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A Shout Out for Great Public Schools

Friday, December 6, 2013

There is what we hear in the media about our public schools, and then there is what is actually happening in our public schools.

As Chairman of our Mira Mesa Community Planning Group and Treasurer of our Mira Mesa Town Council I am tapped in to what is happening in the community.  Right across the street from the school near our home a large complex of apartments is being built.  It will add to the student population at the school, so as the plans for the complex were being developed, we invited the developer to meet with the former (since retired) principal of the school to discuss how the developer could assist with streamlining traffic in and out in the morning and afternoon.

Much was accomplished in those discussions a few years back.  But one issue - paving over decomposed granite on one of the lots - was left undone.  The PTA president revisited that issue with the new principal and asked me about previous discussions.  I told her I would see what I could find out.

Now at this point I have to add a disclaimer.  Our family is Evangelical Christian and we value having our faith at the center of our kids' education.  So we send them to private school.  Not, mind you, because we do not like our local public schools.  If anything, I think we have the finest elementary and middle schools and high school (Mira Mesa High) in the San Diego Unified School District.

And I have had the pleasure of meeting the family of the owner of the apartment complex across the street from our local elementary.  He, like us, values having his Jewish traditions at the heart of his kids' education.  So his son's high school sports teams (basketball and football) plays our boys' varsity team. We get to talk family and the like together every once in a while as the kids square off against each other.

Having heard about the local elementary school's issues with the dust from the decomposed granite lot causing asthma problems for some of the kids, he asked me about it one night along the sidelines of a football game.  He encouraged me to set up a meeting between his people, the PTA and the principal.

I just got out of that meeting.

We have a school in Hage Elementary here in Mira Mesa that is led by a "how we can" principal.  "Dr. T," as he is known, directs traffic himself in the mornings and afternoons, so he experiences the dust first hand.  He is also one of those people who chooses to look for "how we can" instead of "why we can't."  The apartment complex, Garden Communities and owner Stuart Posnock, sent their fine people.  And if the school can get the paperwork in place in the expected time frame, we should have a paved lot over Spring Break 2014 supported by Stuart and Garden Communities.

Now for the shameless plug.  Sitting at that table in Dr. T's office watching this come together is exactly what I mean in my book "Community Conservatives and the Future: The Secret to Winning the Hearts and Minds of the Next Conservative Generation" when I write about ownership, responsibility, community and dignity (Chapter 3).  Ownership is that sense we are putting down roots in our community; it is what gets me to the evening meetings of the Town Council and Planning Group.  Responsibility follows ownership; you see an opportunity to do good and you seize it.  Because you have a sense of responsibility born of a sense of ownership, when something is broken, fixing it - or just taking the opportunity to do good - is not someone else's job; its yours.  And once you purpose to seize the opportunities to do good that come your way, you run into others who are like minded; you discover your community.

And then you sit down in the principal's office with others in your community and get some good work done.  That is what I call dignity.

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