Power of Story
Send a Tweet        
- Advertisement -

Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn 1 Share on PInterest 2 Share on Fark! 1 Share on Reddit 1 Share on StumbleUpon 1 Tell A Friend (6 Shares)  

Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites (# of views)   No comments
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds

Battle Scarred Schools

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Carl Petersen     Permalink

Related Topic(s): , Add Tags Add to My Group(s)

View Ratings | Rate It

opednews.com Headlined to H3 9/6/15

Author 503224
Become a Fan
  (5 fans)
- Advertisement -


Elmwood Classroom with whiteboard material covering old blackboards
(Image by Carl Petersen)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

"The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals. "

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

- Advertisement -

It had been years since my sister and I had been back to the neighborhood where we grew up, but last month we had the chance. In New York for a family reunion, we took an afternoon to roam Rockland County for a trip back in time. We already knew that our childhood home had been bulldozed long ago as had the Nanuet Mall where we had spent many weekends as teenagers, so these would be visits to addresses rather than childhood shrines. However, the schools we attended are still standing, so these held the possibility of giving us physical connections to our youth. As we pulled up to Elmwood Elementary School, eagerness quickly turned to shock. My sister turned to my mother and asked, "How could you have sent us to such a dump?"


I know that my education was better than reflected in the current state of the district's facilities. While it is often true that the past is often looked at through rose colored glasses, this was not one of those times. In our day, Dr. Lillian Glogau ruled that school with an iron fist and would never have tolerated the abandoned state of the baseball field. What happened to the school yard full of playground equipment? The domes, slides, tunnels, see-saws and even the "big cheese" have all disappeared to be replaced by a few paved handball courts and one climbing apparatus. How is that possibly enough for a school full of children eager to blow off pent up energy on a spring day? When I think of the hours I spent looking out the window counting the minutes to recess, I cannot help but feel sad for current students and their view of disrepair.



Looking out an Elmwood Window on a clear day
(Image by Carl Petersen)
  Permission   Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -
Fortunately for them, the school has solved this problem as a good many of the windows were so old that they have become barely translucent. Instead of outside view, they can stare at water damaged ceiling tiles or fantasize about when the missing tiles will be replaced. Most of the blackboards must have passed the point of obsolescence long ago as they have been covered up in an attempt to hide their inadequacy. At the end of the day, they can count down to dismissal on the same clocks that I did, painted, but definitely showing their age.


For me, the biggest blow came when I tried to visit the band room. This was the place where I had hoodwinked the teacher who tried to talk me out of playing the drums by pretending to not understand what he tried to teach me about other instruments. It had been replaced by what appeared to be an occupational therapy room. The dedicated music and art rooms had been replaced by regular classrooms. Unfortunately, this is indicative of our education system as a whole rather than this individual school; the arts are too often sacrificed in efforts to increase the test scores in a system that values data over a total educational experience.


The damage that I observed did not happen overnight and shows that neglect has long term consequences. The specifics leading up to the challenges facing East Ramapo may be unique, but the circumstances are not. The fact is when "'programs that [benefit] the private school community [are] increased' while public schools [bear] the brunt of the cuts," public school students loose. In East Ramapo, those private organizations are orthodox yeshivas and the Los Angeles Unified School District, where my children attend schools, they are charters. Either way, I look at the battle scarred schools of my youth and wonder what kind of message we are sending to our children. When our schools are so starved for cash that they become decrepit, do we really think that our children get the message that their education is important?


The paint cannot hide the deterioted metal on this Elmwood Clock
(Image by Carl Petersen)
  Permission   Details   DMCA

A ceiling tile hides a portion of an Elmwood Blackboard
(Image by Carl Petersen)
  Permission   Details   DMCA


Stained and missing Elmwood ceiling tiles
(Image by Carl Petersen)
  Permission   Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

____________________________________________

I am a former candidate for the District 3 seat on the LAUSD School Board, founder of Change The LAUSD and member of the Northridge East Neighborhood Council. Opinions are my own.

 

- Advertisement -

View Ratings | Rate It

http://www.changethelausd.com/

As a father of five, I have personally seen what happens when the LAUSD's massive bureaucracy stands in the way of our students. In my case, the district made me fight for the services that my daughters' teachers agreed they required. I knew (more...)
 

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon



Go To Commenting
/* The Petition Site */
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Follow Me on Twitter

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Related Topic(s): , Add Tags
- Advertisement -

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Conman-In-Chief and His Unshakable Fans

Separate and Unequal: The NAACP Report on Public Education

Moving Past 100 Days: The Lies Continue

The First 100 Days: Trump Builds His Wall

Indivisible?

Team Red vs. Team Blue - The Further Fragmentation of America