"Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"
This skewed bit of historical recollection rang in my head when our principal sat us down to give us the scoop: Our school continues to be on the list for closure. Nothing has changed. Not yet, anyway. She figured it was the best course of action to bring the staff together to look at the timeline as it currently stands.
The one that ends with us closing up shop in May.
As is her way, she included a number of spots over the next seven months for reflection and celebration. It was her calm assurance that no one would get out of here without appreciation. The underlying terror of being forced out into the cold, cruel world without all of our familiar faces was mitigated a tiny bit by the matter of fact way that things were laid out. When would the "Talent Division," formerly know as "human resources," drop by to give us a window on the world of opportunity that waits for us outside the walls of Horace Mann. When would buildings and grounds bring by the moving boxes. When the roll is called up yonder.
I paused for a moment on that bit about moving. I recalled the first year I was a teacher. My first year at Horace Mann. I remember being told by my principal at the time along with the rest of our fresh-faced staff that we should be prepared for moving boxes to be delivered to us in anticipation of relocating to portable classrooms. We weren't leaving the site. We were making room for the "modernization" that was going to take place while we huddled in temporary shelter as the work was being done.
We waited. No boxes were delivered. Four years passed. Suddenly we were on the schedule that was essentially arbitrary until the moment that buildings and grounds were ready to move. Then we all moved out. For a year and a half while they painted the place and put the wires and cables inside the walls and finished off with an elevator and an atrium with plenty of windows to let the light in.
Those windows that would be regularly replaced when frustrated students would take out their youthful angst on all that glass. It became part of our background as we moved forward, and the year-round school became a regular school and the faces came and left and the steady presence was yours truly as we all tried to hold things together.
Until the call came from on high that we should close our doors due to declining enrollment. Horace Mann along with ten other schools were slated to be removed from the roster as a cost-cutting measure. A crisis! Protests! Marches! Disruption at the School Board meetings! But the district in their glacial way moved forward with their plans.
And now we wait for the sliver of a chance that the coming election brings us a revamped school board, one that will take us to a place where we won't have to use those boxes. A place where neighborhood schools are valued and supported, and not viewed with bottom-line concerns.
I could beg for anyone in the reach of this epistle to vote for an Oakland School Board that will bring a vision of public education that works for the public. But I know that it's late in the game. I guess what I'm saying is: Don't let the Germans bomb Pearl Harbor. Again.