formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Go, Little Activist, Go!

A couple of weeks ago, when I picked my 10-year-old up at school after her student government meeting, she was angry and close to tears. When I asked her what was wrong, she declared, "I need permission to use the word 'friggin'!" I had to contain my giggle, as she was clearly upset, and I asked, again, what was wrong. She told me that, due to proposed state budget cuts, the middle school and high school athletic programs might be eliminated. Since she was planning (and excited) to run cross country and track next year (as a 5th grader, she's not eligible yet), this was devastating to hear. I told her that if she was really upset about it, she needed to go down to the next school board meeting and let them know. Within five minutes, she decided that was exactly what she was going to do.

Over the past two weeks, we've talked quite a bit about her speech. I explained that she needed to be clear about why eliminating the sports programs would be a bad idea and that she also needed to make sure she was willing to give something back -- not just ask for 'something for nothing' (even though the programs are warranted on their own merit). She told me the other day that she and her friend Abigail had discussed the speech and come up with some good points. I told her to write it all out and then I'd look at it and we could make changes if they were necessary.

She did.

And?

I was blown away. If I hadn't sat and watched her type it all out, I would have assumed it was written by someone much older than 10. She was clear and articulate and she made her points succinctly. She even added at the end that she understood there was not enough money in the budget for everything schools need, but that she and her friends and their parents would be willing to raise funds and find volunteers to keep the programs going. There were a couple of small areas that lacked a certain diplomacy but she's 10... diplomacy isn't something a lot of adults can employ, so her lack wasn't too surprising. I made suggestions to tweak those areas and she did it. She did it well.

So, tonight was the school board meeting. We got there a little early and sat near the front. When the time came for the 8-member board (including the school Superintendent) to hear from the general public, Ryan was first up. She announced herself, her age, her school, and her topic, and then she launched into her speech. Though I knew she was nervous, no one else could tell. She was confident, clear, and full of conviction. After she finished, the next woman up (to speak about the arts program) said she didn't want to follow Ryan. Everyone laughed. One of the school board members told my baby she was "eloquent and very brave." And she was!

It turns out that the athletic programs aren't being cut (yay!). The decision had been made before Ryan spoke (although the Superintendent joked that they just made the decision after Ryan's speech), but I assured her that she had made an impression nonetheless, and that her words might have an impact down the road, when the budget issue comes up again. And regardless, it's important to be heard when you feel strongly about something, especially something so worthwhile. I told her that the school board and the community needs to know that students care and that they are willing to work within established protocols to get things done.

And?

She was as proud of herself as I was.

And?

She might be on television tonight and in the newspaper tomorrow. I sure do hope so!

23 comments:

Debbie(single;complicated) said...

I LOVED reading the whole process!! GO Ryan!! What an amazing young woman she is..and how well that will serve her in life!! Good job mommy!!!!

Marla said...

Good for you, Ryan!!

Pauline said...

You both deserve a pat on the back!

idgtm said...

:)

McGillicutty said...

Good for Ryan... and good for you!! What a fantastic team you are and I'm certain that she's learned a lesson that will stay with her for a long time to come.
I love good parents and great kids!!!
Whoop WHoopp.

Heather said...

Yay! Go Ryan!! I know you have to be so proud of her for standing her ground and facing the school board. That is awesome!!! :)

She said...

Wow! This made my day! I love that kid of yours! She's awesome! ILY2!

Amy McMean said...

oh man, that's awesome. Sounds like she's only a few weeks away from storming Washington! Go Ryan!!

~jill said...

an absolutely awesome post! makes my heart happy to know that there are young people who are finding their voices.....good job, mom!

SSP said...

That TOTALLY rocks - i love that you have raised her SO empowered that she has the courage to do things like this, and yet, still has the manners and responsibility to ask for permission to use the word "friggin'

Go Diane, and GO RYAN

Sheila said...

What a great kid! Go Ryan!
This is a direct reflection on your mothering...you should both be proud.

Jean said...

Like mother, like daughter.

*standing ovation*

Jenners said...

I'm not surprised .... look at her mom. You must be so proud.

blognut said...

I think you have a really cool kid. And I think your kid has a really cool mama.

All too often people are content to sit back and wait while someone else speaks up and/or fights their battles for them. It's refreshing to see a kid who is willing to do that for herself.

Christine Gram said...

Holy Cow!!! What an awesome story. And good for you for empowering your daughter! Yay MOM!

secret agent woman said...

Here via Debbie.

That's very impressive - good for your daughter!

C Woods said...

This was a great post from a very proud parent ---you have a super child there.

During a rough economic time in the 70's, several school districts in my area announced they had to cut the competitive sports programs or raise taxes. It was just a ploy. My area is populated with people who were more than willing to pay higher taxes rather than see high school football cut. I'm sure if the schools had announced they were cutting the math program, there wouldn't have been as big of a response. Don't get me wrong. I think sports are important. Besides helping students stay fit, they teach kids a lot that they can't learn in the classroom, such as cooperation, team spirit, working for a goal, etc. But I think there is a disproportionate emphasis on certain sports like varsity football and boys' basketball ---that relatively few students participate in.

Sam_I_am said...

I think Ryan might be one of the coolest kids I "know." But then, I think she just takes after her Mama.

Jason, as himself said...

Awesome. This reminds me a lot of my daughter, who is soon to graduate from high school and wants to be a civil rights lawyer.

Your girl is going to be a mover and a shaker!

Sometimes Sophia said...

Wow. Your Ryan is an amazing young lady (who takes after her mom, btw.) Speaking in front of the school board!! It's just great that she has the poise, motivation and speech writing skills to pull it off.

I too am in a blogging rut. Can't really say why. Maybe a yoga class would help... ;)

San Diego Momma said...

I loved reading this...
I can only imagine how proud you are...
I want my daughters to be as confident, clear, and full of conviction at 10 as yours is...

Also...was she on TV??????

Rachel Cotterill said...

This brought a tear to my eye... I'm 27 and would have a hard time doing that! Go Ryan! :D

namaste said...

SOOOO impressed!