Education is messy. Like any system, nothing in our public schools is simple. While it’s really easy to point the blame at teachers, school boards, and the government, the problems run deeper than that. Yesterday, it came to light that a school in Pennsylvania had enacted a controversial practice of trying to recoup the money families hadn’t paid towards their children’s hot lunches. A firestorm of comments broke out across social media. A handful of people* defended the district’s idea, but the general public seemed to be outraged.
But like all things in life, things aren’t always how they seem. When I did a search on Twitter at 6:30 PM, only one person actually tweeted at the school district. Their Facebook page didn’t reveal much either. People opined all over the news yet none of them suggested the one thing that might actually fix the problem: speak up to the school.
The same thing happens in the personal finance world. One blogger will lament the fact that school teaches so little about life. Another will say that they learned about algebra and Homer but little about consumer education and finance. Seconds later, the floodgates open with people commiserating about how ill-equipped they were to face the real world.
It’s heartbreaking that people feel this way. It’s equally tragic that these comments are going unheard. You see, it looks like hearts and favorites, retweets and quotes are signs that people are listening. But remember your audience. These aren’t the stakeholders of Canon-McMillan School District in Pennsylvania. This isn’t the curriculum committee that designed your high school units of study. These are your followers. People who sought you out for ideas and insights, laughs and GIFS. These are the people you follow. This is a curated list of people from around the world that you–or Buffer or some other tool that I’m too inept to use–selected to follow.
If you see something, really say something. If you want to talk about real life, talk in real life. Step outside the echo chamber and have a real conversation. No one can change what happened, and the only way to try to prevent it from happening again is to get the dialogue going.
*My eye is twitching. Yes, the post is coming. No, I’m still not calm enough to write it without saying naughty words.
So Tell Me…How do you really say something? What issues matter to you? Share links if you’ve got ‘em!
Note: In case you’re so inclined, here’s the link to the school district and the letter I mailed to the school principal.
September 20, 2016
I’m certain that you, your school, and your district are overwhelmed with feedback from the public regarding your hot lunch program and the strategy the school board employed to recover money from families. I’m also certain that a lot of that feedback hasn’t been diplomatic, kind, or productive. Of course, this is a complex issue that is being boiled down to a few paragraphs in the media.
Nonetheless, I’m writing to you in the hopes that your district will reconsider your program and find other ways to ensure that all students’ basic needs are being met without making students feel different, ostracized, or responsible for something outside of their control. As someone who is very familiar with public education, I still only have a fledgling understanding of the nuances of school budgets. But balancing a budget at the expense of hungry children can’t possibly be the answer. Certainly, as an educator who has students’ interests at heart, you know that. In fact, I doubt very much that you were even involved in the policy. Still, I couldn’t not say something. You have my support as your lead your school and your district in a new direction.
Thank you for doing what is best for children,