Despite what most people assume when they meet me, I am a person of great faith and hidden optimism. There are rarely situations where I sit back and assume the worst. Be it the person that I didn't support winning an election or a vote going a way that I didn't prefer, I usually just assume that everything will work itself out. I am believer that our politicians do (for the most part) have this country's best interest at heart, and while I support my opinions with gusto... even if I lose, I assume that everything will be alright in the end. But, after a week of political movement in my home state of Indiana, I am faced with the feeling that maybe all my faith and optimism were misguided. Maybe it's not really ever going to be OK.
I don't know if politics are changing or if I am just paying attention for the first time, but I am left confused and for the first time, really nervous about where we are going. First, our town offered a referendum raising property taxes an almost negligible amount in order to fund the community school corporation after the government slashed their budget. Alternatives to the tax money is firing teachers therefore increasing class size, cutting programs decreasing exposure to our children and God knows what else. I supported the tax hike. I support our schools. I support my kids. I support my property values, which increase with the quality of the school district. And I was in the minority. A tiny minority.
Now, I am not naive. I get that the schools could manage money better, and I demand that they do so. But, money management cannot make up the difference alone. And now I sit back and I fear what is to come. I question whether or not Will is going to have art, music and PE and if Tabbi will keep her straight As if she isn't in a class with a teacher and a teacher aide that give her a lot of attention. Will she be swallowed up in a 45 kid classroom with one teacher? What's next for our education system and why oh why is that not one of the most critical concerns of our citizens, local or federal government? Our kids are free falling compared to other countries and yet we've slashed the money and turned our backs hoping that our overworked, underpaid teachers can somehow maintain their standards. How can they? 65% or more of this town just basically told them that it sucks to be them, and good luck with nothing... and yet we say, "but you still better make my kid a genius." Head's up, people... you don't get it both ways.
Then yesterday, my state's governor made national news by slashing funding yet again. This time to Planned Parenthood, an organization whose purpose is to provide health screenings, prenatal care, and birth control options to the disenfranchised. The federal government decided not to make good on their threats, so our local guy decided to step in and take care of the evil beast that is free medical screenings and education. I realize that they also do the A word, but this isn't about that. I can admit that I am not pro-A word, but I can also admit that it isn't my place to decide whether or not you are. But, I can also open my eyes and ears and see that the money Governor Mitch "Hates Women" Daniels just cut doesn't go toward those anyway. So, like them or not, they aren't a part of this conversation.
He cut the money that goes to the 16 year old girl who thinks that she may have an STD and is too afraid to tell her parents or go to her family doctor. But, thanks to Mitch, she can just suffer and spread it. It goes to the 22 year old young woman with a drug problem, whose mother is already raising one grandchild because she knows enough to see that she can't. So the woman's one responsible act is when she goes every month to Planned Parenthood for birth control shots. Thanks to Mitch, she can just get pregnant over and over again. It goes to the 36 year old woman having horrible cramps and no health insurance, and her free pap smear just showed that it's cancer. Thanks to Mitch, it can go undetected and she can die. And, it goes to the teenage couple with the raging hormones, who know all about abstinence but are contemplating having sex, and they need to know their options when it comes to the realities of life... that right or wrong, they probably are not going to wait until they are married and therefore need to be effectively educated on disease and pregnancy prevention. But, thanks to Mitch, they are left without any education, and open to unwanted pregnancy and even worse, HIV or AIDS.
I sit here and no longer feel assured that everything is going to be OK. Our country has real problems, and my state and town are no different. It is going to take real solutions to fix it, not sticking our head in the sand and hoping that schools just somehow find a way to get funded, and underprivileged women miraculously avoid getting diseases. I feel like our heads have been in the sand long enough, and maybe.... just maybe... it's time to face some problems head on and actually find an answer. Maybe it's time to inspire a little faith in our government again. Maybe it really is time for a change...