So I’m drinking beer and keeping up on election results, which is of course a terrible idea.
There was this thing on the Colorado ballot. We’ll call it Amendment 66. This is a gross oversimplification, but it would’ve made school funding in this state suck slightly less than it does now. As you might’ve guessed in this wild-west state where people don’t like taxes, it went down in flames.
I hate to talk about politics and issues here, because every time I read a blog post about politics and issues it’s pretty much the most boring thing ever, although to be fair I don’t know if that’s because these are inherently boring issues for a personal blogger to tackle or because most personal bloggers who write about these things are doing so in a blatant attempt to stir up controversy and create pageviews, which is super lame. (I have another post in me about how the current monetization climate in the blogosphere (puke) is destroying my will to live or at least to ever go on the internet, but that’ll have to wait until after I tell you about how Dexter Fowler’s shoe closet and assholes like Richie Incognito are destroying my will to watch sports even though my fantasy football team isn’t all that bad this year.)
Where was I?
Okay, so. I’m a big hippie who likes to pay taxes so we have adequate (or even more than adequate — imagine that!) funding for things like education and services including but not limited to police and fire and good stuff like roads and bridges. I believe that as humans, we have a responsibility to our community. We’re all in this together and we all have to kind of (hippie alert!) share and help each other and take care of the stuff that benefits all of us. Or to speak in terms conservative people who don’t agree with me on these issues might understand, we need to make sure the kids who will one day be changing our adult diapers at the nursing home have received an adequate education such that they attain adulthood in a reasonably functional capacity.
As you might imagine, my hippie tendencies often put me at odds with the majority of the people of the state of Colorado. It’s weird, living in Colorado, which is something I’ll talk more about in a minute. It really is the wild west, where people (I’m generalizing in an annoying way because I don’t want to be here all night) like their guns and more than anything else in the entire world, they hate paying taxes. Seriously you guys, Colorado Springs exists.
I grew up in Illinois — specifically, the suburbs of Chicago, where people love to pay taxes. Well they probably don’t love it, but they do it and, as a result, the schools are fantastic. I got a top-notch education, not because my parents were super involved with the world of education but just because getting a top-notch education was what you do. You just roll out of bed and show up at your neighborhood school and they educate the shit out of you. It’s that simple!
So it’s weird to adjust to living in Colorado, where people don’t want to pay taxes to fund things like education. As a community-loving hippie who thinks we all need to help and care about each other and be concerned about things like education, I don’t understand this. I mean, even if you don’t have kids, you want the children in your community to get a good education so they grow up to be reasonably intelligent, functional adults, right? Even if you don’t particularly care about kids or education, isn’t it in your best interests to live in a community inhabited by educated people? Can I get a “Duh!!” here?
I watched Amendment 66 with caution. It wasn’t a perfect amendment, but we sorely need to increase education funding in this state, where we care about each other and our communities . . . oh wait, no we don’t. We don’t care. We didn’t pass Amendment 66.
So that sucks.
Another thing I’ve been thinking about schools goes like this. Even with the education financing issues we have in Colorado, there are good schools and bad schools. The good schools are usually (this is shocking) in the neighborhoods and communities of, well, let’s be honest, rich white people. Maybe it’s a school in a rich white neighborhood or maybe it’s a charter school in some random neighborhood that is attended by the children of rich white people. These schools get the same funding as any other schools but because of the rich white parents, they are able to raise extra money to do things schools not attended by the children of rich white parents can’t do.
As a not rich person, this pisses me off. It should piss you off, too. Because it’s not fair. And it’s fine that life isn’t fair, especially when you live in the wild west. As Jack London, my favorite childhood author said, “Eat or be eaten” and all that shit. But it’s inherently unjust that unfairness should affect the education of children. You have to remember that children, whatever their situation — poor parents, illegal immigrant parents, asshole parents, rockstar parents — are innocent. They all deserve the same chance at life. If you disagree with this, you probably need to fuck off.
Anyway, what I wanted to talk about when I started writing this post, if I can even remember, is that this all sucks for me personally (I am blogger; hear me roar about myself).
Here is the real situation as the not rich parent of a child living in a not rich neighborhood of Denver. Our neighborhood school is not good. I’m sure there are active parents, but I can’t find them. There’s no PTA website or Facebook page or any of the trappings of an involved parental community. Because of school choice, we can (through a lottery, so it’s not guaranteed) choice into some other school, such as one of the . . . well, fancy white people neighborhood or charter schools in the area.
Honestly, choicing into a fancy white people school has kind of been my plan for a while now. It seems like a good idea. But the more I think about it, the more I think it seems like selling out. Maybe we should go to our neighborhood school and make it work for us! But the more I think about that, I worry that this is unfairly inflicting my hippie ideals on my child. Is it unquestionably better for him to attend an objectively “better” school? I don’t know, and I can tell you right now that this is going to be an exceptionally difficult decision to make.
The other issue is that I’ve realized, because of the educational funding issues in this state, regardless of what school Soren attends, Ben and I are going to have to actively supplement whatever public education he receives with, well, more education. I don’t think that, in whatever form it takes, a public education in Colorado is going to be enough. And that’s cool, because I’m a pretty educated (in all the wrong ways) person. It’s just weird, as someone from Illinois, to recognize that I live in a state where public education isn’t going to be enough. Isn’t that weird? Sometimes I wonder whether it’s so weird that we shouldn’t be considering moving, say, back to Illinois. I seriously wonder if it’s unethical as a not rich person to raise a child in Colorado. I think that’s pretty fucked up.
The good news is that the taxes on my personal marijuana purchases will fund at least 18 schools in Colorado. The marijuana taxes all passed (I voted in favor of the state tax but not the separate Denver tax) because if there’s one thing gun-toting tax-avoiding Coloradans love, it’s taxing potheads.