Dear Mequon Moms and the PTA of Mequon-Thiensville School District
In every community there is a demographic, a special interest group, who hold a particular majority of power. Due to the socioeconomic makeup of that community their voices ring out a little louder than everyone elses. It doesn’t necessarily stem from the fact that they are a majority, they simply are listened to more. In Mequon, most clearly in the school district, this group are the moms. It makes sense why; according to the 2010 United States Census 55.3% of Mequon residents are between the ages of 18 and 65, with 51.5% of those being women. The percent owning homes is 88.9% and 91.1% have lived there for over a year. There is a majority of homeowners, a majority of families, and in that a majority of mothers. And this presence is known. We have all heard stories of drastic changes in school policy all consequence of one mother’s phone call. When high school publications are censored it is usually in fear of offending the parents, not other students. We all know it, and I assure you this isn’t a comment on that, but a plea. A school’s administration makes its decisions based off a lot of factors; how much money there is, what is required by the state, what other schools are doing, and what the students want and what the students need (which can be two drastically different things). Another factor is how the change will be received by the community. Usually, not always, if enough parents bring to attention a problem it is addressed. Now, with the current state of the economy, and God knows what else, things find themselves on the chopping block.
Particularly theatre. A program not required by the state, not participated by the entire or even majority of the school, and something that can cost a lot. (No, this is not an essay of why theatre should not be in our schools, that’s just the reality.) But here’s where you come in. Yes, you, the parent. Simply put; if one mother speaking against a policy is enough to change it, how much can a mass of parents speaking in favor of it do? I can not speak for anyone, especially the administration, but it seems they would feel stronger to please a majority who appreciate something than the one person who speaks out against it. But unfortunately the people who love what the school is doing rarely get heard because they rarely speak out. And why would they need to? If things are going fine, why add constant noise to keep it that way? Why not just leave things alone? The answer is as follows; if you wish to insure that a program which has done tremendous good for myself and many others should remain here, you must speak.
If you believe that the Drama Department of Homestead High School has helped your child, your friend, yourself, let it be known. If you have seen students mold from high school kids to beautiful artists, as I have, tell someone. If you know your child has somewhere safe, where she or he will be loved and cherished and appreciated, insist that place stays standing. If you understand there is a room where individuality and creativity are fostered, help us keep those doors open. Mention to anyone who will listen how much you appreciate what is going on. Next time you come in for parent-teacher conference thank the people who make it possible. It’s very simple, the same conventions that open the administration to criticism from the community can open them to praise from the community, something that might seem refreshing.
Speak out, be avid, be passionate.
These words are usually reserved for someone who wishes to decry an institution or inspire change, but they are just as powerful for someone who wishes to protect something beautiful. Think of what words can do, now think about what those words could do if they were positive. Use the power you have, because a mountain of support always overshadows a pillar of animosity. Theatre at Homestead has produced great things; in the students, in their work, and in the lives it touches. And I honestly don’t need to convince you of that, because if you are reading this you probably already agree with me. And if you don’t, well, I believe there are ten of us to every one of you and that gives me strength. So, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and creepy uncles, be involved in your student’s life and do so by helping to protect the programs that allows your student to be as beautiful as they are. Help protect theatre in our schools by simply saying out loud what we are all thinking: “I love this.”
A concerned student