shit hits the fan

November 5. 1999

Home again. At least it's not (as) weird this time. I haven't cried yet. But things still feel foreign. Earlier tonight I went in the kitchen, looking for something to eat, and I got this weird feeling that I should ask before going through the cupboards. I had to remind myself that I was home.

Instead of having my parents drive three hours round trip to pick me up, I took a bus home. It turned out to be less than a thrilling experience. I took it into Harrisburg, but the first stop was in King of Prussia, right outside Philadelphia. We ended up driving around little side streets there because apparently the driver didn't know where the bus station was.  So what should have been a 2 and a half hour trip turned out to be three hours. The bus smelled strongly of a bathroom. Someone started smoking in the coach the middle of the trip. *sigh* I was glad to get out of there.

The rents picked me up at the bus station and we went to the Walnut Street deli downtown, where I found nirvana in the form of an excellent reuben. Last reuben I had was in NYC, openfaced...a travesty, I tell you. I was glad to finally get one made the right way.

Upon talking to the Ďrents (who had that charming giddy "we're so glad you're home" thing going on) over dinner, I discovered all is not well on the home front. My mother had mentioned this over email, but I had not realized the extent of the crisis until they told me then: my parentsí supply budget has been cut by 42%.

A little explanation is required here. My parents are both art teachers. My Dad teaches junior high and high school art, and my mother teaches at several of the elementary schools. Where they teach at (which isn't where I went to school, btw) is probably the sorriest excuse for a public school Iíve ever seen. The school district mostly covers a very spread out, rural, poor area of the county. So the stereotype of the poor little rural school is quite the reality here. They was planning on some major renovations...a new middle school (I remember my Dad being so excited when he was showing me the blueprints of his new art room), renovations on the high school, a new elementary school, and renovations on the rest of the elementary schools. Then something happened, and they lost A LOT of money in a bad contractor...in excess of $25 million dollars, as I understand. So. No Renovations.

My father is one of the few people (maybe only person) who is actually working in the same job, the same position, in the SAME ROOM even than when he started teaching, at age 22 in 1976, fresh out of college. In other words, this is my Dadís 23 year of teaching. He is in the same small, cramped, unairconditioned room he was in in 1976. Is something wrong with this picture?

My Dad tries so hard. So hard. He loves his job, I know. He just gets sick of the administrative bullshit that goes on in this poorly run, under funded school district. I donít blame him. Heís been shafted so many times by kids, by parents, by other teachers, by administrators for doing what he thought was right in regards to teaching and just general respect and ethics. My fatherís a tough guy. Iíll be the first to say that. And sometimes people donít react well to his approach to teaching. But he also has more integrity than anyone I know.

My Mom has it somewhat better. Up until three or four years ago, she had been pushing a cart full of art supplies from classroom to classroom, because she didnít have an art room to hold classes. She had 10 x 6 foot closet instead. Then she finally got a beautiful art room. And she was so happy. However, the other school she works at, she is still stuck in a small closet and pushing a cart. Going into that school is like stepping 40 years back in time. It literally looks unaltered from about 1960 or so.

A school district in this situation obviously is bad for the teachers. But who I really feel sorry for is the kids. No child, in the supposed great country of the United States of America, should have facilities this shoddy. Especially when, at the other end of the county, there is a school district who has just finished $45 million dollars in renovations to their high school and middle school. I know, because thatís the school I went to. It just blows my mind, looking at my school, with this brand new campus, beautiful computer labs, football fields and art rooms, and then look at my parents' school. It really just saddens me.

There is a school board meeting coming up this tuesday, and my parents are attending. There are rumors that more money than originally thought was lost, and there are rumors of embezzlement. In light of their 42% budget cuts, I asked my mom if her and my fatherís positions could be eliminated. She looked me in the eye and said, "Worse case scenario."

During last summer, my father was looking into positions at my school. My mom is three credits away from getting her elementary certification, which means she could teach regular elementary classes. I know, because of her seniority, if her art teacher position ever got eliminated, she wouldnít have a problem getting a job. Thereís supposedly going to be a huge shortage of teachers in the next few years due to retiring of the baby boomers, so hopefully, if anything happens, my parents wonít be left without a job.

God. I thought the arts were coming back in public schools.

I also found out some other bad news. During high school, I was friends with Ryan and Darrin. I found that their older sister died in a car accident a couple weeks ago. It actually happened about a quarter mile from my house, on Route 343, which goes right by my house. She was 22. No one deserves this. *sigh*

A piece of good news, though, midst all the horror. My little sister, Lauren, has made county and district chorus. Not bad for a 10th grader, and not bad for a soprano one, which is generally a very competitive voice part. Hereís hoping for regionals, now, sista. Go Lauren Go Lauren Go Lauren Go Lauren Go Lauren Go Lauren Go Lauren Go Lauren Go Lauren Go Lauren Go Lauren.

And wow. Almost 1000 hits in a little over two months? geez. I am flattered. Thanks to all who read.

music: Kate Bush, Never for Ever
food: Jolly Ranchers
read: more Newsweeks to catch up on
sight: home...
random: There is no word for virgin in the Egyptian language
Song Lyric:
Iíve been in the soul-quake happened here in a glass world / particle by particle
she slowly changes
- Concertina, Tori Amos