COMMENTARY by JOHN McGLOTHLIN
The bonds passed and we are going to have some nice campus improvements. But without anything else, nice new buildings will not sufficiently address our problems.
I graduated from San Marcos High School in 1994 and my first-born will begin at SMHS in August, so I guess I have been here for a while. I have seen several bonds pass to fund new buildings and renovations. The bond elections have marked peaks in community interest in the schools, but the interest has always waned before we see the real change we need in local education. This is because new buildings do not address the real problem in the district – student poverty.
In four of our six elementary schools, more than 78 percent of the students come from economically disadvantaged households. Children from poor households are as capable of learning as the more affluent kids, but they face bigger hurdles. Most local children in poverty live with a single parent who is forced to work long hours, because San Marcos has largely low wage jobs and rents are inflated by the huge number of college students paying rent with FAFSA loans.
The demands of the long workdays, living in poverty, and their own experience growing up without enough positive role models combine to render even well-meaning parents poorly prepared to parent. The results are kids who spend too long on Playstations, do not get enough rest, are improperly nourished, and do not have the self-control or discipline to succeed in the structure of a classroom. When the fundamentals are that askew, the STARR test results will not be what we desire.
The bond proposals seemed to me to be the right answer to the wrong question, because building new buildings won’t solve the fundamental problems facing our kids. What San Marcos urgently needs is a broader community effort at … well … being a community. If you supported the bonds or if you didn’t, I would ask you to go a few steps further so the money won’t be wasted:
There is likely a lot more we should do, but we can all start right now by doing something. Interest is at its bond election peak, and I would hate to see it once again subside with the only thing left to show for the peak being a couple more buildings to house our disconnected children.
The district has stated its goal of becoming a school of choice for families who currently choose other districts, but first we all need to love the ones we have.
McGLOTHLIN, a San Marcos attorney, is executive director of Mission San Marcos, a local nonprofit “dedicated to changing the future of San Marcos by fostering enduring relationships with local families.” He can be reached by email here.Email | Print