Letter from the Editor

Monday, September 12, 2005

School's in session

Hey Dad! What's 2,798,169,322.68 times the square root of seventy billion divided by the hypotenuse of a 72.5 degree angle times Pi minus googol divided by 6y to the power of minus-19 million?

Well, dear, of course, I know the answer to that!! But if I gave you the answer, I would be depriving you of the joy of discovering it yourself and learning a new skill.

You don't know, do you, Dad?

OK, smarty, go ask your mom...

Welcome back to school. You may have noticed that the kids aren't around so much anymore. They are too young to have jobs or be drafted. Yes, they are off learning important new things.

Things like the fact that only $80 Lucky jeans are acceptable fashion for a 12-year-old. Not at my house, kids, unless Dad gets Lucky on the lottery.

Things like how to make some new disgusting noises and biological-based jokes. Things like how to hide the homework you insist you don't have any of all weekend long, until it is miraculously discovered five minutes before bedtime Sunday night. Things like a taste for new "rock" bands of glowing whiny talentless boobs with uniformly black t-shirts, pierced faces, tattooed necks, and instrumentation that sounds like garbage can lids being banged together.

Did I really say that? When did I turn into my Dad?

You will know that school has started, because the bills are starting to arrive. Football fee. Volleyball fee. Towel fee. Materials fee. Spirit wear. A pile of stuff to buy for a science project. Enough poster board to kill a small rain forest. Book orders. Software orders. Field trip fees. Tickets for every fundraiser, game or performance. Piles of fruit or candy bars you'll never eat but were raising cash for something or other. Fines for "My child did WHAT?" New school clothes or uniforms and the gym shoes that seem to be outgrown before you can get the suckers laced up. Lunch fee (along with the nasty note in which the school board threatens to remove your spleen as collateral if you fall 10 days behind.)

Tylenol fee. (Well, that one's for you, so technically it doesn't count.)

So, after an investment that matches the gross national product of some third world countries, you ask your sweet little munchkin what they did in school today.

"Nothing much."

Actually, I'm amazed at what the schools can manage to do.

The teacher is expected to be babysitter, family counselor, disciplinarian, entertainer, organizer, fitness expert, nutritionist, nurse, translator, referee, technology guru, maid, communications specialist, mindreader, miracle worker.

He or she is supposed to make school fun, computerized, multi-media, inspirational (but not too inspirational!) They are to embrace whatever the latest buzzword or program is this year, which will be replaced by some new theory the next.

And above all, they are supposed to constantly raise grades in those lovely standardized tests that everything depends on now.

So, after they do all this and still manage to cram some learning into Little Johnny's head, what happens?

Who gets blamed if Little Johnny doesn't get any support at home, never got read to, takes too many pills, goes without breakfast, gets in scrapes as he takes out frustration from home on the playground, doesn't pay attention in class, and gets a "C?"

The teacher must not be doing the job.

Okay, kid, get me a pencil and a piece of paper. As soon as you explain to me what a "hypotenuse" is, we'll take another shot at this...