This is what happened here in the Kansas City area on Tuesday:
In a city whose population is just over 2,000,000, reliable estimates say that 800,000 people were in downtown K.C., MO for the Royals World Series parade and rally. I was in the distinct minority in the circle of people I know, in that my family and I did not attend. Had no earthly interest in attending. As much as we enjoyed watching the team win, this scene is an introvert’s worst nightmare.
I was told – and it’s obvious from photos like this one taken by a friend – that it took literally half an hour to move a few feet. Most people were unable to see the festivities at all.
The very idea of being in a crowd like this is horrifying to me. The good news is that even in this endless blue sea of humanity, only three minor arrests were made all day long. By all accounts it was a positive, friendly, joyous crowd.
So there’s that.
But then there’s this:
Most major school districts closed for the day. I have a lot of school connections, so I know that in our suburban area, the driving issue behind that decision was that teachers were calling in for personal days at a rate that made it impossible to cover classes with substitutes (who, of course, were also heading downtown).
An interesting thing about our suburban schools is that they’re staffed, to a huge extent, by very affluent members of the community. People who could afford to attend many of the playoff and even World Series games. People who can afford to take a day off, to have their own children out of school without a worry for how they’ll manage child care.
Increasingly, though, the children these affluent teachers and administrators serve are in a VERY different situation. Poverty in the suburbs is increasing at a much higher rate than in the inner cities. The number of kids in our suburb receiving free or reduced lunches has doubled over the last seven years.
I saw several Facebook posts from teacher friends of mine, stating how thrilled they were that their kids (and they) had no school so they could be downtown making “amazing memories.” How nice for them. Not so nice for a whole lot of people they serve.
So the decision to close schools in the ‘burbs was bad enough. I can’t even begin to imagine what the large, inner city districts were thinking. Schools where there are so many kids on free or reduced lunch that they’ve given up on requiring applications – they just routinely provide meals to 100% of their enrollment. Schools where the parents who are able to find and keep jobs are paid an hourly wage, and can’t possibly afford to take the day off to watch their kids or to go downtown to “make amazing memories.”
Imagine for a moment the number of hungry, unsupervised children in our city on Tuesday. It boggles the mind. All in the name of a frenzy to support a sports machine owned and run by extremely wealthy people who will only become more wealthy as a result of all the excitement.
So yeah, maybe I’m a party pooper.
It’s not a popular stance to take around here this week.
But I’ll wear that badge.