Monday, June 23, 2014

Why am I Fru-strated

My wife and I LOVED our house(s) in downtown Mountain View. She was "The girl next door". I was the "peeping Tom" (ironically, she was the one who noted that you could see into her house from mine, I hadn't even noticed, but I needed a nickname). We walked our dog all around the neighborhood. We walked downtown to meet friends, or to get a bite to eat. Our daughter was born in a beautiful home birth in our own bathtub. We loved everything, UNTIL I started to look into schools, and found out that we were in "worst performing (according to API), by a large margin, elementary school district in the area - Castro". NOTE: I believe that this school has continued to improve, like the rest of the neighborhood, but I was not patient enough to wait. Despite the fact that we loved our location, we decided to sell our two houses and set up roots in a great family-oriented neighborhood with a wonderful neighborhood school system (LASD). Unfortunately, at the time, I didn't know anything about the brewing "battle over bullis". I still remember biking with my daughter to her first day of kindergarten. I've enjoyed volunteering at the school when I am able, and getting a chance to meet her classmates and their families. The environment was the epitome of what I had dreamt for my family, EXCEPT for the ongoing lawsuits against the district from the charter school. Now, don't get me wrong. I voted for charter schools, because I envisioned them as a viable alternative for what I saw as some failing public schools. I still believe that some solution is needed to improve the educational opportunities for those less fortunate. BUT, I am 100% against a charter school that was founded out of spite (mistaken, in hindsight, closing of last public school in the hills), and I believe is being used to further political motivations (fight labor unions, republicans vs democrats, etc) AND/OR offer a government subsidized private education to the wealthy. I was surprised when I met some neighbors who are attending Pinewood, because I felt like I had just invested my whole life savings to move into a house in LASD, but now I respect those people's decisions more than ever. I think that I agree with the "concept" of school choice, but in my world, choice costs money. When I grew up, we all had "choice" - we could attend our local public school, or pay to attend any number of private, catholic, etc schools. Now, before you envision a wealthy environment like our own, I grew up with a single, full-time working mother, and we lived in the same small two bedroom apartment for 20+ years. We didn't really have any choices, but you know what, we were happy. That brings me back to our situation here in Los Altos. It seems such a travesty to me that we are fighting these battles between LASD and BCS when EVERY person in this fight absolutely has access to an excellent, free public education, something that many in our country do not have access. Maybe, someday, we can focus our efforts and energy on fixing a real problem, liking helping kids who truly lack a viable education.

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