Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Are we there yet?: ‘You oughta write a column about that!’


From page A7 | February 14, 2013 |

I imagine everyone has moments of wishing for anonymity.

Kim Yarris, The Enterprise’s front office manager, has fantasized about an anonymous Twitter account that would tweet the seriously amazing things that happen at the front desk of our newspaper. There is no shortage of material related to the weird and the rude who so often need to vent at Kim and her staff.

But, Kim notes, although a tense situation might be funny after it’s diffused, do you want to make it worse by publicizing it? Not usually.

Which brings me to today’s topic … People regularly say to me, “I bet you’re going to write a column about this!” whenever something noteworthy happens, particularly relating to Davis schools. And I regularly say back, “Fat chance.”

Because although I might be comfortable with the resulting fallout of writing something controversial, I’m not willing to have my kids or husband suffer those consequences. I mean, let’s face it; what experiences do I write about publicly? My areas of expertise are kids’ activities and events, thus far through the ages of 1 to 16.

And let me be clear, I am never writing about problems with school teachers, administrators, coaches … ever. At least not while my kids live here and attend schools and play sports and musical instruments. And yes, it’s annoying because I do have a lot to say on these subjects … but not at my kids’ or husband’s expense.

However, as Frank Costanza said on “Seinfeld,” I do imagine one day having a Festivus-style “airing of grievances.”

Maybe when the Perez kids are totally done with schooling in Davis I will be able to add something constructive to the conversation. But if I were to discuss things here that I’ve heard in the stands and on the sidelines about playing time or coaching styles, I couldn’t possibly be doing any good for my own kids. The same is true for teachers who seem like they might not have any business teaching any more. Putting it in writing would be stupid and could only be detrimental to my boys.

On the other hand, I do think it’s part of my (self-imposed) responsibility to point out things that might be amiss at our schools, and on our fields, and in our special programs, because I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who have experiences that add to the story.

On the other other hand, working at The Enterprise, we get lots of parents calling about what they think is unfair coverage of youth sports … which sometimes translates to we haven’t put a certain kid’s photo in the newspaper when his teammate has been in twice. Heavy sigh. I get that we all have a healthy dose of myopia when it comes to our own children, and I don’t want to be that parent.

This is the battle in trying to write something that is both valuable to readers and not injurious to my own family.

Humor me a minute, as I explore this idea and try to build my case that I’m not just being a wimp. Let’s take a topic that is truly not related to my kids … auditioning for one of the singing groups at Davis High School. (Neither of my sons seems to be headed that way.)

I don’t actually know a thing about the audition process, but let’s say I thought the system was unfair. Maybe there was favoritism or nepotism or some other ism. How would I present this in my column without it seeming like one whiny parent complaining on behalf of my own darling child? I would be a lot like that parent who calls sports editor Chris Saur to bellyache that my kid’s soccer goal didn’t get mentioned in the paper.

However, imagine that both of my kids went through the audition process year after year. After eight rounds of auditions, I’d have gained a broader perspective, talking to more parents about their experiences and witnessing more of what the program is about. I’d be a far more effective and convincing voice on the subject of singing groups at Davis High, possibly having something valuable and unbiased to say about it then.

And just imagine after I’ve been part of the Davis school system for 16 years how qualified I’ll be to give opinions on school- and kid-related issues. And, it’s not an accident that I won’t have any kids in Davis schools then.

So, yes, it is a bit wimpy. But I do predict the airing of grievances will one day come.

— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column publishes every other week on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Reach her at tperez@davisenterprise.net. Follow her on Twitter at @enterprisetanya



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