Sunday, May 22, 2005

They did it

Well, to parapharse Dora the Explorer, "They did it! They did it! They did it! Screw them!" They've closed our neighborhood elementary school by a vote of 6-1 on the school board. This is despite all the input from the public and especially the Roosevelt PTA. It was almost as if from the beginning they decided they were going to close the two elementary schools and no matter what other options were offered, they weren't even going to consider them.

It's sad, it's aggravating and it's mostly just a great example of just how screwed up things are all across the country these days--because the education crisis is certainly not unique to Ames. But perhaps the most frustrating thing personally is that it marks the 3rd time in just over a year we've felt passionately about something and been on the losing side of the argument. The first was when we backed Howard Dean in the Democratic primaries--and what ended up being the impetus for us to move to Ames. The second was watching 51% of the country re-elect one of the most idiotic presidents in the history of our country. We worked our ass off for Kerry even though I would have done that for a purple turd running against Bush so it didn't have as much to do with Kerry as it did with Bush. And now this.

But the battle is just beginning. To start off with, parents in the community are appealing to the State Board of Education saying that the school board didn't follow proper procedure for closing the school. I think it's probably a long shot, but it's worth examining. We also have to work to keep the playground on the school grounds open as it's an anchor for the neighborhood. The last elementary school the Ames school board closed resulted in them fencing up the playground because they didn't want to keep up the insurance. Cheap bastards. First they close our school, now they want to take away our playground. Tell that to my 3-year old.

We went to what amounted to the "defeat party" on Friday night--quite on a whim--and met a whole bunch of cool people who are fighting mad and willing to do something about it. And it doesn't just stop with the school. It goes beyond the school board and extends into city business. It's all about smart growth. It's about re-investing in our downtown and our city rather than just building on the outskirts of our cities. I mean, you really have to look no further than 30 miles to the south to see what happens when you focus only on your suburbs and ignore your city. Des Moines is pretty much a shithole everywhere except in West Des Moines.

So the fight continues. Because it's the right thing to do. And to do nothing is not an option.

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