October 16, 2004

I Smell a Bush. I Smell a Cheney.

While George Bush rants about the Almighty's hopes for freedom around the world, you all can play the home game by following the oil money.

It's not a front-page story. They hardly ever are.

I stopped by Jenna's former school yesterday to pick up yet another copy of the microbiologist's report on the findings of the mold testing. I've added it to my copy of the summary report, and the interim report. All reports confirm dangerous levels of (name your type of) mold in the school. Although remediation work has been completed to the board's satisfaction, upon my visit yesterday I was stunned to see how little had been done considering the rampant mold infestation and damage throughout the school.

A ceiling tile here, a piece of carpet there, a portion of wall here, all topped with some fresh paint. Mostly, everything looked and smelled the same--two days before the kids were scheduled to arrive back at the school.

I explained to the Principal and to some mothers why were pulling Jenna out--that her doctors have advised us not to let her back into that building. That one of the more potent molds found, Stachybotrys , is difficult to effectively remediate. And yet these same mothers are oblivious as to why they should be concerned. Or why I'm concerned.

It's not the oblivion that bothers me--it's the blind obedience. It's the Bush era mentality. Be a good little American soldier, do your duty, and ask no questions.

Two days ago, a note was sent home asking parents to come by this weekend and help clean up the debris scattered around the school from the remediation work. The note said the school could save $2,000 by having the parents do this work. Understand, the testing results post-mediation have not come back yet. Essentially, parents have been asked to come into the building before it's certified by the microbiologist and 1) sand walls, 2) help tear up the remaining water/mold soaked carpet and 3) haul away shingles and molding and other assorted contaminated items so that the school can save a couple of thou.

The building is not even OSHA-certified for the staff who works there.

The building still smells acrid--I had to use my inhaler when I got home.

But there they were. I saw four mothers with sanding blocks and an electric sander one of them brought from home sanding walls in the hallway. No gloves, no masks, nothing. And they were complaining about the parents who weren't there helping.

Now that we know the seriousness of the issues with this decades-old leaky building, I wonder--why haven't the sanding mothers asked the questions of their children's doctors that I have? Why haven't they dared to question the administration? Why aren't they furious with the landlord? Why do they look at anyone who decides not to jump in stride with the "You're either for us or again' us" attitude as the "problem"?

This is a privatized public school. This school is ultimately run by a corporation. This school started the year $250,000 in debt before the building problems surfaced. Promises were made that have been broken.

And yet, to question why these things have happened -- in this day of bushian black-and-white thinking -- makes me an anomaly, a trouble maker, a non-contributor. Ultimately, I'm a terrorist.

Yet WE were the ones dealing with the stress and accusations about Jenna's health the last two years--why she was missing so many days from sinus infection and strep. The teacher and administration could tease and belittle. But when it turned out to be a situation affected at least in part--possibly in its entirety--by their laziness and inaptitude, WELL I'm just supposed to suck it up -- offer it up for the team. After all, there's nothing that can undo the situation now. Might as well look at the positive and move on.

And what about the incidence of cancer and other health problems among the staff? What about those? What side are you going to err on--chalking it up to bad genes, or wondering if mycotoxin exposure over time in large amounts might have/could have? Don't you want to KNOW? Aren't any of you fucking OUTRAGED?

No they don't. They want it simple. The draft doesn't need to be reinstated. We've already been drafted. All of us. And if you don't step in line, your dodging.

Put your suspicions away. Stuff your brain in your pocket. Really, you don't want to have to think at all.

Well, when it comes to my kid, I am not erring on the side of mind-numbing, blind obedience to any institution--especially a corporation in public education's clothing.

Once we lose our critical thinking ability -- our drive to question, to wonder, to know -- we lose everything.

You want black and white thinking? I'm choosing black.

You want for us or against us? I'm choosing against.

March on lambs of Bush.

But march without me.