As another long, hot summer draws to a close the sounds of school bells ringing and school buses bussing remind us that the nation’s public, private and charter schools are back in business and I do mean business. No one is more excited for the start of a new school year than Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and McGraw-Hill. No, this is not an upscale attorney practice, it’s the trifecta of textbook publishing companies that have cashed in on the testing bonanza that has flowed from No Child Left Behind. These for-profit companies make the textbooks, they make the supplemental materials and they make the assessments. And, wait for it, they even make the remedial materials for students who don’t pass the assessments. But I do not want to discuss the cash cow that public education has become, with a select few companies winning the equivalent of the Powerball every freaking year. What I want to take a moment now for is to focus on the positive facets of education we sometimes lose sight of as certain media voices steer our attention to those fat cat, unions and them lazy, good for nothing, teachers who are sucking the public dry.
Education has given me opportunities and, at times, it has given me access but most of all it has given me choices. Today, I have more than one way of synthesizing information or analyzing an opinion piece that tells me it’s time to go to war with X, Y, or Z country. I am able to comprehend that there are motives, elementary teachers call this cause and effect, that compel people to act in certain ways and I can consider them when evaluating a current event. Now I can tell the difference between a myth, a fable and a fantasy, such as when I hear a report that a certain X country may have weaponized cans of massive whoop ass and destruction (WCMWAD’s for you military, acronym lovers). Best of all, education has given me the seeds of faith that I can be more than I am. I can be a person who seeks liberation of thoughts from dogma and mythology and having tasted the sweet nectar of freedom, wants to offer it to my sisters and brothers from other mothers. I don’t have to settle for just being me, I can be more than me. I may not have all the right answers but at least I’m not asking the wrong person anymore. My report card should say, Jeff is making progress but still needs more time. Teachers will all want me in their class to pad their evaluations.
So as the backpacks are being packed, the new clothes are being laid out for the night and the classrooms are being made real, let’s take a moment to give thanks to all those who make education possible…the lovers, the dreamers and me. Just kidding, I meant to say Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and McGraw-Hill.