Friday, October 29, 2010

Riches to rags

A couple weeks ago, I was sitting in the Brownsboro ISD District Educational Improvement Council meeting. (I am the representative for the junior high campus. That makes me sound important, but don't be fooled, no one else volunteered;) The council was discussing the district's money issues (honestly, I was kind of tuned out at this point because we had gotten off-task and stumbled onto this subject) and I hear, "You know, a school like Highland Park....(WHAT?! Ears are perked up now. Is that MY high school our Assistant Superintendent is talking about?!) ....the state could take 10% of Highland Park's money and they could go to their parents and just get that money back from them." The woman beside me says, "Well, then they should have to give 20%!" and laughs. I look at her and say, "That's MY high school." Awkward silence.....

But I knew that what was said was true. Highland Park can count on its parents to deliver what is needed for their children, whether it be their time or money. From most people's perspectives here in Brownsboro, Highland Park parents are able to do this because they are very wealthy. But I know different. I grew up there.

Obviously, most people who live in Highland Park make larger incomes than people who live in rural East Texas. Highland Park is filled with doctors and lawyers and successful business people. There are hundreds of million-(or 2 or 3 or 4 million)-dollar-homes stacked side by side, raking in the tax money for Highland Park ISD. Daddy paid $9205.62 in taxes to HPISD last year (Yeah, Daddy, I looked it up;) and Seth and I paid $952.93 to BISD. Yup, I'd say that's a sizable difference.

But you say, THEY ARE RICH! THEY CAN AFFORD IT! But you know what? They are just like you. They spend what they have. Their money is tied up in their home (or homes), their cars, college tuition, etc.

But if Highland Park ISD asked their parents for something, they would get it. And you want to know why? Not because they are rich, but because those parents have made their children's education a priority. They dream of their children going to Yale or Harvard, while some Brownsboro parents are just praying their kids graduate high school. For example, when I took off a semester from college, my friends staged a huge intervention. They thought I had lost my mind! The mentality when you grow up in HP is not IF you will go to college, but which 4 year university you will chose to attend.

Brownsboro ISD is trying for the second year in a row to pass a bond election. We want to build a new elementary school and update and add-on to the other elementary school. We want to renovate the junior high school. There is mold in our walls. Our junior high students walk across streets and through parking lots to get to class. There are major safety concerns at these campuses. They are not properly equipped for disabled students.

The improvements the school district is asking for would cost a homeowner of a $200,000 home an extra $21 a month. To me, $21 a month to pay so that my 12 year old students don't get run over by a car on their way to history class doesn't sound like too much to ask. $21 a month so my 5 year old doesn't have to breathe mold everyday sounds fair.

But, a surprising number of people in our community are against the bond. People want to make excuses as to why they are voting "No," but the real reason is that they are not making the children in their community a priority. They are not even making their own children a priority. How are the teachers supposed to inspire these children to believe that they can accomplish anything, when their own parents and community are telling them, "You aren't worth an extra $20 bucks a month?"

I grew up in a rich district and I came to Brownsboro and hoped I would be able to make difference, but I cannot do it alone. If you haven't already, please Vote Yes for our Brownsboro Schools!

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