Sunday, March 16, 2014

Seattle Public Schools - The Price of Support is Too High

Action expresses priorities. - Ghandi

I never worry about action but only inaction. - Churchhill

Inaction breeds doubt and fear.  Action breeds confidence and courage.  If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it.  Go out and get busy.  - Dale Carnegie

The time for action is now.  It's never too late to do something. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What's with all these inspirational quotes?  To inspire you to realize that the time is now to stand up and do something about Seattle Public Schools.  You do this, of course, for your own child(ren) to make sure that their school is the best it can be and that you feel confident in the education they are receiving.  

But, if public education is (as I believe it is) the backbone of our great country, you must do this for all public school children.  YOUR school is really only as good as ALL schools in the system.  

Action expresses priorities. - Ghandi

I have read the Strategic Plan, I went to a community meeting on the Strategic Plan and I ask and listen and I still - don't - know.  

It's really about that  I have no idea how or why this district has set its priorities.  If you asked any parent about long-term district priorities, I'd bet they would say, "close the achievement gap."  Beyond that, I'm not sure what parents would say.

At the community meeting at Hale, there were about 50 parents and many SPS staff.  We had to watch the district video, we had to listen to the NE Executive Director, extoll the virtues of the NE and the "needs" of the district which (big surprise!) include "enhanced data use", increased enrollment and limited capacity and ensuring culturally responsive schools.  (On the latter, I have no real idea what the district is doing to move the needle.)

Is enhanced data use really an SPS priority for parents?   

I sat at a table with parents who could have been the same parents from 10+ years ago.  Why?  Because they were unhappy with many of the same issues.  How can that be?

What do they see as relevant?  The real world issues that affect their lives (and their children's lives) on a daily basis.  Mostly, it was transportation.  Day-to-day issues mean more to them, right now, than any strategic plan.

Now, you could say to yourself, "Well, but we need to look at the big picture" which is true but the concerns about the daily lives of students and parents should be the canary in the coal mine for this district. 

Make no mistake - I believe our SCHOOLS mostly function well (in spite of the district) but the district itself?  Not really.

That the district is now on its second try to get the HR department right (and paying $100k+ to be in this Urban Schools Human Capital Academy) should tell you something.

That the district continually tinkers with transportation and parents are still unhappy about transportation should tell you something.  How do you engage parents in a big picture when they can't figure out how to get their kids to school on time and get themselves to work on time?

That parents feel the communications from the district about important issues AND their ability to access information via the Source and Fusion is poor should tell you something.

Our tables were directed to discuss three topics.  The first one was very droll - what would you do if you ran the district?  Thornton Creek principal John Miner was at the table.  He is such a credit to this district and he got very excited and said things like resources - libraries that are up-to-date, more PD for staff, more visual/performing arts.  Other parents added counselor/family support worker/nurse/psychologist for every school. Things that involve schools on a daily basis and would enhance the school experience for every single child at each school. 

Other parents were unhappy about transportation, communications and info from the district (VERY unhappy about the Source/Fusion for both parents and teachers), culturally relevant ways to communicate with school communities (hint: not online).  Better surveys from the parents' POV and not full of ed jargon.  Ability to access the lunch menu (seriously, this is problem?).

And there is the feeling that the district is trying to "balance its budget on the backs of parents."  Whether it's making transportation schedules that are not working parent-friendly or making more school-level cuts, parents feel frustrated.

And, most of the parents had little idea about Common Core and what was coming.  One mom said, "Oh, we're at an Option school; we won't have to do that." 

One parent asked why the district doesn't ask parents with relevant business skills for help on issues like demographics, transportation, etc.  No answer but I've heard that question asked for years. 

I never worry about action but only inaction. - Churchhill

But, did I hear anyone say at this meeting that it is all TOO frustrating/worrying to stand by and do nothing?  I did not.  

I get that people are busy and often feel they cannot make a difference.  It takes numbers, folks.

It takes many, many parents saying no to high-stakes testing.

It takes many, many parents to say they will not continue to raise money to pay for staff and maintenance at their schools.  The state doesn't fully fund education and now the district does not want to fund basic education. 

But, that's not supposed to be YOUR worry.  That's the district's worry and by enabling them to move money where THEY want it and not where it is truly needed, you allow this to continue.  

