At a recent town meeting, as I watched the reactions of my self and others, and the few days that have passed since this time, I want to relate everything back to this microcosmic event, even to the point of my own reactions, my inner reactions to the event. I suppose I have been relating the stances of others, in wanting to direct where the money goes in relation to things i have read in the news.
Some people at the meeting wanted to question the schools asking for more money, after they had received their annual 4% increase because retired people had not received the same increases. The state using some formula that justified no need for cost of living increases because a core rating system does not include gas and food cost increase. And yet, the rising cost of gas increases transportation costs, which increases material costs, which is eventually filtered down to the individual’s living costs. The person speaking up about this caused quite some reactions among the members of the school board. The reactions were justifications, as though what was being said was not considered, merely seen as an obstacle to what was wanted by the school board members present. It became a war and not an act of sharing considerations, which is what an open “democratic” meeting poses as.
The principle of the school, when asked to consider, basically ended up not denying the problems, after she had her salary cost of living increase, by saying her responsibility was to the school, this was where she stood. And she was not happy about this, her voice went up, her “ire” expressed, as though it should be self evident that she is not responsible in her role to consider the effects of the economy on the community in her decision making.
Another mother spoke up, when this discussion came up, where the school board was asked to look at the fact that they were asking for more money, and had presented a piece of paper that suggested budget loss each year and yet did not reveal that every year they had received a 4% increase in their budget, equalling 600,000$ increase for this year alone. That they were presenting a loss, when they had a higher percentage of cost increase allowance than the people of the community. Salaries first school needs second. In this conversation, this mother I spoke of earlier said, “ But our teachers are doing a wonderful job”. An emotional trigger of guilt. The whole conversation changed, and the one board member ran with this and took the floor, speaking about how wonderful the school were, how the state test scores where some of the highest in the state. I could see the superintendent relaxing, his guards had changed the direction of the conversation and moved to a point of suggesting that criticism of the committees choices suggested bad teaching practices. And the audience stopped, even added support along these lines.
This is where my ire came in. I was furious. Can’t stand emotional drama inserted into a practical conversation of what is revealing of the flow of money- in this instance, where what is being looked at is tax payer dollar distribution within the town. This emotional support chorus, stopping a close look at practice and presentation, not wanting more than one angle to be realized.
I get this from my father. He would become so angry when emotion was inserted into a conversation. And yet, at times he needed the response of emotion. I am the same, I sometimes want emotional response, and get really pissed off with the “goo” of emotion. Actually, come to think of it, I have probably used the same device.
Our schools are actually not doing as well as the “relative to other American schools” data suggests. Our children are not as educated as children from other countries. Even in Europe, people can speak multiple languages, where the average American cannot. Even, my European husband, appeared to know more about ancient history than I did, and I took history classes in college-at a major university. So, on another front, this discussion about how wonderful our schools and teachers are doing is an illusion ( and to appease those who believe I am criticizing teachers I guess I am! – I am speaking about what we allow ourselves to believe coupled with an unwillingness to aggressively seek solutions)
A involved committee member of schools in Maine eventually went to work in Washington for the Education Department, where she realized that many teachers never have the time to develop their own methods because every five years they are given a new “and better” program to teach the children. They then must spend many “teacher development hours” learning the new program. So much time is spent learning new programs and implementing them that there is no room for self discovery. We are robots, our teachers are robots, being reprogramed every five years, and fed with data that suggest growth, but should this data be put into a larger context, the robot would lose “feelings” of doing good, and ask a question that the system does not want asked. Emotion being used to drug and stop-once again.
I won’t even go into the profit made selling these “new and wonderful” programs to schools at taxpayer expense.
Emotion is used to continue the presentation of the system, and not what is actually here, not how the money is actually being spent.
Within my self I must stop the anger for this kind of movement. No matter what is thrown at me. Asking the questions that are not wanted must continue, reacting with emotion cannot. Even when the question triggers emotion in another. Even when, the question cannot be seen in the moment, and all I get is emotion, the fear of losing something because of the implications of the question. The emotional reaction is a sign of something, the reaction an acknowledgement that there is something not included, that should be included, that is the point of considering what is best for all. I must become a walking mantra of what is best for all. Which is what I do within my self when I must walk through a fear or find a way that I know must be there but can’t see because I am too confined by my fear – my habitual limitations.
This “storm” of emotion, of energy motion everywhere. Inside and outside. I want to laugh all the time now. And perhaps, laughing is the energetic polar opposite of crying.
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