Ellen is a teacher and my dad finished his career as an educational administrator, so the education gene runs in the family, or at least those two. Even Reid has his moments about graduate school. The chance of the gene skipping me is a foregone conclusion.
I try to be supportive of Ellen in her efforts but it’s a struggle these days for teachers. A preoccupation with testing, lack of materials and a lack of parental involvement (an old story) make teaching tiresome. Even in education supportive Minnesota, there’s an assault on schools but largely for budget reasons. Yet the attack is nowhere near as overt as it is here in North Carolina. It not only stems from our woeful budget situation, but it is a philosophy of politicians that teaching kids is not the highest priority. For some reason, they don’t tie the three R’s to job creation/growth, an educated citizenry and a better society. But Ellen knows I’m in her corner and that of teachers. And kids, too.
June 13, 2011
Ellen/Reid: If you want to know how stinky hot it is down here, re-read the first paragraph of last week’s letter. Nothing has changed. It is still oppressively hot.
Reid, you had to get slammed with the same weather when you were in Tennessee for Bonaroo (sp?). Better you than me. I can’t even imagine it, plus I can’t imagine the clean up either. How you slog through days on end of camping in the muck with 80,000 other concert goers is quite a tale, and I’m sure there are tales. You’ll have to tell me about it. How many years of this has it been for you? At least three or four that I’m aware of.
Ellen, glad you’re footloose for the rest of the summer. Unwind, unwind, unwind. Although the kitchen project is going to be a joint test of patience and resolve; i.e. ‘I resolve to not let it get under my skin’. Nothing ever goes easy/smooth/on time with that kind of massive gutting an re-assembly of a kitchen. Just get up in the morning, trundle over to the coffee shop with Henry in tow (or him towing you) and get a good mocha-latte-lite roast-non-fat maci-something or other that you get. That’s the best plan. I hope you will make the jaunt to the Bridger to join us. That would be fabulous. You, too, Reid. The ticket is on me. Into the back country on July 28 and a retreat to the cushy world on July 28. I bought a new MSR stove (I will pay handsomely if either of you know where the old MSR stove is) and other gadgets for the trip. My goal is to pack as light as I can.
Ellen, at one time I had the dream that maybe one day you’d come down this way to shown ‘em how teaching ought to be done but now I’m glad you didn’t pull up stakes from Minnesota. CLT just lost the superintendent that people were very split on; he was a big “tester” and some folks thought that drove teachers to teach for scores rather than for teaching. I tend to agree with that. He got out when the getting was good. Our legislature, in its GOP wisdom and under the guise of a sour economy, has essentially gutted public education and cut out a raft of things that were simply good for kids, notably early childhood education. In these parts they just don’t value a good public education which is ironic because that is what brought the South up. Here, only the “haves” have the means of sending their kids to tony private schools where the tuition is more than most state universities. Our legislature doesn’t view education as a way to create good people, give the potential labor force good work skills, keep them off the streets, or foster job growth. None of that. I’m not sure how they look at it. They are very anti-teacher, probably in part because teachers have their state version of the NEA. Your grandfather is probably rolling in his grave at the thought of yahoos disassembling the engine of forward movement for people. It’s a travesty. You can bet your bottom dollar if it involved guns or other redneck priorities, they’d embrace it. But they don’t. It’s really the one thing that galls me about both Carolinas; they just don’t want to educate people beyond this inane desire to test kids as the one barometer of showing progress. No Child Left Behind is a misnomer because they’re all going to be left behind.
Well, I’d best sign off and get back to it. I am always available by phone (Reid) so don’t be strangers. Stay cool, relax, and get on with things.