'm not a rooster who thinks because he crows the sun comes up), but a news item that first showed up last Friday while we were all distracted getting ready for the Fourth of July holiday has made me miserable and you know what they say about misery and company. That would be you.

I'm sure you, too, saw Ryan Blessing's story, "State to Norwich Children: No More Summer School" last Friday and probably did a better job in reading it than I did, at least the first time around. I skimmed it and had moved on when my brain sort of asked my eyes, 'what did you read?' and went back to take a longer look, perhaps, I guess (in my defense) because the prospect of the Norwich Public Schools not having the money for The Summer Learning Academy just seemed so absurd. Except I've been mulling it over, and quite frankly stewing about it and now it's Wednesday, and it's not just absurd anymore, it's just asinine.   

We just marked the signing of the Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson's words about "...certain unalienable Rights... Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (and) That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted." I tend to agree we form governments, regardless of the manner of actual governance, to do for us collectively what we lack the ability to do for ourselves as individuals.

And maybe I'm missing something, or maybe we all are when we elect/select those who represent us and our interests at all levels of government but the education of our children seems to me to be one of those basic services for which we created government. Except, again, in these parts. Instead, we seem to have created government that most closely resembles a self-licking ice cream that requires increased infusions of tax money to explain why less is accomplished. Let's stop this now.

Our two children are grown and gone, so my experience's 'best used by date' might be a problem for you, but the point won't be. Their first language was other than English when they started school here. They succeeded in both school and in life because of their own talents and efforts (not to mention an incredible genetic inheritance that includes a double-dollop of modesty) and in no small part from a remarkable public school system of programs and teachers who created an ecosystem that allowed them to grow into who they are today.

But in the decades since our children attended, programs have withered, been eliminated, improved out of existence (pick one) and funding is often more of a rumor, until last Friday when for The Summer Learning Academy it disappeared.

And rather than look at the causes of the financial instability and insolvency that forces decisions like this, and be inspired and incited to demand long term solutions which create real systemic change and reform, we idly and angrily wonder 'gee, what happens to our tax dollars' and continue doing what we've always done, growing angry when the result never varies or improves.

What is permitted is what will continue. If you want a better wherever it is you live, you need to make it yourself and join together with the rest of us right now.
-bill kenny

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