This morning I arrived early for the second day of the Northwest Weekend  so that I could help set up for the sports day, and the sports events were held at a local high school in the Vancouver area. One of the striking aspects of my observations of the grounds of the school was the large number of broken things at the school, from broken snack and soda machines to broken equipment. We certainly made do, and had a very enjoyable time. but I was struck at the fact that the high school students must recognize all of the broken things around them . Teens being teens, I imagine that they would see the broken items around them and assume that the adults in their world, and in schools, did not care about them at all.
At least, that is how I saw it when I was a teenager myself. While admittedly, it has been some time since I was in high school, I remember the way that I took the general failure of my high school deeply personally. It was not meant personally, but for me I was deeply struck as a teenager with the unfairness of school administers who were themselves involved in corruption (involving the tampering of academic records for athletes) giving strict discipline and eroding the freedoms of students who were far more trustworthy and ethical than they were. This struck a very raw nerve, and it still does, but at least I realize now that it was not personal in the least, and that it was not limited to those around me, not at all.
In fact, I had an intriguing conversation with a gentleman who arrived at the very beginning of our sports day, before most of the people showed up, about why this was the case. The funding of schools appears to be a major issue. The construction of schools is generally paid for by bonds (at least it is here in the Pacific Northwest), and the general population appears to desire to show that they care about the education of young people, so it is not an overwhelming difficulty to pass a bond to build a school. However, the maintenance budget of schools is a general budget item, subject to all of the pressures of insolvent states and counties to reduce their budgets. So, even though the ordinary taxpayer desires to show that they care about the students, the pressures of budgeting make it impossible for governments to show the same degree of care about the children whose education they claim responsibility for.
There is a lot more that could be said about that conundrum, but let us ponder what the fiscal realities mean as far as education is concerned. Schools can be built, but with no money to repair anything, the strategy appears to be to build and buy a lot of schools and a lot of equipment and then to pray it doesn’t break. This does not appear to be a very wise strategy, but in light of the logistical realities that school administrators have to deal with, this is not necessarily a surprising sort of strategy to take. We all do the best we can and the best we know how to do in the circumstances we are given. How to change those circumstances so that we can do better is a task that many of us spend our whole lives struggling with.
 See my previous posts on the subject:
 It should go without saying that broken things are a major interest of mine: