First off, let me set the stage here by saying I went to a county high school system, also known as a public school.
While not a drooling idiot, I do think my education was lacking. Don’t get me wrong, it was not the failure of my teachers. It was as much my fault as anyone else. However 30 to 45 kids in a classroom, battered text books, mice in the hallways, and trailers do not always make the best system available.
By some strange luck I managed to blackmail my way in to a position with the school newspaper staff. I wrote a rather scathing article on what I considered the hidden costs of public education as change after change was implemented in the middle of the year. Agenda’s, change in backpack regulations, attire, other suddenly “required’ items that could, of course, be purchased from the school for a novel sum.
At one point it was even speculated we would pay for our graduating diploma’s (mine has long since vanished in the years of travel. If anyone in Georgia reads this, forward it to me, will ya?)
Somethings , it seems haven’t changed, and some boundaries have never been more different.
The article, which I thought clever, said that dinosaurs once had a school board of education. To make a long story short the article I wrote twenty years ago essentially said the reason that dinosaurs are extinct is because the school board bled them to death for money.
My daughter is starting Kindergarten.
We have been frugal, saving money, and had sent her to a well regarded pre-school in the area.
Like all parents, I want the best for my child, give her every advantage, those I thought I did not have for whatever reason or the other.
Thusly she has been enrolled in a private, and Catholic, school in the area.
Registration was yesterday.
I parked my SUV by a beat up dually pick up truck with “Beef: It’s whats for Dinner” stickers on the window. The fella getting out wore overalls, and, wiping his face with a faded red bandana, waved to us cordially as he took his son inside as well.
I had tried to dress nice, anticipating a stiff collar crowd. I braced myself as we went inside, and made it a point to leave my Copenhagen in my truck versus having the telltale ring in my pants pocket.
Boy howdy though. I used to think my public school was bad?
The tuition is manageable. My wife and I are far from rich, we don’t even gross 80k a year, but we have been frugal so we could afford this.
However in less than 30 minutes we wrote a multitude of checks for: uniforms, fee’s to join the PTO, and the After School program. We passed on the $2.75 per day lunch fees and got her a $6 buck lunchbox instead.
I remember when lunch was $1.25! Yesh where have the years gone?
Part of the requirement for this school is my wife and I have to donate 34 hours a year (between the two of us, not separately fortunately) in volunteer time to the school.
I volunteered for less than a handful of class functions. My wife was braver, and her job schedule more lenient than my own and she volunteered for lunch room duty once a week.
However one thing stood out in my mind during out intro to the school.
Maybe I am secretly OCD. Maybe its from my time in the Army. But in my eyes when you have a large group of people congregating for a singular purpose and disorganization is rampant, someone or something always falls to the way side.
I made a joke to my wife that “They should hire me as a Event Coordinator. Then I can be President!”
Understandably, she rolled her eyes at me.
There was no real direction as to where we should go, what needed to be done at what table, and no one to explain what we needed to have done or what we, in fact, were signing our lives away to accomplish. The young lady assigned to guide us continually became distracted by visiting other people, and abruptly disappeared on us about a 1/4 through our paperwork.
I shook my head and had vivid images of finding out some meager form was not filled out, thus preventing my daughter from engaging upon her grand journey.
I filled out papers. We signed documents. I ran down a school employee, who must have thought I had lost my mind. If I’m spending my hard earned money I expect people to cough up some service. I was polite but firm: what do we need to do?
4 hours later, loaded down with jumpers, peter pan collared shirts, skorts, polo’s and enough paperwork that challenged my military enlistment packet, we were finally done.
Oh but not completely. We still have the physical, the shots, and a handful of other loose ends to finish.
As we got ready I was struck however, by how in the past as a public school kid I was had dreams of the environments of private school as this structured, almost sanitized environment, where kids received a classical education, ate on silver plates and everything was organized and kids walked out as SAT slamming machines with genius level IQ’s whose parents drove Volvo’s and Mercedes to school to drop them off.
We stepped past the 15 year old Honda with a young mom who was pulling her own daughter of the her car seat in the back. She smiled and with a hurried “Hi!” rushed inside. My own daughter fastened her seatbelt.
I was struck by the irony as I started my truck. I had created an image of something, with no basis or rationale whatsoever for that bias and had ended up becoming the bias myself.
Its funny how things change, and some stay the same.