In The Lion in Winter, the king and queen contest the succession to the throne of England. (I had to give a mention to the Tehachapi Community Theatre play that will still have a few shows when you read this.) And they bounce between a shortsighted “who's ahead now” and long term historical thinking. And we too, often think in the short term. Yet when we reach a point when our problems loom large, we wonder how we could have reached this point.
And the answer is always, “Step by step”. That is, by shortsighted steps.
Right now the Tehachapi Schools are facing pretty dire financial difficulties. Teachers may be laid off and departments cut. And we can't really blame the schools, the budget is determined by outside forces. And we contribute to those outside forces.
Most of the time, most of us will choose not to inflict ourselves with another tax. And so it is hard for the government to pay for the things it is committed to provide us. And sadly one of the most important things for the government to do, educate the young, faces a lack of funds. It is too seldom our highest priority.
Since I'm fairly well connected to our theatrical community, I know that TCT is making plans in case that the High School drama department is cut. Creating more opportunities for interested students to experience performing or helping out with live theater. This might be done by adding shows or picking shows with more parts.
Will that help. Of course, but TCT will be limited in how much they can do, and some students that would have liked or even needed to experience doing live theater, will undoubtedly miss out on opportunities if the drama department is cut.
And Tehachapi's art and music communities will, without a doubt, do their best to so more of the students in town will have opportunities ast the ones at the schools are phased out. Open mics, Tehachapi POPS, and the local galleries may find more ways to give the students additional venues for the arts they don't get to learn about and try in the schools.
But these groups will also be limited in how much they can do. So many people in this town are doing a lot already and finding time to do more, even for the important cause of the students here in town, can and will be difficult. We have to face the fact that the schools do a lot of things. And when some of those things are taken away, we'll be left with holes in our community. And holes in our future.
So we have to face the fact, that step by step, we've brought ourselves to the point where our schools may end up wounded. Wounded by a thousand tiny cuts caused by not making the education of the young people of Tehachapi the priority it needs to be.
So how can we pull back from this precipice? Well, we can do it step by step too. And we can each try to find a way to take the first one.