Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eulogy for teacher

I think we all love to look at photographs of our parents in their youth - I know I do. Whenever I have the time and opportunity, I love to read the paper from cover to cover, especially on Sundays. When I reach the mix of wedding and golden anniversary announcements, I stop and take time to study the strangers' faces there before me: smooth, youthful exuberance along side the criss-cross crinkling of wisdom and time. Always, I become wistful, and nostalgic.

I love the city of Colorado Springs with the same sort of wistful nostalgia...with the love of a child for its parent. I embrace this place where I was born and raised and came of age - its schools, neighborhoods, landmarks and scars - good or bad, and with warts and all. The history of this city is my own...and its future is mine as well.

The media is both, history's scribe and storyteller - so it's important to present a complete picture - what's known as "fair and balanced." The current tendency to rely more upon sensationalism than good old fashioned fact-finding is certainly cause for dismay. This is especially true in television; but it is increasingly true as well of our last bastion of truth: the press.

On the subject of education, the print media is quick to shine a spotlight on the easy news - the latest school shooting, charter school collapse, and improper teacher-student relationship - but astonishingly slow to report stories that might actually require the rolling up of sleeves and digging in the dirt. For example, as the D#11 "Chaos Board" debacle played itself out, the media put the disgraceful display front and center, and stood close by to help fan the fire; and when the recall succeeded in silencing and removing the offending board members, the media loudly proclaimed victory. Conversely, when D#11 announced it would close nine schools primarily in low-income neighborhoods - when those children needed a voice and a champion - the media was more wallflower than cheerleader...quietly covering ill-fated fundraisers and goodbye gatherings, instead of asking hard questions and demanding straight answers.

My school years at District #11 were some of the happiest and hardest times of my life. I credit D#11 schoolteachers and our city's newspaper - which I still refer to as the Gazette Telegraph - for having taught me to read and write; indeed, they both taught me so well. How difficult it is for me, then, to witness first-hand the slow decline of both; to watch as prices rise and content shrinks and viewpoints tilt ever more to the left. With each passing day, I find myself more at odds with the groupthink in current vogue...amazed by the fence straddled and word unwritten...and sickened by reporting so lopsided as to be rendered insignificant.

At last I recognize that the Gazette is a willing apologist for D#11, as evidenced now: Glenn Gustafson and Jan Tanner need to spoon-feed some very bland pabulum to the credulous citizenry of Colorado Springs, and the Gazette's education writer, Sue McMillin, is their reliable go-to girl.

My heart breaks to see the teachers I once adored and respected, whoring and demeaning themselves like crack addicts - why, for love of money? Compromising their values - and for what? To be duped by practiced liars? To abet in a cover-up? All, for the glad-hand and atta-girl and pat on the back?

As a people, it's alarming how complacently malleable we've all become, and accepting of a spun recollection. If ignorance is bliss, then no wonder we're all so happy.

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