This notion of “having to pick sides” left me thinking about education, about the challenges facing our local district and schools that systematically rush us to judgement, forcing us to “pick a side.” Is it possible that maybe, just maybe, the issues of this past week can serve to remind us that challenges don’t have to be mutually exclusive?
Let’s take the issue of inter-district transfer students as an example. I hear arguments on both sides of this issue. Arguments suggesting we need to eliminate them. Arguments suggesting we need to keep them. Isn’t it just possible we currently have too many, but still need a small number of these kids throughout all our schools? Too few may result in unintended consequences, and too many has resulted in the challenges we face today. The support from both sides is compelling; however, what if the answer lies somewhere in between?
Let’s take the issue of traffic. We can’t eliminate it all. Our communities’ residents drive. They drive to work. They drive their kids to school. The drive to the grocery store. They own multiple cars and their kids drive, too. And much of our driving time happens when schools are beginning and ending. This causes traffic nightmares. Unfortunately, we are a busy lot with people to see and things to do, so eliminating traffic completely isn’t realistically possible. But do we have to endure a traffic situation that perpetually gets worse year-over-year? Again, I’m suggesting the answer lies somewhere in between “like it was in the 1960’s” and “I’m forced to leave my home an additional thirty minutes earlier in order to get to work on time.”
Let’s look at one more issue -- fundraising. We live in the Los Alamitos Unified School District, a public school system the last time I checked, but time-and-time again we are caught up in the belief that in order for our schools to run and our kids to participate in sports, we need to shell out thousands of dollars. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the fact the we send them to a public school, in-and-of-itself, mean that the education our kids receive is “publically” funded -- in another word, free? That our kids can’t be held from an activity or program because of either an inability or an unwillingness of a family to pay? Again, I’m not suggesting that fundraising be cut completely, but I am suggesting that our district’s fundraising practices be closely re-evaluated. My guess is the fundraising answer lies somewhere between “nothing” and “I’m going to need to take out a second mortgage.”
An answer to our concerns as parents isn’t going to always be black and white. The answers are going to take a willingness on our part to stand on principles and have our voices heard. And our voices aren’t going to argue, offend, degrade, demean, or attack; rather, they will question, discuss and debate.
And somewhere in the middle, with a little give-and-take -- and without having to pick a side -- we’ll find our mutually “inclusive” solutions.