Sometimes pictures just don't tell the story.
There was something just too adorable about the early morning sight of the parents and children at Natalie's elementary school gathered along Melrose Avenue with their homemade signs for what surely was the first civic protest of most of their young lives.
The smiling faces and infectious energy of youth added to the positive spirit of the event, but felt somehow too divorced from the grim reality of the LAUSD and our crumbling public education system; our mismanaged resources and our misplaced priorities as a society.
Like schools all across the state and country, Natalie's school is being hit hard by budget cuts. Four beloved teachers are getting pink slips and already overcrowded classrooms will bulge even further. Teacher to student ratios that would have been unheard of a generation ago are now the norm and getting worse.
Custodial staff, medical assistance, special needs classes, and of course any arts-based curriculum are all among the hardest hit and first to go in the new reality.
It was nice to see a community pull together and organize and speak out in protest, but without any media attention and only the encouraging honks of passing cars to demonstrate solidarity with our cause, it felt insufficient to even begin to stem the tide of losses that are affecting the real lives and futures of both teachers and students.
There is so much money in this economy - how is it possible that we spend trillions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan, bail out banks so they can dole out mega-bonuses, and can't afford to pay the meager salary of a second grade teacher.
Should education only be a privilege for those who can afford it?
Shame on us!
P.S. I know I promised one of Natalie's original picture books in my last post, but I had to get this online now to get the message out. The "bookmaker" will return with her creation on Friday!