Three events this week reminded me of the bible story about the little boy who gave Jesus his five loaves of bread and two little fish to feed the masses (5,000) who had come to hear him. I wondered what would have happened if Jesus had taken the food and ate it all himself. It reminded me of those times when my mother had the preacher over for dinner and we kids could only eat what they left, if any. What would have happened if Jesus had left the masses to starve and fend for themselves, as it seems some institutions are doing these days?
One incident was the meeting that warned the schools here and across the country that there was not enough money to maintain the existing education system. Americans are accustomed to free education and the more students, the merrier. The theory is that since the more educated people we have, the more we can lead the world in accomplishments whether it is in science, music, technology, space exploration, health, or commerce.
Now we have spent our money on war there is not enough left to adequately educate ourselves. As a consequence, we are relinquishing our number one position as the most educated country in the world to least educated. As we lose our national will to educate all of the people we must make decisions as to who to fire and who to maintain on the payrolls. When this happens sometimes the old bugaboo of race and racism seems to poke its head out.
One call I got last week on this issue was an African American who told me that all staff people who served the function they did would be let go (fired) if they did not speak Spanish. That person lamented that they had just spent years earning their Doctorate and if they had known this would happen they would have taken Spanish rather than getting a Ph.D. The fish and loaves parable is relevant here because unlike Jesus those who are choosing who gets fired and who stays may not divide the limited resources in such an equitable way. As a note this highlights something that has long been obvious. Spanish should be a requirement in school. Whether we like it or not this country is fast becoming more and more international and more and more related to our neighbors to south of the border (Mexico). Hence, Spanish is becoming more and more important in world commerce. Guess what? Chinese is rising as the next. You can learn to speak it or possibly lose out.
Another incident is of a church and the police. I got a call from Pastor John McCall of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on North Fair Oaks near the location of the latest "gang" shooting on Sunday morning, March 7. He was not apprised that there had been a shooting near his church and, therefore, he could not warn his parishioners to be careful as they traveled to and from church. Many of his parishioners walk to church and needed to know that in this time of danger they may want to get a ride, or at least travel with a sense of caution.
Pastor McCall said that he knew that if there was a shooting at a local school there would be a lockdown while the police canvassed the neighborhood. He spoke to Pasadena's interim chief and asked why was there nothing done around his church or, for that matter, in the neighborhood? If we are a city that believes in community and neighborhood policing where was the police's duty to warn the community of a potential for danger?
Did they eat all of the fish themselves instead of sharing it?
In the same vein some churches fail to use their resources for the benefit of all of the parishioners. They don't build senior housing. They just house and feed the leader only. Some churches form corporations to develop youth centers, youth programs or even schools. Those churches don't let their leaders eat all the fish and bread and use the resources for a only select few members. In taking another look at the bible story, what do our leaders do? Are the so-called leaders of the police, the schools, and the churches eating all of the fish and bread for themselves, or are they expanding the limited resources for the benefit of all?
On the issue of schools, Pasadena Unified School District is laying off 160 teachers. Superintendent Diaz, of PUSD, did take a permanent pay cut and has turned down pay large raises in the past few years. I have one series of questions. If the schools get the money from Measure CC (the parcel tax) to keep the schools going, are they going to keep moving as they were? Will Black students still graduate at a 50% rate? Will rowdy students still be able to disrupt the class day after day so that the students that want to learn can't focus on learning? Will social promotion still be the order of business? Will bad teachers still be able to continue the pattern that allows them to keep their jobs while graduating students to the next grade before they learn the subject matter from the last grade? If the answer is yes to these questions, then what is the point?