What a week this has been. It seems as if long buried secrets are starting to resurface, all the dirt and scandal and the ugly truths after years of government recommendations that were never implemented. Too many times, it seems inquiries over truly horrible things in our communities have been quietly filed away, not spoken of again. Someone once told me that committee members are not allowed to look too far into an issue, as the outcome of the report is pre-determined. Despite the financial cost to you and me—as these inquiries we pay for cost money, a lot of money—how many of us believe that after the committee issues its findings, the expected changes will be followed through on and actually implemented?
Many years ago, I was living on one of the Gulf Islands. A wonderful small community of locals lived there year-round—and when I say small, I mean small. Everyone knew each other. It was safe, the one place my autistic son could learn independence. But the school there was known as a throwaway. In other words, the teachers offered no meaningful education other than ticking boxes. The community relied on weekly summer vacation rentals, as the people who owned most of the properties basically parked their money in real estate and charged ridiculous amounts for rent. They had somehow convinced those in power that this was what the community needed, which meant our teachers ended up being transient despite the fact that they needed those jobs, as they could get only short-term rentals for the winter.
Those types of communities, and there are far too many of them, do not have long-term housing. And that does not result in a successful, stable community with a school that actually provides quality education. These communities can provide only a revolving door of teaching staff. Let’s be clear: Good teachers are not attracted to places like these. However, a number of residents were retired, with the kind of political and professional clout that could make something change for the better. For a few years in our small community, the parents who lived there full time banded together to shine a spotlight on the issue, to have quality education for their kids, forming committees to make something great for the community.
But as this was underway, a community member who’d been in politics for years said, “Don’t you understand this isn’t how it works? Committee reports and plans and ideas like this aren’t actually implemented. There’s a cabinet where you file it away after the report is done. Yes, there is a problem, but you don’t fix it.” If you’re thinking Hmm…, you can bet I was too.
As happened every year, one of the classes had a new teacher, a transient. She was teaching grades one to three, and many of these kids couldn’t read. Midway through the year, parents questioned this new teacher, asking, “What are you actually teaching?” Her response was to have her students do up reports, and not just any reports but very detailed reports that included outlines, research, facts, characteristics… There was a point where I had to look up the definitions of some of the requirements of the completed report this teacher had requested. It was at a level that would be expected in high school, as if she’d pulled something from a high school curriculum and handed it out.
There we were, us parents, having to step in and do the project because it was way over our kids’ heads. Again, many could barely read, let alone write. There was a point where I said, after days of sitting there, doing this for my kid, “Nope, nope, nope!” Did I turn in my homework? Hell no, and I said so to the teacher. It had basically been all the parents doing the work, because these very young children were suddenly being expected to research at a high school level. It was ludicrous.
Then there was my autistic son in the other class, because there were only two classes. Instead of following the program outline I had paid for, even though my consultant had come in and trained her, my son’s education assistant took it upon herself to do all his schoolwork for him. I contacted the head of the special education department and demanded she come out, and I showed her all the workbooks and all the blank pages. I made her stand there as I pulled out everything from the classroom to show her all the work that had been done by the EA. I sensed that she didn’t believe me, this department head who didn’t live or work on the Gulf Islands. What did she do? She simply walked away, saying it was a fight she wasn’t willing to take on.
We didn’t stay on that island, of course, but that was a lesson to me. I saw the bigger picture of how voices aren’t heard at the community level, and it unfortunately takes a public outcry for accountability to be had, for changes to actually happen. When I hear of reports and inquires and recommendations, my question is how often all of them are filed away because the spotlight on the situation is now gone, with the media having moved on to something else, a new story.
Maybe one good thing has come out of this pandemic that shut down the world: The masses are now making demands after a lifetime of systematic abuse. We’re seeing the average person standing up for his or her rights. We’re seeing videos posted over social media about abuse, about crimes, about threats, because it’s been the only way to expose people who have the law on their side or to get the police to investigate an issue for someone who, to them, doesn’t matter.
I bet everyone would like to return to a calm and somewhat sane normal. But I remember, many years back, a man telling me that systematic racism didn’t exist anymore. My response was “What universe do you live in? Of course it does, but you just can’t see it.” Did that solve anything? Not at the time. But now I really am hopeful that we are seeing a tide of change for the better, a better future for my kids, all because the average person out there really does care. It seems more and more people are starting to come forward and demand truth and reconciliation, being willing to stand behind those who’ve been hurt and taken advantage of for too long and say, “What can I do to help?”
“…packed with lots of emotional issues and social issues. Ms. Eckhart is a master at weaving the issues together in ways that make you care and wonder what you could be doing to help in real life. A breathtaking series!” ★★★★★ KEC200, Amazon Reviewer
NY Times & USA Today bestselling author Lorhainne Eckhart brings you a new crossover series! The social worker and the cop, an unlikely couple drawn together on a small, secluded Pacific Northwest island where nothing is as it seems. Protecting the innocent comes at a cost, and what seems to be a sleepy, quiet town is anything but. Includes Nothing as it Seems, Hiding in Plain Sight and The Cold Case
Nothing As It Seems: Protecting the innocent comes at a cost, and what seems to be a sleepy, quiet town is anything but.
Hiding in Plain Sight: A long-buried secret that was never meant to be uncovered could suddenly put a target on both Detective Mark Friessen and Billy Jo McCabe.
The Cold Case: What happens when you stumble across a case that should never have been closed?
Detective Mark Friessen uncovers a disturbing mystery: A little girl was taken, but when evidence disappeared, the case was closed.More info →
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