Other Voices: Gold Run School is too special to close
No one seems to care much about a crisis until it becomes personal.
The earthquakes in far-off places are tragic, but my walls are still standing. The plight of the starving is heartbreaking, but, as an adult, I have always had food on my table. I give to causes, but there is rarely a personal connection.
Well, the crisis of education has now become personal. I have taught high school students for the past 14 years, in Los Angeles and in Nevada County. I have worked with the changes in student behaviors. I have stopped asking if the English department can afford new books or an updated curriculum.
I have weathered the storm alongside many worthy and honorable coworkers, staying true to my own educational creed of giving my all for the good of all. Despite being weary, I love my job and continue to believe education is the best road to a successful and fulfilling future.
However, I could take no more with the announcement last week that Gold Run School may be sacrificed due to budget problems. As an educator there are many things the current educational crisis has forced me to give up, both personally and professionally.
Yet I never thought I would have to add the closure of Gold Run School to the list.
Woe is the day when our children bear the burden of our indulgences. How can it be that the average hard-working Californian must sacrifice their children’s future, while others are indulging in bonus pay and corporate tax breaks?
Every August for the past five years I have walked hand-in-hand with a child of my own onto the campus of Gold Run. Letting each of my children go their first day has been difficult, but over the years the routine has become familiar and comforting. As the teachers become friends, as the students bond from grade to grade, and as the campus becomes less scary and more fun, my children are woven into the fabric of Gold Run.
When I take my next child to her first classroom come August, will the picture in front of the Gold Run sign the first morning of school not exist in her memory book? Will she not walk the airy path toward her classroom, feeling the waning summer air as she looks for her name on the paper heart in front of the door?
Will she not experience the feeling of walking in her big brothers’ shoes as she sits in the same room where her three older siblings once sat? Will she not experience VIP week, delightfully celebrating her uniqueness? Will she have the same high standard of education I once believed California schools could offer?
And if I wonder these things now, what will my questions be 10 years from now?
Of course, my daughter may have similar experiences wherever she goes to school. Yet, as any college grad knows (and as my USC husband declares each fall during college football season), a school is more than a place, it is a missing piece to a puzzle in progress. It is a feeling of acceptance, loyalty, and belonging. A school is so much more than a place.
I love Gold Run School because it is the right puzzle piece for my family. I know and trust the teachers will care for my children. I know my children relish the many opportunities to play on the field or the large playground.
I know they beam with happiness while relaying the latest assembly, or explaining how Mr. Jon talked all day. I know they will be guided with loving discipline by Principal Wiley. I know Ms. Mahaffy will always take a moment to say “hello.”
I know these things because Gold Run is not simply a school, it is a home away from home. It is a refuge in a time of great confusion as to the future of my children’s education.
I refuse to turn a blind eye to the problem at hand – the closure of my children’s school. I vow to fight for the young people in our community, seeing that their voices are never heard by those who choose to be indifferent because the problem does not affect them directly.
Education affects all of us. Someday the children we neglect now will rise up and be unable to lead us in the future. I wonder what will happen then?
Please think twice before closing Gold Run School.
Debi Fairchild lives in Nevada City.
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