This is the second part of a tale of education, the government, and rats…for the first and third parts, check the other posts.
Seriously people…those of you who know me know that a spotlight is *not* my idea of a good time. In fact it’s generally my worst nightmare come true. I worked in the theater industry in college – on the stage crew. THAT’S my idea of fun – near the dramatic, creative, awesome people, but dressed all in black behind the scenes.
So last Friday, I felt compelled to write a post here about the conditions at a local high school, Roosevelt, which I shared with my neighbors, and it maybe, sorta, kinda drew a lot of attention. GREAT in terms of bringing attention to the issue at hand…UGH about it being associated with me.
Poor, poor LD…
Oh drop the sarcasm. Such is life, and I know it.
So why on earth am I posting again this morning? And probably sharing with my neighbors again?
This is why:
From: DC General Services
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2015 3:35 PM
Subject: Email from DC Dept. of General Services (Intranet Quorum IMA00119780)
The Department of General Services (DGS) is aware of the issues at Roosevelt High School at McFarland is aggressively working with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) to address all concerns; prior to students return in August 2015.
I feel *so* much better now! I am super excited about the fact that my city government sent such a thoughtful response! They are on top things! They’re aware of the issues and working aggressively.
(for the record, do you know how many AWESOME side-eye gifs exist on the internet??)
OK DC Department of General Services (who, by the way, I never actually reached out to, so obviously someone forwarded them my letter or something)…let’s go over the reasons this is a ridiculous response.
I never e-mailed you, so not sure why YOU are responding. I e-mailed the Mayor (no response), School Chancellor (no response) and my local Councilman (a good response, although I’ve since learned it was a response that was copied and pasted to everyone who contacted him on Friday…but I’m going to let that go…or maybe I didn’t just now…but I understand he was likely inundated, crafted the one response, and used it…we’ve all done it…)
Saying “YOU” are responding is a stretch since this came from the “Customer Service” e-mail…come on guys…phone it in much?
This message addresses nothing – literally nothing. You’re aware? How long have you been aware? And what are you doing? How about a little who/what/when/where/how?
Now I have very carefully avoided re-engaging in all the debates and back-and-forth that have spun up on my neighborhood e-mail list servs since my last post. I didn’t want to be the face of anything, the voice of anything, and most certainly not that pain-in-the-ass resident who causes trouble for downtown.
Seriously – my friends know I’m a happy-go-lucky, let’s give peace a chance, kind of gal. A rainbow-butterfly-unicorn-kitten is my spirit animal.
But these are children we’re talking about. And pretty darn serious issues. They warrant a serious response from our government and our leaders.
I was ready, willing and able to be patient – to an extent. I did *not* expect to see construction begin at the dilapidated McFarland building Monday morning, nor was I holding my breath waiting for a thoughtful, detailed plan from downtown to grace my Inbox this week.
But this message? This canned, frankly bullshit, message? It’s an insult.
Part of what made me write my original note on Friday was what I saw at that meeting – a lot of angry, frustrated, outraged families who had no idea how to truly advocate for themselves, yelling at a panel of “sympathetic” suits who (no offense) by all appearances were having this meeting to take the outrage.
It’s a standard practice:
Step 1: Do something that is going to anger people
Step 2: Draw straws to see who has to tell the people
Step 3: Hold a meeting to announce the angry-making thing
Step 4: Short-straw-guy stands there and takes the anger
Step 5: Everyone goes home
It’s truly a tale old as time.
Except for one thing…the city has changed. As a life-long resident, I’m not always a fan of the changes (seriously, how many sidewalk cafes can one sidewalk hold???) but the one change I *adore* is the willingness of the residents these days to stand up for what’s right. This is not a silent populace any more. No longer will Yes Men representing the government be accepted.
And even better – those newbies to the city seem to recognize there is a large constituency of those who have BEEN marginalized, disenfranchised, disregarded and disrespected for YEARS, and they are ready, willing and able to DO SOMETHING.
And, best of all, not only are they energized, but they have the skill sets needed to effect change.
It’s kind of a nightmare come true for the government I’m sure.
So, dearest governmental leadership, while I’m not a fan of getting myself blacklisted for speaking up, I’m even less of a fan of injustice to children. I know that the things that need to happen are going to take some time, but how about a clear, transparent process about what you’re DOING? How about a thoughtful response from someone in power, not just a canned answer that felt a lot like a pat on the head in an effort to make me shut up and sit down? Because I have some bad news for you…I’m a product of your system…one of the ones that truly worked it and benefited. I went to the best DC Public Schools – West Education Campus, then Benjamin Banneker Senior High School. I attended GWU and Howard U. I’m truly invested, educated, articulate, and God help you, I’m the Chief Information Officer for a non-profit – so I know how to use the internet, and fighting for causes has been my thing for over 20 years.
I’m not going to shut up and sit down until our children are cared for and Bigboy and Hunchback are just a legend.