It is your job to let the Board and the district know - over and over - comes from the movie Network, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore."  

The time for action is now.  It's never too late to do something. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I note that the parents rallying around later start for middle/high schools are doing a great job.  They are lucky that President Peaslee has made this her project but I think even without her, they would be making forward motion.  So yes, it can be done.

One question on the list at the community meeting was something like "What will you as a parent do to support the district?"  It seemed to baffle some parents.

I suggested that maybe it was support in terms of levies.  One parent said she was dismayed when the district used passage of the levies as a "mandate."  She said there are "no line item vetoes" in the levies so she just votes for them but that the district is wrong to think it's a wholesale endorsement of everything they do.  

Nothing gets a district's attention like losing a levy.

I think there are many good, smart, hard-working people at district headquarters.  

I agreed that the current upper management team seems more unified than ever in the past.  

But that parents do not understand the biggest education reform since NCLB is coming (in the form of Common Core) means that someone at headquarters does not believe it is important for parents to know.  (Or, more likely,  they don't want parents to realize what is happening until it is too late.  As of now, it is NOT to late to ask hard questions.)  

That parents in this district grapple with basics like basic school funding and transportation and getting information is a big signal that all is not well.  

That the Board seems to be rowing right along with senior leadership is troubling but yes, that's what they are doing.  It's a pity but not surprising.  Boards come and go (as do superintendents) and yet, not much changes.

Personally, I'm tired of supporting this district. 

Go out and get busy.  - Dale Carnegie

That "Get busy" phrase?  

The calling card for one of my favorite activists in the Southeast.  

The two words I whisper to myself when I start my exercise (which is running stairs).

The next move is yours. 

Don't wait for anyone else.  

Get up and get busy.


Anonymous said...

"...their ability to access information via the Source and Fusion is poor should tell you something."

Melissa, as an extension, maybe you could start another thread on this (sorry if I've missed it in the past - please link if so). As an SPS teacher I would love to hear what parents like/dislike about the Source & Fusion. Is it limitations in the tool (and if so exactly what aspects)? Is it that teachers don't update the Source? With Fusion is it particular tools not working, limited teacher usage, inconsistent styles of teacher usage, errors in posts, etc? Some families may be able to make comparisons to tools in districts they've moved from and/or private schools they have their children in.

At least the Source allows grades to be posted more timely than the traditional gradebooks. What else do parents want/need to see in the Source (this could help those of us who read the blog some be more aware of changes to lobby for in the future... well, if teachers ever truly had any input into district technology decisions of this magnitude). Similarly with Fusion, what specifically is the good, the bad and the ugly?

The "good" is important to note so those of us teachers who read this can maybe implement more of the suggestions as we're apparently contracted with Fusion for 2 more years.

SPS Teacher

Greg said...

But what will be effective? What actions will make a difference?

We have spent years trying to get good people on to the school board. As you just said, Melissa, even very promising people like Marty McLaren and Kay Smith-Blum start rowing right along with senior leadership and not much changes.

Right now, I feel like things are looking bleak for our public schools. Overcrowding, with the only plan to deal with overcrowding relying on portables and hope. Politics, incompetence, and dishonesty from district leadership and administration, to the point that our schools succeed not because of central admin but in spite of them. And Banda is supremely disappointing, more of a don't-rock-the-boat figurehead looking to jump for the next step in his career than someone trying to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our administration and operations. Meanwhile, the Board seems incapable of even doing the basics of enforcing policy and auditing budgets. It's all very depressing.

If electing new school board members doesn't matter, what does? What actions would help? What can we do that matters?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Greg, did you not read what I wrote?

Parents must do something en masse.

- stop enabling the district to not fully fund schools. Don't fund staff or maintenance for a year. That will get their attention.
- opt out of any testing that isn't absolutely required. That will get their attention.
- Write to the Times and The Stranger and the City Council and the Mayor - as a PTA - and tell them you are doing these things because your district is not running well.
- pledge to yourself that next school levy, you will vote no and you will work against it.
- get five friends (who then get five friends) and show up at Board meetings and just hold up signs, "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." Or go to a Director community meeting and do it.

