Lorain City Schools- Guest Blogger -Kelly Boyer Sagert
Sing Along with Me: Memories . . .
By Kelly Boyer Sagert
Photo- TMC News
Three years ago, we were furious! We were outraged! Three years ago, we knew that we needed to do something – anything! everything! – to register our disapproval with the direction in which our school system was headed.
Lorain City Schools had just eliminated 243 teachers’ jobs and 22 preschool teacher aides’ jobs, with the fine arts programs shredded. We shouted. We sobbed. We hand-painted signs, we protested outside of the building where school board meetings were being held, we made sure that we were being heard. We begged television stations to show up, telling them that it was important that the community at large hears about what was happening to our schools. Important? Hell. It was urgent!
People waited in long lines to speak during the public portions of the school board meetings. People in the audience listened intently to what was being said by those standing at the microphone. We clapped uproariously in support and we gasped collectively in dismay.
PHOTO- TMC News
People marched in with banners emblazoned with cards signed by members of the community, insisting that the fine arts programs be restored. The marchers received resounding whistles and cheers. They were our heroes!
Attending those school board meetings consumed a significant amount of time – but, nevertheless, the room brimmed with teachers (those still employed and those recently RIF’d), parents and students – and Lorain citizens with no direct connection to the school system who understood what was at stake if our school system was brought down to its knees.
After the meetings ended, if you were a WoM blogger, the night was still young, because you were anxious to get home to blog about what had just happened. You had to transform your chicken scratch into legible prose, but it felt so good because you were doing something valuable. You were actually making a difference! Then, you couldn’t go to bed. Oh, no. Not yet! There were comments – lots and lots of lovely, impassioned comments made by people who wholeheartedly cared about our schools – and so you stayed up late to respond to them. We were, if just for a blip in time, a force with which to be reckoned.
This time . . . Eh. Not so much.
Three years ago, I didn’t miss many school board meetings – and I needed a darned good reason to miss. This past year, I attended a few meetings . . . very few . . . and, when I did show up, it was all so very, very quiet . . . I think I left early once or twice, too, but I can’t really remember. Maybe I needed to go grocery shopping. What can I say. I tend to run out of lettuce and toilet paper.
Very few people bother to speak up these days at school board meetings. The audience – well, we’re scattered about in chairs located here and there, with plenty of free leg and arm room for all. And, sure. We hear what’s being said but don’t feel inclined to participate ourselves. That would mean we’d need to actually stand up and walk ALL the way over to that microphone.
We’re drowning in apathy – muddy, yucky, stinky apathy. We feel as though we’re in the middle of one of those dreams in which we know we should run or jump or do something – anything – but our muscles are weighted down and we feel as though we’re trudging through sludge. We know that all is imploding, right in front of our very eyes, but we just can’t seem to muster enough energy to try to do something about it – or to get out of the way in the faint hope that the other guy might try.
I know that I should create a heartfelt conclusion right about now. Maybe even pen a rousing call to action! In fact, my English teachers would have insisted that adding some sort of relevant finale would be necessary, but . . . yawn . . . I don’t think so. Not tonight, anyhow. Instead, I think I’ll just turn in early . . .
Original photo Mark Teleha