I despise my senior college Alma mater as it made me realize some 18 years ago that schools are businesses and not a place for education priority. While I'm sure this is not news to many, it wasn't until I was faced with the potential of a late graduation that I had my "a-ha" moment. Upon realization that I might miss my graduation goal, despite having met with an academic adviser on a consistent basis, I was told that I could "fake" walking across the stage with my class in June during the annual graduation ceremony. Afterwards, I could continue with summer classes for two semesters until I truly earned my diploma, which would then be mailed to me. My school was telling me to fake my own graduation. Really? Stay for extra semesters? Yep, that's exactly what they suggested.
I didn't want to fake my graduation! Who would? It took me a while to understand why anyone would even recommend that. I realized quickly, and sadly, that It all came down to money. The longer I stayed, the more money they got. They didn't care about educating me. They cared about my money. (To clarify, I am speaking of the school itself, not individual teachers) Well, my answer to that bogus-ass idea was to petition the Dean of Students to allow for course overloading each semester to earn enough credits to graduate on time. I was pissed. And now, more than ever, I wanted out of that school as quickly as possible.
Fast forward 18 years later and I'm now attending a pre-teen, school band concert. A band concert that was held in a cafeteria despite having a lovely auditorium to perform in. It was poor sound quality, crummy seating, and little to no visibility to the performers. And why? So the "business" could sell food for fundraising. Now I'm not against fundraising, but at what cost? To the quality of your students performances? Really? I feel the organization could have created a spaghetti dinner or something of the sort for fundraising in the cafeteria, and then allowed families to enjoy the band performance afterwards in the auditorium (to avoid food messes). Am I thinking too big at this level? Is it really better to have someone walking the aisles with a box of ice cream novelties asking for sales during a school concert versus taking the time to organize either two separate events, or putting together one that was more well rounded to meet both needs?
Sadly, this event for me was a blatant reminder that schools are nothing more than mere businesses. I won't pretend to be aware of all the politics and complexities that are intermingled in running a school, and I'm not disregarding the need for fundraising. Rather, in this case, I feel the "business" should have picked their arena a bit more wisely and gave their talented students the proper showcasing they deserved. This truly was a case of great talent with poor presentation. It was tacky. Just plain tacky. As I type this, I think can I really be the only one to feel like this? Surrounding families, probably jaded by multiple events such as this, seemed fine to talk amongst themselves, buy an ice cream or two, wander around aimlessly and anxiously await their child's fast return so they could go home for the night. Am I just being too naive here? Is this the future of kids' performances? Are we just preparing them to be street artists playing music off the back end of a food truck? Food for thought. Literally.