Schools districts nationwide have hit the crisis point, and Houston is not exempt. We did not catch the slow changes surrounding us, the discord being perpetuated by neighbors and colleagues. Seeing through the fog of the comforts we’d grown accustomed to was a challenge.
Schools are in crisis. A movement developed, highly visible at school board meetings and on social media, born of a desire to maintain control. Incredible, diverse districts risk becoming empty shells, reflecting the rigid systems rooted in power imbalance. Gaggles of elites gossip and demand adherence to societal conformity, an inflexible mold maintained by the unspoken threat of ostracization.
Schools are in crisis. Division erupted in local school board elections and our communities witnessed a shift to cruelty, a strange version of reality where the bullies are no longer on playgrounds, but are the adults we once respected. In Spring Branch ISD, a kind woman and dedicated volunteer found an atrocious letter in her mailbox denigrating her very existence. Sent to intimidate, it informed her she was no longer valued, and that she was looked down upon by the very community she cherished, all for the transgression of endorsing a candidate she believed would best serve every child.
Schools are in crisis. Driving through some of the more affluent and less diverse neighborhoods, we saw signs reading “don’t HISD my SBISD”. We wonder what that really means. The school board there faces the dilemma of how to best serve and represent every child, despite repeated demands to maintain the skewed system of representation. This makes it difficult to gloss over the casual racism of these signs, knowing the district is 60% hispanic. Manifestations of the bully mentality perpetrated by those old enough to know better.
Schools are in crisis. Parents are being actively coached to harass school boards in outrage over books they’ve never heard of, much less read. Faux outrage fostered by those who wield anger to ensure yet another election where only the elite have a voice. Skilled manipulators of the ever-changing hot topic, these bullies drive their personal political agendas into our schools.
Schools are in crisis. Beloved teachers, librarians, and principals rashly targeted for being the defensive line that protects our most vulnerable children. Bullies demand the termination of educators whose goals are to enrich the next generation, to elevate the precious minds we place in their care, and protect those who might be lost without them.
Schools are in crisis, our communities in shreds. For some, the fear of losing control is a greater motivator than reaping the rewards gained by embracing every child. We must all take a stand, lest we find ourselves in an Orwellian nightmare where the figurative pigs take over managing the farm, with the expected consequences.
The solution is not to banish Orwell’s novel for making us critically analyze the ramifications of absolute power, nor is it to ensure the pigs retain control. The solution is to speak up, to stand for the children who cannot yet stand for themselves. Remind our peers to not get swept into the chaos of the next political storm that’s certain to worm its way into our children’s education. No more tacit acceptance of the bullies’ unethical manipulations.
Let us not wait until there is no one left to stand, lamenting the fractured pieces of our community. Instead, embrace compassion and empathy, find ways to build districts where hate has no home. Learn from those already advocating for our youth, and join the fight for every child.