It takes numbers, it takes bold (and public and yes, painful) action to get their attention but yes, that's the price to get change.

Otherwise this district will whimper along as the powers that be decide that data warehouses, more testing, and urban school academies are more important than school clerical staff, counselors, nurses and libraries.

Your choice.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, Washington State is ahead of the curve of this tsunami of ed reform. It's a good, good place to be.

But the price of inaction is that it will come, sooner or later.

Greg said...

I did read what you wrote, Melissa. But I did not get out of it that you were advocating for voting down all future levies.

Sorry if I am being dense, but your only mention of voting down the levies is "nothing gets a district's attention like losing a levy."

Let me make sure I understand. You are saying, if we want district administration to improve, parents should vote down all future levies and organize opposition to all future levies?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Greg. I hear your frustration, Melissa, but I don't think your suggestions are helpful. They are either too vague ("stop enabling") or have been proven not useful (signs at board meetings? they don't care. I did this for years.) As for opting out, I don't think that most parents will do it, especially as those tests are a gatekeeper for certain classes. A classic catch 22, but they've got us. My kid needed algebra in 6th - I wasn't going to opt out of the MAP to make a point. I voted down the levy last time, but honestly in Seattle most people are always going to pass it, and it's not just parents of students who vote. I think in liberal seattle, the retirees, the childless, pretty much everyone - is going to want to do the right thing, and the group of parents (who read this blog and are actually aware of what is going on) won't be large enough to make a difference. Writing to the media? Don't think it will make much of a difference, and to your point, only maybe PTAs could do this, so most individuals are powerless. Going to Director meetings? Been there, done that. It's nice to be heard, but doesn't make a diff in the long run. I hate to sound pessimistic like Charlie or Greg, but I really don't have much hope anything can change. I did my advocacy, and nothing worked. Yelling at parents, "Well do something en masse!" isn't really helpful. And things are so bad, really all we can do is try to help our own kids get out as unscathed as possible. My efforts (time, money) are now being directed at mitigation of the crap experience my kids are having in SPS. I wish it were otherwise, but after 8 years of fruitless advocacy, there it is.
-Good luck

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, I did say vote down ALL levies. Just the next one and do it in an organized way.

One lost election based on real concerns and issues and you will see them rethink what they do.

What made me think of this is because one parent at the Hale meeting said "we didn't get a line item veto" and left the impression - as I have heard frequently in the past - that parents veto holding their noses.

If you think an organized group of parents can't persuade the grandparents and taxpayers of how poorly their tax dollars are being spent, you have little faith in the power of persuasion.

A small group of determined people nearly toppled the charter initiative. Bill Gates, his millions and his minions, nearly lost (and would have had the WEA done their job).

It can be done.

Really, Good Luck? You can't figure out "stop enabling?

STOP giving large sums of money to your school for non-PTA enhancements.

If every single school stopped, the district would pay attention.

If the parents at McDonald and JSIS didn't fund their IAs for a year, the district would notice. There's one example.

Actually signs at the Board meeting DO make a difference. One, you get more tv attention and two, did you miss how Pinehurst and the Native American program won the day? Were you in the room that night? I was.

If you don't care to make a point, don't. But don't think there's another way to get their attention because there isn't.

I have now learned that supporting any one for School Board is a fool's errand and I won't be doing that again soon.

By the way, I'm not yelling. I'm simply pointing out the obvious.

There is no easy fix.

Greg said...

I'm frustrated too and trying to figure out what will make a difference.

Voting down a levy is an interesting idea, but I think it has problems. It hurts us more than it hurts them. Our public schools and our kids in them get even fewer funds, and Banda and other district leadership won't care that much, they'll still get paid. Because of that, and because this is liberal Seattle, I think you'll have a very tough time convincing people that voting down a levy does more good than harm.

I wonder if something else might help more. What actually hits Banda and other district leadership where it hurts? What do they actually care about? Mostly their career, right? Where they go after Seattle? How can that factor in to how we could take meaningful action?

The only thing I can think of that hurts them is scandal. To that end, I wonder if the most effective thing might be going over the books and public records with a fine-tooth comb with parents experienced in auditing. The finances of the district are a mess, and story after story with lurid details on how messy they are could damage careers and should cause a lot of panic among the leadership.

