15 September 2010

School board meetings, love, and how change works on all levels

Jefferson Elementary School, September 15, 2010
School Board Meeting, Opinion Forum, 7 p.m. -- My three minutes.

Seven and a half years ago, I found out that the baby I was about to deliver had died.

Had Grace lived, she would be in second grade today.

What does her death have to do with the re-building of Jefferson school?


In that moment of her death, my family’s life changed dramatically. Our lives changed not because we wanted them to. But over time we changed for the better—slowly, surprisingly, unwillingly at times.

We are here tonight not to talk about the death of an infant, but the re-birth of a school that teaches hundreds of students to go forth in the world and change it for the better. This time of passionate, stubborn, immovable opinion, should not in fact be about anything at all except the lives of our children and our children’s children, who will have the privilege of going to an amazing school, of waking up and saying yes to their education, of saying yes to life in a school that offers what we promise them:

A safe environment in which to learn.

So I challenge the school board to offer our children the safest environment in which to learn, off of arterials and away from grocery stores. I challenge the neighbors who live nearby to embrace these children, to watch with wonder as five- and six-year-olds cross the street for the first time with their backpacks awkwardly strung across their shoulders. I challenge you to lay aside your disgruntled ways and choose instead to marvel out your windows at the beauty and wonder of what childhood has to offer and perhaps even open yourselves up to learn what these kids might teach you about life, about learning, about love, something that as I have sat and listened to you over the last six months, I think all of you have forgotten.

In her absence, Grace has taught me only love. Here among these neighbors, I have felt embarrassment and animosity all because we worry about our park-like view, and how change might come into our lives.

I am here to tell you that not all change is welcome certainly, but if you are open to the mystery of change, you might find yourself in awe and wonder of it.

Every day of my life, I will miss my daughter Grace, but every day of my life, I am thankful at what she has taught me: Change, even in its darkest form gives way to light.

We are talking about the transformation of thousands of lives over the course of decades. And I challenge the school board not to let a few disgruntled folks stand in the way of what is best for our kids.

The facts, as we know them speak loud and clear: The west location is indeed the best and the safest choice. Nothing less will do.

No comments: