Do we really want our kids and school staff to be safe? Of course; we all do. But are we prepared to we make the necessary and most effective efforts…or will we simply throw lots of money at the problem and hope that it works? Regardless of how you vote on the school district’s newest request for the $25 million tax increase set forth in their referendum question (entitled “Securing Our Schools Act”), there are other more basic (maybe even more important) things we could do to improve safety and the quality of our children’s lives…things we should be doing anyway,
…things that may be much more effective and that don’t cost $25 million:
Things such as taking an actual interest in our children’s lives, including their school life. Parents, ask yourself if you are as involved in your children’s lives as you could be or should be. Not just seeing them off in the morning or making sure they arrive home on time. Not just making sure homework is completed or knowing when their tests are coming up. We need to be aware of their whole routine, and to be involved…or at least available. Spend a few minutes over breakfast talking about their upcoming day. What are their moods? Are they participating in extracurricular activities? Are they relatively glad to leave for school or do they dread it? Do they have friends there? Do these friends seem like good influences? Remember, school is not just a taxpayer-funded babysitting operation for working parents — it’s where our children spend most of their time away from the house and where they develop much of their personalities and emotional outlook.
Where do our kids go after school, and where do they hang out at night? Are they engaged in healthy or productive activities when they’re out and about? For a host of reasons (abuse, neglect, isolation, drugs, or just plain boredom) it is too easy for kids to slide into self-destructive behavior and too many opportunities for them to do so. Do we take the time for family activities such as road trips, camping or boating, attending ball games, or even just movies or board games at home (maybe after a trip to Polly’s Freeze)? Such involvement in our kids’ lives is inexpensive, entertaining, and rewarding in ways everyone can understand and appreciate. What better way to strengthen family bonds and improve the mental and emotional well-being of our children, as well as ourselves?
When you learned of this referendum, did you stop for even one second to consider if it’s the best approach…or did you automatically think, “Heck yeah, I’m all in!”? Did you take any time whatsoever to learn the details of the administration’s proposal before making your decision? Do you even know those details now…or have you decided that they’re not important because it’s good enough for you that they’re all marketed under the heading of school safety?
Since school safety is very important, isn’t it important enough to get it right? Were any of us involved in the administration’s shaping of their approach? Were you offered the chance to provide input? Were you even aware of their consideration of this issue prior to their putting it on the ballot? How does their focus on mental health over facility security deal with kids who inevitably fall through the cracks, and how does it protect our schools from external threats such as disgruntled former students, crazed adults, or random acts of violence? Was the administration’s rush to seek another major tax hike (2nd in line to apply after the law was amended) the most reasoned and effective approach, or will this later be viewed as a misdirection of valuable resources and further erode public trust in the administration, the school board, and maybe the school financing system as a whole? Regardless of whether you believe in these socialized medicine programs and regardless of the referendum’s outcome, primary responsibility for our kids’ mental and emotional well-being lies with us, the parents, and we must not rely solely upon others to take care of it. Let’s never forget that.
Joseph Moore, Georgetown Township