School is virtually finished for another year.
You’ve probably seen those shiny, happy people, grinning from ear to ear, hugging each other while crying tears of joy, or maybe even turning cartwheels through the parking lot.
I’m sure the kids are happy, too.
But the teachers are the cartwheel turners.
I’ve always had a fondness for teachers. Mama taught for 16 years. Two of my uncles and an an aunt had long teaching careers as well.
Several of my friends I see on a regular basis also are teachers.
Every single one of them has that look in their eye right about now.
Ecstasy — as in .. rescued from a dark well after 16 days .. ecstasy.
I’m sure you know at least a couple of teachers. And we all know teachers love their students.
They just don’t like them very much sometimes.
I hear war stories all the time.
They talk about the foul language some kids use unabashed in front of teachers, sometimes directly toward them.
They talk about the hand gestures. From what I understand, we have more than just one now.
I’m not going to make this one of those “back in my day” curmudgeon rants, but back in my day a student would have regained consciousness about a week from Tuesday — if ever — if he or she had done one percent of the things I hear about some students doing today.
And from what I understand, parent involvement has dropped off as well in the past few years.
A teacher I know has not had a room mother in three years.
I know we’re all busy; we all work. But you cannot tell me that in a class of 20 or so kids, there isn’t one mom or dad, grandparent or neighbor who couldn’t bring in some dadgum cupcakes on Valentine’s Day.
Just yesterday, I heard a cashier at a store boasting about telling the principal “where he could stick his school” because of something that rubbed him the wrong way regarding one of his children.
I wish he would’ve said that to my principal.
It would’ve been on the news. The national news. The lead story.
We don’t do our part as citizens, either.
Teachers spend their own money on school supplies, which is ridiculous. They have to scramble en masse to the dollar store when colored pencils go on sale or when hand sanitizer is buy one get one free somewhere.
Politicians get elected on the whole “no new taxes” thing. But our future suffers when money is the only consideration when it comes to things like education.
A recent Pew Research Center places the US in 38th place out of 71 countries for math scores and 24th place for science scores.
Less than 20 years ago, we were sixth.
According to a US News and World Report story, we spent three percent less on education from 2010 to 2014, while our student population increased by a point.
Meanwhile, Britain and Portugal increased educational spending by more than 25 percent. The Turkish government increased educational spending by more than 75 percent.
How long are we going to be the preeminent world power at this rate?
Are we even now?
I guess that depends on who you ask.
And that may be the biggest part of the problem.
(Barry Currin is founder and President of White Oak Advertising and Public Relations, based in Cleveland, Tennessee. “Stories of a World Gone Mad” is published weekly. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)