For my annual year-end contribution, I’ve separated my hopes into five categories, moving from more-familiar surroundings to the world at large.
I hope the Glendale Unified School District’s replacement of 60 to 70 veteran teachers (myself included) coaxed into early retirement next June will help save about 150 younger teachers from being discharged the next year. That is the district’s plan, and I believe it is a good one. Perhaps our schools will also be able to cap class size at 40 instead of edging up toward 50, as other districts seem to be doing to the great detriment of what and how our children learn.
I hope also that if class offerings were limited to save money, the process begins with technology classes and not with the arts, which are usually the first to go when educational budgets get slashed. Far better to lose some of that “cutting edge” in computer training than to sacrifice the heart and soul of our curricula.
I hope that Glendale puts more and more cameras at more and more intersections citywide and deploys more officers with radar guns to slow down/nab more of the thoughtless, heedless and reckless drivers (mostly young men who confuse speed with virility) who are beginning to define our fair city.
When they are caught, it is my further hope that our magistrates bring down the hammer with greater weight to reflect the danger we face while these idiots share our roads. Ditto for stricter enforcement of smoking ordinances and reprimanding the people who can’t seem to grasp that their habit doesn’t just bother others, but harms them as well.
I hope that our state will, in the years ahead, find its way back to fiscal solvency. Having worked 35 years for the government, I have seen the massive waste generated by an educational bureaucracy that grows fatter each year. It is, I suppose, the nature of all government bureaucracies; but like a human body that has grown obese, California needs to diet by hacking away at the fat that begins in Sacramento and spreads throughout the state. Perhaps in future elections we can rid ourselves of the fantasy that electing a muscle-bound governor will somehow lift us from our doldrums.
I hope that the health-care bill now pending in Congress is the beginning of a healing for a system that is presently gravely ill. From my recent extended illness, I’ve seen a few symptoms of that affliction: antibiotics at $45 per pill — not for breakthrough medication mind you, but equivalent medication to existing antibiotics that are given a new name and then marked up 1,000%; a $40,000 bill submitted to my insurance company for a five-day stay at the hospital; medical offices asking first before making an appointment for me what kind of insurance I have (suggesting that I might not be accepted if it’s not the right kind).
I’ve asked myself how health care has gone from a once affordable service to one that now threatens to bankrupt our nation. The answers are complex and years in the making, but one question keeps coming back to me: Is it government involvement that has so corrupted our system, or is it the private sector that has inserted middle managers who have become malignant growths on our nation’s health care? I understand the aversion to over-regulation by the government, but does anyone really expect pharmaceutical and insurance companies to self-correct given their enormous political and economic clout in this country?
My last hope brings me back to school, but is really expressed for the whole world. I hope that one day all schools in every corner of this fractured and divided planet will teach all of its children about all the religions of the world that, when placed side by side, can create a mosaic of tolerance and understanding. Most of you reading that will likely be thinking, “dream on,” and my reply would be, “I will.”
Personally, this year ended with a real thud, but in the midst of a sickness that almost got the better of me, there was the love and friendship of family and friends that surrounded and sustained me. Here’s to better years ahead, and for all an unwavering belief that hope, as the old saying goes, springs eternal.
Get in touch DAN KIMBER is a teacher in the Glendale Unified School District, where he has taught for more than 30 years. He may be reached at DKimb8@ sbcglobal.net.