But time and money working against levies, getting new people on the school board, protesting, and skipping testing? I don't think Banda or other district leaders care about any of those. Not really. They still get paid and still go off to their next step in their career.

Anonymous said...

Really, Melissa? Your dismissive and rude tone is unfortunate. Sorry if you disagree with me. And yes, I was at the meeting. I thought opinions were welcome here. Best of luck with your ongoing fools' errands.

-Good Luck

Blueglass said...

While I agree that SPS is the poster child for frustrating, I also have to agree with writer "good luck" that the response here was very dismissive.

Its been clear of late that frustration and anger levels are very high. They should be. But the answer is not to chastise your readers for not agreeing with you.

I think Greg is on a track that is closer to achievable - the only way to change people like this is to find "what hurts" - not what hurts schools (which ultimately things like cutting PTA funding of positions will do) but what hurts that powers that be down at HQ.

I don't have answers to what that "key" might be. But there are smart, thoughtful people who read this blog and probably do.

Anonymous said...

I don't really understand why the school board is this independent political entity that doesn't really seem accountable to anyone. How about an initiative to make SPS a department in City government under the direction of the Mayor and/or City Council? If that's feasible, that would certainly get the attention of SPS.

--Just brainstorming

Melissa Westbrook said...

Your dismissive and rude tone is unfortunate.

And I would say the same to you. (And, in fact, I did say in my original post was "enabling" was so it troubles me when I do explain what I mean and some readers fail to actually read the entire piece.)

You were at the meeting and you didn't think that Pinehurst and the Native American program parents did an effective job? We'll have to disagree because that was a hard sell to Board members but they did it.

"It hurts us more than it hurts them."

Greg, they are hoping you'll say that. Of course it would hurt but it would work.

And what scandal? Get rid of Banda and then what? Nothing.

I note that at least "Just brainstorming" actually has an answer rather than getting upset with me. I find that telling.

The Board is accountable...every four years.

But JB, we can't have the City take over the schools or the Board. Too dangerous. That said, I wouldn't mind if they took over managing Facilities.

But as people get increasingly frustrated, that idea of "maybe the City or City Council could do it better" may get louder and play right into ed reform hands.

It would be far better for parents to lead this charge rather than hunker down or wring their hands.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bluegrass. And Melissa, for the record, just because people don't agree with you, it doesn't mean we didn't read your post. Sheesh. Talk about condescending.

Greg, am with you. And I'm not wringing my hands, just being realistic. And would be happy for the city to come on in.
-Good Luck

Greg said...

Melissa's frustrated. I am too. We all are. Let's not spend a lot of time taking out our frustration on each other. I'd rather talk about what we can do, working together, that might make a difference.

I like Melissa's idea of trying to go after funding (the PTA funding and levies) but I worry it hurts us more than the central admin leadership. I'd still like to have more of a discussion about it though. Can we talk about it more? What do others think of trying to get a levy to fail?

And is there anything else that might be effective? Melissa didn't seem to think much of my idea of going after exposing scandals. Anyone have better ideas?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good Luck, if you read it but did not understand what you read, why didn't you simply ask, "what did you mean?" You didn't - you said they were too vague. C'mon.

Anonymous said...

If JSIS and McDonald PTSAs don't fund their IAs, Melissa, do you really think the district would step up??? Seems more likely they'd just say they aren't necessary. There are immersion programs out there that manage without.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I didn't say the district would step up.

I said it would get their attention.

The other immersion schools use Title One money for IAs but McDonald and JSIS don't have those funds.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Melissa. Thanks for this kick in the pants.

Mag mom

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that woul really get their attention anyway, except for maybe in a "hey, these schools are willing to do without IAs, maybe we can cut them from others too" kind of way. If they aren't going to step up, what's the desired outcome of that sacrifice?

And my statement re: programs that do without IAs was referring to places outside Seattle. Immersion may be popular here, but that doesn't necessarily mean SPS does it all that well.


Melissa Westbrook said...

The desired outcome is that if many PTAs withdrew their enormous spending, the principals would tell the people at headquarters.

They would get the message.

Again, it takes numbers to do this but it also takes the will.

It would take sacrifice but nothing else has worked. What else do you suggest?

Anonymous said...

