Sunday, July 31, 2011

Paradise Lost

I never dreamed that 4 years ago, when we were fighting to keep Lily alive and healthy- that today I would be fighting to keep her in school. Part of me says keep her home, put her in the K12 internet academy program and just have fun with her because if we have learned anything in this journey:life is too short and too fraught with sickness to take it for granted. But Lily loves people and school. She cried when I told her she might have to start school later than her brother and sisters. Not because they might get to go, and she might not- but because she was supposed to see Mrs. Saba at recess and say hi to her and learn all kinds of new things in her new class. She has been practicing addition all summer because she heard they were going to be learning that in the 1st grade.

The Economy is Failing. The School systems are failing. Our overall Health as a country, failing. Yet one of the reasons we choose to stay in this great country is for the freedoms. We are guaranteed a free public education. We are guaranteed in theory, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. When you face cancer- you learn that life is not in fact Guaranteed. All health institutions are not created equal.  You are at Liberty to choose which institution you go to, especially if you raise your personal debt ceiling as far as creditors will allow you. Then you will owe creditors everything for the rest of your life. But you get a parent with a child whose life is threatened and you have an individual who will do anything so their child may pursue a lifetime of happiness.

The school system in Hawaii is inferior. I can not precisely tell you inferior to what. My children have attended school in this system for a collective 7 years. With 2 exceptions, they have had very good teachers. 2/7- less than 30% is not bad odds. All 3 of the kids teachers last year were not just good, they were great. Lily's teacher helped us address her quirks and gave her responsibilities in the class that suited her maturity level. Kiera's teacher took her from being below profiency in most subject areas- to being at or above all but one section!  Phillip's teacher gave them a well rounded curriculum, over and above what the standards required and gave them the skills and confidence to face a new challenge , middle school. She kept in constant contact with parents, which is truly appreciated because most 6th graders are seeking independence and report their days as "fine".  I tried to convince myself that poor administrators were not as important of an issue- what really matters is the teachers. I found out this past week how wrong I was.

This past week I got a lesson in politics and the legal aspects surrounding the education system. Everyone is afraid of liability. Laws are in place to protect all those under the department of education employ- Hawaii has Good Samaritan laws that protect anyone from litigation if they are trying to help save someone's life. Last year, school health aides became Department of Education(DOE) employees and not Department of Health(DOH or public health) . Homer Simpson lives permanently perched in the forefront of my consciousness, oh the irony.   There was a very good reason that school health rooms were under the DOH- that is where sick kids go. DOH has nurses who have licenses to train aides and oversee their facilities. In an effort to save money, the DOE took over this position, because health aids do not have licenses- they could be paid less if their delegated responsibilities were less. So in order to do that, not only did the position have to change, the INTERPRETATION of legislation had to change. We call this policy. So the DOE changed POLICY last May that does not allow health aides to make any assessments, give any medications, store any medications or perform any life saving functions- EXCEPT 3.  Health aides are allowed to give an asthmatic their inhaler and call their parents. Health aides can give a diabetic child a Glucagon shot and call 911. Health aides can give a child with an allergic reaction, the epi pen and call 911.

I talked to the DOE, I talked to DOH. DOE says public health nursing says they cannot allow health aides to do any assessment. But wait- they can assess on the 3 aforementioned conditions? DOH says that DOE makes the policy, they just recommend what is safest for the children and medically sound and their policy does not allow assessment. But you just said the aides COULD assess in 3 situtations?  DOE wants to save money. DOH wants their nurses paid and their control was just taking out of the health room. I'm pretty sure I just dealt with this situation. Yes, yes I did. Bella wanted to use Lily's DS. Lily did not want Bella to use it because she doesn't know how and she will break it. Bella swears she knows how and won't break it that Lily just won't let her use it. SO if Lily lets her use it and Bella breaks it- she's out a DS- if Bella uses it and breaks it- it's chalked up to she didn't know better so she's not responsible. So I stepped in and made sure Bella knew she was responsible for her actions and her actions alone and if she broke it, she was responsible.  Lily was under no obligation to share, but it was the right thing to do. Sometimes the right thing to do is risky. Far too many people choose feigned security- because if Lily doesn't share- she sets up a precedent of not sharing. The next time Lily wants to borrow something of Bella's guess what will happen? And it won't be about this item- it will be about the DS. So I say 1) always do the right thing. 2) Look at every situation in the relevant context.

I don't care about the politics of whose job is whose and how the DOE and DOH departments dys-function. I am very sorry that someone did the right thing and got sued. I am even more sorry that our "justice" system allows such careless litigation to proceed. Americans are known internationally for being litigiously careless and overzealous all at the same time. We are the butts of many jokes. I got fat- sue McDonald's, I am unhappy, sue my employer, I was lazy -sue for discrimination, I had an idea- sue the person who worked to realize it, she took my boyfriend- sue her for looking like me. It has to stop. People are responsible for their actions. Legislation cannot absolve anyone from that responsibilty, yet we continue to interpret it as such. Unfortunately Legislators and policymakers set the precedent in all the wrong ways. Until common sense starts prevailing, we are lost. Until the people of this great country stop accepting injustice as part of the policy and assuming it can't be changed- it will not change. I would love to spend my time pursuing personal happiness, but I am going to pursue change. The future starts with our children and the children of this country are being set up to fail by the laws and the policymakers who refuse to be held accountable. Write your Legislators. Write your Board of Education. Let the Governor know. Next time you pay a tax- think of all the people who use that money to provide a disservice to you and hold them accountable. When someone does the right thing, excels at their job and accepts responsibility- let's give them the praise and accolade they deserve. You will find there are so many out there doing the right thing and fighting too. There can be change. It can always get better if we make it so.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)