Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Speak in Cleveland. Car Gets Broken Into.

It's not too often that irony truly enters our lives. Tonight was one of those nights for me.

I was speaking about school funding to a group of folks at a church on Cleveland's east side this evening. After a great night of talking and sharing ideas with one another about how to improve education for folks who have little hope in their lives, I walked out into the parking lot and noticed my car's dome light was on.

I could have hit myself in the head for leaving a door ajar for two hours, I thought. Now I'd need a jump. Then I came around to the driver's side window.

It had been smashed three times, my door opened and my GPS stolen.

I could have been angry, I suppose, though I felt more stupid than anything else. How many stories have I heard about people's cars being broken into for GPS devices?

But then my thoughts turned to the (likely) kid or kids who did this. They weren't born wanting to break into my car in a church parking lot so they could steal a $100 TomTom. Something drove them to it. Maybe it was drugs. Maybe it was an initiation. Maybe it was a desire to have a GPS.

Whatever it was, it was desperation.

There is too much desperation in Cleveland and communities around my state and in my country. Desperate acts from desperate people. This is beyond politics. No tax cut, no program can wipe out this kind of desperation.

The only things that stand a chance are a parent's love and an education.

That's it, my friends.

This is why I fight for states like Ohio to properly fund public education. This is why I rail against the who want to destroy what Alexis de Tocqueville called the "originality of American civilization" -- Public Education.

Because the only hope the kids who broke into my car tonight have lies in Jefferson's dream for Ohio and the rest of America -- the idea that all of us, regardless of where we live, have access to a great public education.

We failed our kids tonight. I failed our children tonight. For when children choose to break into cars parked in church parking lots, that's my problem. It's your problem. It's our problem. We failed these kids.

This is why we must fight, fight, fight, fight to get the funding and services kids like those who broke into my car tonight need. For then, perhaps, their desperation can turn to hope.

And that, my friends, is our greatest gift.

Not the TomTom.