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Going back to school…..NOT!

August 20th, 2003 · No Comments

This morning I heard on the radio, in an ad for The Bon Macy’s :
Looking good makes going back to school a whole lot easier.

So let me explicitly state the cultural attitudes this commercial is communicating:
School is a place I go.
School is a difficult place to go.
School is a place I don’t want to be.
Spending money makes me feel better about life.
School is about looking good and feeling good.
School is about appearances and emotions.

Yikes – I object to all these implications! – and I was also upset this morning to see that terminated UW football coach Rick Neuheisel has volunteered to coach high school at South Seattle’s Rainier Beach. On the one hand, I do appreciate his willingness to volunteer at the inner-city school, and his desire to coach and bless the kids with his experience and talent. But the best that can be said about his character is that it is questionable. I don’t think I’d want him to be around young-wide-eyed-aspiring-athlete-adolescents; I wouldn’t want him to influence my own children. He was fired for his lack of ethics – gambling and lying – he doesn’t have the character to coach college – so to me, the logic doesn’t work that he would therefore be fine for high school kids, who are even younger and more impressionable, even more in need of strong character and honest role models. What is the school thinking?! Again, the importance of “looking good”: both for the high school and for Neuheisel. Rainier Beach benefits by getting the famous (?!) Husky coach. And Neuheisel benefits by appearance: he is a man who strives to preserve facade at all cost- remember his reaction when confronted about his 49ers interview a few months before he was fired for his gambling. Now, a repentant Rick could have a powerful impact in schools, giving guidance through his regrets, but in his current condition, from what I see in the media, it seems clear that Neuheisel should not be allowed to coach children or be at a school.

And going to the paper products store (yes that’s its name, Paper Products) on the island, I found lists of back-to-school supplies to be purchased. One list has 29 items to buy for second grade – okay, I am counting the 12 glue sticks, but still…I remember showing up for first grade and getting a box of my own crayons, getting big black pencils, jars of rubber cement (to make bouncing balls!) and glue to share. I don’t remember having to bring my own Kleenex or notebook paper to class in elementary school (all I remember bringing is my lunch box – oh, to choose the theme and thermos: Bambi or Snow White?!). These are very specific instructions too, down to the color of the pencils and folders, the type of binder closure (no velcro), the brand of scissors and eraser. And one school is requesting second graders to bring calculators -already?! School, it seems, has become BYOS – Bring Your Own Supplies. (For some on the island, sadly, school is BYOB as well, Bring Your Own Booze and drugs) Those were the days I guess…Next they’ll ask you to provide your own desk and chair, I suppose, the way budgets are going….hey, at least they still provide the teachers….

Yeah, add these reasons from today to my long list of why teaching my daughter myself at home is becoming more and more appealing to me…..Abigail and I start in September – no, actually we already started our “schooling”, five years ago….

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