Look at the school in the NE that is funding a counselor for their kids with PTA funds. Not the PTA's job. On the other hand, who suffers if they instead fund stuff the PTA should fund? Not the bureaucrats downtown.

Gen Ed Mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

The point of all this has two components (that seem to be missed):

- a coordinated campaign for a school year- where many parents/PTAS say no to funding staff and maintenance - WOULD get everyone's attention. I'm pretty sure the principals would let downtown know how much is NOT getting done because of the unhappiness of parents.

- there WOULD be pain, of course. I didn't say there wouldn't but it's a shared pain ("we're all in the same boat") and pain for a purpose.

But again, I hear no other alternatives and complaining will change nothing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Or, conversely, if you want the BIG experiment, ditch talking to the Board and district staff and start attending City Council meetings and show up where the Mayor is and ask for interventions. Tell your Seattle legislators you want their help in this effort.

That, too, would get the district's attention but boy, what a Pandora's box that would be.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I'm afraid the pain, however, would last a lot longer than a school year. Say the PTSAs decide to scrap their spring fund drives this year. JSIS, for example, wouldn't raise the money for next year's IAs. The IAs would lose their jobs for next year, and teachers would have a pretty tough time next year without them. The principal could then complain to the district that nothing is getting done. As the months drag on and the district hears from more and more principals that things aren't getting done, maybe they start to listen a bit. Optimistically, say that happens before the end of the school year. Since the proposed point of all this PTSA action (via inaction) is to get the district to shape up in general--rather than to fund these previously PTSA-funded components--maybe they say they will do better, lay out some clear plans (ha!), etc. Then we parents need to sit back and see how well they do, see if we can once again trust SPS with our money. Parents sit back and watch (while schools do without the extra funding for a second year). Being optimistic, let's say things are looking pretty good--or at least on an upward trend--by the end of that second school year. When parents come back in the fall, they are ready to go for it with a fall fund drive. At this point, however, it's too late to hire any IAs for the beginning of the school year, and would likely be a challenge to get them in place by mid-year. So that's 2 1/2 to 3 yrs without.

I get that this requires strong and coordinated action, but the action proposed feels to me like cutting off your nose to spite your face. (And no, I don't have a good alternative plan right now. But just because something is the only plan, doesn't make it a good plan.)


Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, it's not my children anymore.

Again, your move.

Anonymous said...

Great point HIMSmom. The point of all this, Melissa, which you seem to be missing, is that all your suggestions require more than short term pain (and significant pain) for our kids. I, and I think most parents, are not willing to "take one for the team" and risk YEARS of truly awful education in the hopes of getting the attention of the supt or the board. We need to do the best we can for our kids - so we will donate to the PTA and fund counselors and take MAP tests to get them into Algebra. You, as you point out, don't have children in the game anymore. So while I hear your exasperation and desire for some nuclear option, you are tone deaf to current parents. I've got an idea...I'm going to get my kids through this flawed system as unscathed as possible, then I'll chastise those parents that come after me for not doing more to storm the district office and demand change. They really only have themselves to blame, don't they? I can't wait to bring out my most condescending and irritated tone.
-Good luck

Anonymous said...

Good luck,

I understand your point as far as parents not being willing to sacrifice their kids for the greater good, but I think your criticism of Melissa is unfair. She seems to have been doing far more for far longer to improve SPS than the vast majority of us.

I have kids in the current system and don't feel chastised by Melissa. I feel that she is urging us to action. We can disagree on her approach, but we shouldn't take it personally, and we shouldn't make personal attacks in response. We all want the same thing people. Can't we discuss these issues without attacking each other? I don't really care who started it. Just stop.

--Play nice!

Anonymous said...

Play nice,
Fair point. I let her earlier comments get under my skin. It is childish to reply to rudeness with rudeness. I will try to do better, as I tell my kids. I do appreciate the work Melissa puts into this blog, I just wish it were more open to differing opinions. However, the bottom line is it is her blog, she can take any tone she wants. I think I will refrain from commenting in the future - I honestly wanted to debate the topic and discuss what to do, when we felt that past advocacy efforts have failed. I am beyond frustrated with SPS, but am not willing to sacrifice my kids as guinea pigs for the greater good. Wrote a check today for a school activity that should be basic services - I hate the PTA funding model, but those services are some of the few things that keep my kid interested in school. Apologies for my tone in the last post.
-Good Luck

Melissa Westbrook said...

