Thursday, January 14, 2021

The Times

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’
There were the before times. Now we're in the troubled times. With any luck those too will pass and we will enter the after times. We obviously are not getting through the troubled times unscathed and we will not continue through the after times with all restored to the before times. Some things will be irrevocably changed and some, like a shattered porcelain can never be repaired. 

It would appear, at least in DeKalb, that public schools are one of those things shattered and changed. Parents are increasingly certain they are not getting what they feel entitled to under the before times "social contract" joining the mere taxpayers who've long known this contract was a farce. Administrators are under extraordinary financial pressure. It is no surprise given an accounting system that resembles labeled coffee cans for revenue and shoe boxes for receipts and no one monitoring who takes how much out of which can or what ends up in a box. It is no wonder DCSD has consistently failed to provide the State required audit information.

Then there are the teachers. The poor, put upon teachers. The ones who should be asked about any administrative policy before any action can be taken. Not because they are responsible. Not because they are accountable. In any way. Not because it is their job. It is the sense of empowerment derived from the job-for-life aspect of their career that allows them to go all Statler and Waldorf on any perceived misstep others may [or may not] have made, all the while deflecting criticism by claiming they are underpaid and underappreciated. Pressured by parents and administration they are increasingly hostile and lashing out with threats and attacks. 

But the times...they are a-changin'. 

The general public, parents and taxpayers alike, have been forced to confront the party of the second part of the social contract: the devil that is public education with which they've made an increasingly one-sided deal. The teachers who are on the attack act as if they can restore the before times and that there will be no lasting fallout nor consequences from their hyperbolic pyrotechnics. But there will be. There already are. Not once have the most vocal of these teachers openly considered that their threats to quit, to leave the classroom, might be met with gratitude, as an offer to solve the budget woes by removing some of the most expensive, the most complacent, the most outdated from the payroll. They've begun a campaign of geo-socio-economic divisiveness broadly targeting North DeKalb and Dunwoody in particular, with what appears to be a goal of "cancelling" outspoken members of those communities. It is as if they wish Dunwoody didn't exist, or given that it does, that it would go away. This aligns with many in North DeKalb that would indeed like to part ways but should they make effort to do so these same bilious voices will be raised in objection. Not to the loss of Dunwoody parents or children, but to the loss of money. Money to fill their pockets. At least they seem willing to haggle over the price though it would seem to undermine their constant threats of quitting. 

Maybe words do matter. Maybe things said in the heat of ego fueled tantrums will have serious consequences. Maybe this will drive the political will needed to break some of these mega-school-districts into more easily managed, more effective, more efficient, and yes, smaller districts. Maybe, ironically, it will be the voices of South DeKalb that lead to the creation of a Dunwoody, or North DeKalb School District. If that happens, thank a teacher.