Legislative Update and Reflection
There was no legislative sessions this week, giving us all a good chance to catch up and forge ahead. Staycations have their purpose.
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The week also provided a good opportunity for reflection. I referred a posting to my Facebook page on how the French have banned plastic for restaurant use. Some how, I’ve never quite understood how using a piece of plastic to eat a meal pays off in the long run. The meal lasts twenty minutes and the plastic lasts 200 years. That same kind of thing makes me crazy about packaging - my flavored drinks come wrapped in foil and packaged in plastic. The plastic is seldom recycled and well, the drink lasts two minutes. I often notice that packaging is in three layers - the layer it’s shipped in, the layer it’s packaged in, and the layer that contains it. Cereal, for example, comes in a bag, packaged in a box, and shipped in a larger box - however, cereal boxes are largely recyclable and thats a good thing. Who recycles a fork?
Why we allow styrofoam cups in the modern age is another of those things that perplexes me no end. For a cup of coffee we destroy the ozone layer?
Education is a state and community right and responsibility. Education is a state’s right issue. For me, education is a community development issue. In Maine, the role of the community is so important that we have a “local control” rule about adoption of educational mandates. Well, most of the time.
Yes, we are about to turn all that on its head by directly granting families tuition which they can use to pick the school they choose. That sounds like great philosophy - choice is a good thing, or so we think. But like recycling plastic, we allow the near term convenience to determine the long term consequence. We too easily choose the expedient without regard to the important. We make our selfish choices and let everyone else face the consequences.
Of course, given a choice, every parent would choose the best school. But in that action, the community looses out and the parents loose out. In that scenario, no one has to have the conversation about why the local school is failing or what to do about it. The convenience of vouchers mitigates the responsibility of confrontation. In a failing school, the system can only get worse - or worse yet, those who are stuck get worse. Only those with the wherewithal can make the move, leaving those without the means - simply without recourse. Voucher systems allow, permit, and almost encourage civic desertion.
And the real loser in the long run is the community. A community that can not muster a school ceases to be a community - it looses its identity and its sense of purpose. Steal the children and rob the future.
As citizens who care for the community, and care for the community of the world, we need to be strong enough to question ourselves and others, and face that right and responsibility. Good conversation, good debate, and good compromise are the ways we make a better world.