Hey Congress: Pull Up Your Big Boy Breeches

Having children from New York public schools sing was a nice finishing touch at the Oscars. Somewhere Over the Rainbow is a favorite of many people, particularly those who remember when Judy Garland sang it. But make no mistake about it – there was a message embedded in that number: If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why can’t I?

The answer, dear children, is because the grown-ups are fussing over money, again. This time it’s a big school-yard brawl with bullies on all sides, including the press, as some third-graders in Arlington, Texas have learned.

The school district in Arlington is facing a $48 million shortfall. Just imagine trying to save up that much money in your lifetime. Bill Gates and Oprah might be able to do that, but all the rest of us might as well try pushing a dead elephant uphill all by our lonesome. It’s plumb near impossible.

But that didn’t stop two third-graders from trying. Silly kids, always trying to change the world. They haven’t yet learned to give up on their dreams. These girls, good friends, got together and held a bake sale. They stayed up all night long on Friday night cooking and held the bake sale on Saturday morning. They called it “Cookies for Cuts.” Their goal was to raise $400 but as kids are prone to do, they blew that to smithereens. They raised a whopping $1296! (Makes a person wonder if perhaps we ought to put third-graders in charge of Congress and the budget. We should send all those politicians back to school where they could study up on what it really means to be a good citizen).

When the local TV station heard about what these girls were doing, they sent their reporters out to interview them. The girls made the evening news, which sort of make them mini-celebrities in their neighborhood, which doesn’t really amount to a hill of beans. It won’t help a kid pass the state assessment test or ensure that her favorite teacher won’t be out a job next year. But it’s always nice to recognized for doing good things, and beats the heckabus out of having your third-grade mug displayed for doing something bad.

But then one of those Big City TV shows heard about the good deed and they wanted to tell the rest of world about it on one of their Sunday morning news shows. They called the girls’ moms for a pre-interview. In the news business that means they were trying to figure out the “hook” for the story. How could they tie in what was happening in Arlington, Texas, to the bigger story of what’s happening in the rest of the nation?

The reporter asked one of the moms if she had turned the money over the school district yet.

“No. Not yet,” the mom said, explaining that they had requested a meeting with the district folks to do that.

“So you’re saying the school board is ignoring you?” the reporter asked.

Well, for pity’s sake, nobody ever said any such thing. That reporter was making stuff up, the way writers do sometimes for the sake of a good story. But kids understand things grown-ups rarely do – there’s a difference between a writer who writes for fun and a reporter who is supposed to tell what’s happening for real and not make it up.

Thankfully, this mama knew full-well the difference. She tried to set the reporter straight: “No, they aren’t ignoring us. They’re in the middle of working on their budget crises and I fully support the school boards and want to work with them on this.”

But the reporter, she didn’t like that answer. She had it set in her mind how she wanted the story to go and she was intent on making it happen. You know how it is when two of your friends get in a tift with each other and one of them comes to you and says “You have to choose between her or me?”

That’s what the reporter was trying to get these moms to do – choose between the school board or the teachers unions. She was bullying these moms. Now it’s bad enough when kids who don’t know better, or even ones who do, act the bully. But when grown-ups do it, well, gosh, that’s just pitiful.

It makes a person want to drop to their knees and pray, which is exactly what these good mamas did. They prayed and decided that Big City TV show could just stay the heck out of Texas. They didn’t want their daughters’ good deeds exploited for the sake of a headline.

It’s ugly enough the way politicians are pushing the teachers around, threatening to take their jobs unless they do what they tell them to do. You kids understand how hard your teachers work, how much they care about you, and how school often becomes your home away from home.

Given all that’s going on behind the schoolhouse doors, it’s pretty wonderful that these third-graders pulled on their big-girl panties and did what the politicians are all failing to do – they found a creative way to raise some money.

Congress needs to take a lesson from these girls. It’s time they pulled up their big-boy breeches and got to work doing something constructive, instead of picking fights all the time.

Didn’t your mamas teach you anything?

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About Karen Spears Zacharias

Author. Speaker. Journalism Instructor. Four kids. Three dogs. One grandson.

  • http://middletree.blogspot.com JamesW

    Wow.
    Thank you.

  • http://koinepdx1.blogspot.com AF Roger

    One o’ these days we’ll figure out that one of the root causes of the current battles between state leaders and public employee unions, and between school boards and oceans of red ink, is the ever rising cost of health care and health insurance. It’s the A-number-one reason why so many jobs have been exported, one big reason why revenues are down and budgets are in crisis everywhere: the employee is the enemy here in America. To hear one side tell it, half of America is bent on spending us into oblivion (even as this side steadfastly refuses to fund or pay for little things like wars). Our response seems to be cutting everything back to the Stone Age, but you can bet that what gets cut will be token stuff, ’cause real cuts to people with the money won’t be considered. It’s the money that buys the glasses through which Congress sees the world and the next election campaign. Even as the President is out cheerleading us to out-educate, out-build and out-innovate the rest of the world, the Jalopy of State seems to be burnin’ rubber as fast as its bald tires can–in the opposite direction. Maybe when the unaffordable costs of health care, the costs of unfunded wars, the costs of our failure to become energy self-sufficient are finally called what they really are, tax increases on the present and the future, maybe then we’ll sober up enough to start thinking and working a different way. Whether we’ll do that before we trigger a global economic collapse is anybody’s guess. But until we begin to think differently, I don’t see how we can possibly begin to DO differently.

    Again, you’re on target, gal. Time for a time-out to let the kids tell some truth to power.

  • Steve Taylor

    Ditto to Roger. The emperor has no clothes but we continue on the parade as if. Either us streetlight people need to raise our voices or form some low technology communal farms … maybe both, because the bones of this empire are in serious decay. We seem to forget that Jesus had much to say about all of this; hence the reason the feds visited his momma’s house. Seems he had a word to the powers when they named God’s justice as something other than what it was. He called it blasphemy. It’s no wonder he told them a little story about binding the strong man and taking his stuff. Does anyone have tape?

  • http://zwiker.com jaz

    You know that I adore you, right?

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Awww… shucks…

  • Debbie

    I love the way you truth!

  • Lillian

    Great thinking and putting it into words.
    Sorry I didn’t get to talk longer when you called. Looking forward to conversing when you get here.
    I have one friend (Reba) that loaned Double Wide and didn’t get it back so she bought another copy.
    You will get to meet her at breakfast Wednesday morning
    Drive carefully.
    Lillian


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