The garish flash of the electric blue bulbs of the Old Playhouse Theatre is hard to miss on an evening drive down Brawleyâ€™s Main Street. A few years ago, the centenarian movie house received a mild facelift, yet a peek through the glass doors betrays the true nature of the structure; a decrepit and decayed interior uninhabitable only but to pigeons and rats.
Such is the case with Brawleyâ€™s Measure M scheduled as a ballot measure for November elections. Measure M calls for a brand new $14,000,000 bond to build a new school with support from some in the community who â€œwant education to thriveâ€, achieved with additional burden to already â€œvery givingâ€ taxpayers. The bond measure serves only to provide the illusion of a so-called thriving education, without any of the work, study, or careful thinking required to produce what should be the community-wide desired product of Brawley schools: curious, questioning, and well-read youths, exposed to a wide range of classical and contemporary studies, that develop into moral, productive, participatory citizens.
Rather, it is much easier to borrow and spend $14 million to build the glittering facade of a new school without the effort and toil of confronting the real problems and doomed fates of many Brawley students.
Much simpler it is to spend a several hundred thousand dollars of borrowed money to build out â€œSTEM Labsâ€ and â€œincreas[e] student access to computers and modern technologyâ€ than it is to educate and train muscled readers of books versed in all genres and subjects capable of writing, reading, and speaking skillfully.
To some in positions of influence, it seems somehow possible that Barbara Worth 2.0 would be able to educate young iPad-wielding engineers and mathematicians, all the while many are unable to read or speak English proficiently, let alone the multitudes more incapable of even reading or writing at grade level.
Itâ€™s also much more appealing for a self-styled bigwig to have their name cast on a bronze plaque of a six-figure multipurpose room and get a picture taken cutting a thick red ribbon, than it is to instill discipline and drive in students, ensuring they are qualified to advance a grade before being passed off like a hot potato for the rest of their K-12 education.
Without question, Measure M will pass, likely with resounding support in the 65-70% range.
Fundamentally, Brawleyâ€™s citizens and parents have two choices. One, challenge, likely single-handedly, the accepted practice of therapeutic spending, administrative and Board apathy regarding rampant illiteracy, and elect not to choose the lesser of evils in future elections and run yourself. Or, two, sit back, stay home, remain quiet, and watch beige, stuccoed, fenced in cell blocks be built on borrowed money, meanwhile new generations are less capable than the last, preparing your pocketbook for the rollout of the next twenty to thirty million dollar piece in the never ending queue of ever more â€œvitalâ€ and extortionate projects.
Ultimately if this course of action, community culture, and attitude remain unchanged, BESDâ€™s motto â€œLighting the Way to the Futureâ€ predicts a pretty dim next few decades for Brawley.
Palo Alto, CA.