Editor’s Note: The American Empire May Crumble But You Still Need To Help Your Kids

I’m not going to beat a dead horse. We know that the JCPS school bus mess is, well… a mess, but after a conversation with a friend last night, the bus mishap seems just another symbol of a crumbling empire. Our roads are full of holes, bridges tentative at best, schools failing, inflation out of control, maternal mortality the highest of any developed nation (for every 100,000 live births, we lose almost 33 mothers), and yet, elected officials want to talk about abortion, adding guns to schools, and drag story hours. What an embarrassing train wreck. It’s stupid upon stupid.

America’s fear of change and development is to our absolute destruction. 

We see it with the way our jobs have been set up to trap us in servitude for 40 hours or more, and we’ve seen the panic that owners of skyscrapers are having because their staff want to work those 40 hours from home — because they can and more efficiently. We see it with how our learning environments are set up with a lack of flexibility and quality within that flexibility to keep kids engaged and learning. It isn’t that NTI, or other digital learning doesn’t work, it’s that it can’t work in the system we live in. 

And despite the scattershot of information and issues politicians want us to be angry about, all of these things are intrinsically connected. To fix a piece of the system requires that we adjust and fix the whole thing. Are you willing to do it or are you still worried about bogeymen?

With inflexible work lives and a rigid system driven by the needs of capitalism, this empire has some big issues, cannot sustain itself, and while it’s clear the system is failing, some of us who are raising kids in this world aren’t doing a very good job on our part, either. Yes, we’re busy and yes, we’re tired but through all of that, we have a duty to the people we brought into this world to equip them to survive it. 

This week’s bussing nightmare in Jefferson County was certainly exacerbated by the fact that even while drivers were running behind, many children have no idea of their addresses, phone numbers, or even their parents’ full names.

Parental folks, what are you doing? 

Give your kid the tools to be safe. We can’t place all the blame at the feet of the education system, or bussing, or even Republicans (who we can blame for shitty education budgets) when the kids’ first teachers — ahem, parents — have failed to give kids the most basic of information to help them find their way home. 

Instead of blame, I think collective action is what is necessary to make this school year work better, and to open new pathways to making JCPS a better school system in ways that don’t involve money because we know until state legislators are changed, public school budgets will continue to suffer. 

I realize that I’m writing this as a parent of a child in a small-town school system in Indiana but I was educated through JCPS. What I also realize is that because of our small town, school parental involvement is somewhat high. Perhaps, it is tougher to get parents engaged in a system as large as JCPS.

The one positive from my son’s time at a local Montessori school was the contract for parents to spend 10 hours a year involved in some way helping the school. It was an easy ask. It could have been cooking meals for teachers, cutting paper for the classrooms, cleaning the classrooms. There was something for everyone to do, no matter your schedule. 

Maybe as JCPS moves forward and figures out the transportation, parents can begin to work together to make the system better for their kids by taking part. It’s a small thing but a step that can shore up a system in crisis while we battle to get the rest of our systems in this nation to move forward and modernize. 

Last week was a big “L” for JCPS and they have to own it but it doesn’t have to continue to be one for the kids.