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May 26, 2009

Reading, Riting, and Recession

-1 Yesterday, I saw two Bentleys. 

I don’t get out all that much, due to the fact that I have three small kids and the mere act of getting everyone’s shoes on ought to be some sort of a semi-professional sport.  Yet, somehow, I managed to cross paths with not just one but two of the most ostentatious automobiles in the world.  Both were within a couple of blocks of my house.

If you are reading this, chances are you live in Los Angeles, which means you are not particularly surprised that I see cars like these on a daily basis.  There are a lot of people with a crapload of money here in the Los Angeles, where houses are expensive, taxes are high, and celebrities roam the streets like native beasts. 

Then there is the other L.A.  The Boys in the Hood L.A.  Because not everyone lives in a ten-million dollar home and drives the kids to their elite prep school in an Escalade.  Being new to this city, I have not had a chance to see much out of my neighborhood, yet even here in my upper-middle-class area I am disgusted by the contrasts. 

Our local public elementary school, a charter school and one of the best in LAUSD, is suffering.  Class size will almost surely be going up next year, as teacher layoffs take their toll.  The state is bankrupt and cannot help fund education, so the schools will likely be packing even more children into classes that I, as a former teacher, consider way too crowded already. 

And yet people drive by in their Bentleys.

I wish I had the money to be one of those people who could turn away from the public schools and sigh, “Well, at least my kids are getting a good education.”  I can’t, and my family is certainly not among the hardest hit by the recession (touch wood). 

You know what, though?  No one can afford to look away.  Those kids that are shoved into substandard schools?  They are the gang leaders or the studio executives of tomorrow.  We get to choose. 

Celebrities other than Sandra Tsing Loh (bless her heart) ought to give a hoot about our school system.  While racing off to Africa to adopt twenty-eight orphans, they seem to have forgotten the kids in their own backyard.  So, I am taking this opportunity to remind them – the actors, the studio execs, the various and sundry other obscenely wealthy people in L.A. – that if they bought a Prius instead of a Bentley, they could fund a teacher’s salary for the year. 

And still have some leftover change for a couple of pairs of designer sunglasses.

This is an original post for L.A. Moms Blog.  Emily also blogs at Wheels on the Bus and Edge of the Page.

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