I've read and watched the press about the Independence Extreme School Makeover Effort this weekend, and I was impressed. Had I not been scheduled to work, I would have gone to help out. I'm pretty handy with a paintbrush. I don't have kids, but I do support education.
Some people would like you to think that anyone who showed up to help, who didn't even have kids in the district, did so with an underlying sinister political agenda. If that's the case, who cares? At the end of the day, shit got done and maybe for the first time, some of those students who attend those schools will have hope when they enter the building. Sure, it's just paint and shrubs...but it shows that people care.
Without looking at the who's and why's of this, look past all of it to the fundamental cause: if KCMSD had maintained the schools in the first place, the whole "Extreme Makeover" event wouldn't have had to happen.
To understand the psychology of people is to know that they generally like to pitch in and help out when they see that the others that need the help are also trying to help themselves. Who feels good about helping someone who consistently bitches about how crappy things are, just expecting someone to just come in and fix everything, while they just sit on their asses, converting oxygen into carbon dioxide.
If KCMSD comes out of this looking like assholes, it's because they earned it. Yeah, you can ask where were these concerned citizens before the Indy district took over the schools, but you also need to ask why would a school district allow their buildings to fall in such a state in the first place? Had I been a student there, paint peeling off the walls, things broken, it would be depressing. Why should kids care about their education when no one else does? I'm going to guess that the money that bought those expensive African drums would have also bought a lot of paint.
I'm sure there are lots of parents with kids in the KCMSD who do volunteer their time in an effort to try to make the schools their children attend a better place, and I applaud them for it. You can always spot these kids because they are the few success stories. They come from parents who actually gave a shit as to whether they could read past a "See Spot Run" level. These are the parents who give a damn, and the parents I wish all parents could be.
However, if the KCMSD fails to support the parents and the students they serve (instead worrying about lining their pockets with money and their own job security), anything that these parents do is the equivalent of spraying perfume on a dog turd. It may smell nice on the outside, but it's still shit.
Maybe the KCMSD would be best served if they looked past their own greed, to the events that just occurred this weekend (which were nothing short of a miracle), and take stock of just what they are doing wrong, and how they could correct the problem. Their schools are falling apart, the people they serve are drowning in an apathy that they have created. The few kids who do manage to graduate, can't read past a 6th grade level. I know, I went to community college with many of them.
During nursing school, I was part of a volunteer effort that went to elementary schools and did free screenings for the kids: medical, dental, vision. Inside the bleakness of the decrepit buildings, I saw poverty reflected everywhere. I saw hope in the eyes of the children before the hard reality of life is realized. I saw teachers that did the best they could, but the quiet resignation that a lot of times what they did was in vain. And I saw a school district that has turned it's back on all of them. These are our children. They deserve better.
Time to wake up, Kansas City Missouri School District. It's time to stop being the problem, and be the solution.
Our future depends on it.