"You, as you point out, don't have children in the game anymore. So while I hear your exasperation and desire for some nuclear option, you are tone deaf to current parents."

Opting out a a test is a nuclear option? Not to me. Didn't change my life or my sons lives in the slightest.

Tone deaf? I write a public education blog - years beyond when my own children are in school - attend committee meetings, Work Sessions, and Board meetings and talk to parents nearly every day and I'm tone deaf?

Everyone misses my point.

You will not get the change you desire without a big move and one that is likely to cause pain for a year or so.

It's absolutely fine that you say "not for me" or "I won't take one for the team" but then understand that protecting your child and ducking your head under the covers will not change this district.

I thought people wanted real change but apparently that was my error.

I was not chastising anyone; just saying what might need to get done for real change. You can do as much or as little as you want.

It always amazes me that if you push back at all on anyone's statement or opinion, there are some who take it that we don't want real discussion here. That's not true. But yes, be prepared to defend that statement.

And honestly, don't backslap me with one hand and then say you "appreciate all I do." If you can't sign your name to that backslap, don't try to make yourself look better by giving some half-hearted praise.

Anonymous said...

C'mon, Melissa. It's clear the conversation had turned to the "nuclear option" of not funding staff/maintenance (per your own 3/18/14, 9:23 AM post), and the pain that would result from that. We weren't talking about test opt-outs. Your subsequent "not my child anymore" comment came across as kind of childish, a "fine, well if you won't play by my rules I'm leaving" kind of attitude.

And your most recent comment that "if you push back at all on anyone's statement or opinion, there are some who take it that we don't want real discussion here. That's not true. But yes, be prepared to defend that statement" was pretty hilarious given the current context...in which I was DEFENDING my earlier position on why I thought not funding the immersion IAs was a bad idea! By providing details on which I based this assessment, I was under the impression I was encouraging the "real discussion" you say you want here! However, you obviously disagreed so shut down the "conversation." It was surprising to me, and I was glad to see "Good luck" call you out on it.

Your newest "everyone misses my point" and "I thought people wanted real change but apparently that was my error" comments come across to me as just as childish. They're also wrong. People aren't missing your point--but you seem to be ignoring theirs. And the idea that if folks don't agree with YOUR ideas they must not want real change? I'm going to assume that you're just frustrated, and that you really aren't that full of yourself, otherwise that would seem pretty obnoxious.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Last time, you don't have to agree with me but I had not ever wanted this blog to be a place to just complain.

I offered ideas; don't like them fine. If you don't want to be here, don't. I also don't have to be here either.

But I point out that no one -save Greg who said maybe there's a scandal in SPS somewhere - has offered one idea.

And yet people have plenty of time and ideas on how to attack me.

That's telling.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Melissa. TONE DEAF. You seem to be of the "what worked for my family should work for all families" attitude. Glad you skipped testing for your kids. For us, my kid needed to do algebra in 6th grade, and it was the only thing that year that engaged him. Should I have opted out of the MAP to please you and have him have a worse year than he had? And we made extensive (near daily) use of the PTSA funded counselor in elementary school for a severe issue. Should I have withdrawn my donation and had others do as well to make a point, even though my kid would have not even been able to attend school? So yes, I consider those the nuclear options. Your response "Everyone misses my point" is peevish and childish. And I don't post my name for that reason. Everyone knows this blog is a tough place and you go hostile sometimes and move into attack mode. This thread is a perfect example. Most of your posts I find informative, but there is no disagreeing with you, and it gets ugly quick on those posts. So you want an idea? (I seriously was looking for debate and suggestions - but yours seemed unrealistic.) I'm all for the city taking over. I think the mayor could do a better job, and I've written to say as much. You don't seem to be open to anything beyond "opt out of testing" and "stop PTA funding." I'm not making any more signs for board meetings. I agree with Greg, which is where this thread (and your tone) started. I think things look pretty bleak. But your suggestions would hurt kids besides your own - you have no skin in the game, so it is easy to judge us for our inactivity.
-Good luck