A few weeks ago, I lost a student. Literally. I'll call him G. I don't know where he went. I know that he checked out of school, but I don't know where he is now.
I'll tell you what I do know about G. He was a scruffy 7th grader who always had hair in his eyes. He had a generally unkept air about him, but that's not unusual for 7th grade boys. There was something about this kid that I really liked. There was something in his brown eyes that was slightly sad, but hopeful. He loved my engineering class, which always gives kids brownie points in my book. He tried really hard, and always had a smile for my jokes (which are not nearly as bad as you might hear from my students.)
Flashback to several weeks ago, and G told me that he and his folks were moving. I told him that I would miss him, and asked why they would move so late in the school year. He freely admitted that they were behind on their bills and had to move. And suddenly, things started making sense. The unwashed clothes. No haircut. The sad looks.
Can you imagine telling your 13 year old that they have to leave their friends and everything they know because you are being evicted from your apartment for not paying the rent? What if he didn't have enough to eat...he was such a skinny little kid. What if they don't have a place to stay now, and are living in a car or under a bridge somewhere? This is not a faceless statistic. This is MY KID. How in the hell can something like this happen in a country where the freaking Kardashians spend $200 on a bottle of shampoo? It's not fair and it's not right and it fills me with a righteous fury that both invigorates and nauseates me at the same time.
A simple message for our elected officials, who think it's perfectly okay for this to happen, as long as we can keep giving tax cuts to oil companies--I hope you never, ever have to have someone that you care about walk out of your life into a dark, impoverished unknown. By all means, vote against raising minimum wage and cut back social services and leave public education staked out in the sun while you are at it. God forbid that every single person that earns minimum wage rolls enough pennies to afford gas to drive to the polls this November. But if there is justice in the world, and Karma smiles upon G and his family, you may be back in the private sector in 2015. Sure hope your business doesn't rely upon anyone but lobbyists and rich people. Be a darn shame if someone set up a website or something listing your voting record as a part of a review of your business practices.