Monday, September 28, 2009

Getting Schooled By The President

Perhaps you read this news recently, or perhaps you are discovering the horrors of it here for the first time. If that’s the case, let me begin by saying don’t shoot the messenger. And then I’m going to remind you that I’m the messenger. I do that because I don’t want you to shoot me. Ok, are we clear on that? I’m the messenger delivering bad news and I have no desire to be a target for whatever projectile you are about to want to launch my way after reading what I will eventually get around to telling you…unless of course you are shooting little balls of bacon wrapped cheddar nuggets. Then you can open up on me with reckless abandon. Well, not too reckless. We don’t want to waste any nuggets of perfection, which by the way is the exact opposite of what this article is.

Ok, now on to the news I wanted to share with you. Just remember reading it that I am merely the messenger. Oh wait, I’m pretty sure we covered that in the above paragraph. Yes, in fact we did. While I realize the 3 to 4.5 people that may read this are not of school age, they do have children of school age and will be affected by this much differently than those of school age. And here we go: The White House (and not the one at the corner of my street that hasn’t mowed it’s front lawn since Peter Cetera was a member of Chicago, even though no for sale or foreclosure sign is up yet) has announced that the President wants to extend the school year and the school day. Ok parents, go ahead and start singing “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” (preferably Andy Williams’ version, because that is clearly superior to everyone else’s).

Obviously, the President must have a good reason for this, like the fact that 8 out of 10 school children polled believed that Cap’N Crunch was a member of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, kids today think they are wearing fedoras when they are in fact wearing Trilby hats, the CW exists as a TV network or maybe even that we are behind many other countries academically. Just like in NASCAR (which is racing where cars turn left), when you are behind, you work harder to catch up. And clearly the President wants us to catch up.

Do you know how I caught up in school? I tried to joke my way out of a bad grade or the fact that I didn’t do my homework. Then do you know how I really caught up? Detention and extra credit, not that I’m advocating that as a solution here. The White House also believes that children are less likely to get into trouble after school when they are still at school or in some other academic endeavor like intermural chalkboard eraser cleaning. Obviously they have a point there. I can remember all the trouble I used to get into when school got out. I’d go home, pop a big bowl of popcorn, sit on the couch and watch WGN’s amazing afternoon lineup of Cheers and WKRP in Cincinnati, or if I was really lucky, their broadcast of an afternoon Chicago Cubs game with Harry Caray at the mic. So as you can see, it’s obvious that the President wants to curtail the after school shenanigans of bad asses like me. Plus, I guess there’s the “valid” (which I am saying very sarcastically, by the way) fact that kids who have working parents would have a safe place to be after school until their parents get home. And is any work at home parent really going to complain about having a quiet house or more errand running (i.e. Starbucks) time each day? Uh, no.

Ok, so we can almost make a case for longer school days. The summer deal however is a bit more to swallow (that’s what she said). While most parents yearn to send their children back to school around July 5th, I tend to like having my twins around during the summer so we can do all those fun traditional summer things together like huddling under the A/C vent, mainlining snow cones to keep our body temperatures at a safe level and calling all of our friends with pools incessantly until they invite us over. And what would happen to the traditional family vacation if the summer was cut short? I don’t think the President realizes how shorter summers would affect my family’s (by which I mean only me, with my extremely reluctant family in tow) goal of touring all of this country’s fine cheese and dairy factories. You didn’t think I was going to say National Parks, did you? I was able to check that goal off my to-do list now that Ken Burns National Parks documentary is airing on PBS! It almost makes me want to support PBS financially during their next pledge break.

Mr. President, I urge you to reconsider your plans to lengthen both the school day and school year. After all, can you blame this country’s youth for thinking that Capt’N Crunch was a member of Sgt. Pepper? Have you seen his uniform? I almost made the same mistake myself and I was a product of the traditional agrarian school calendar. Of course I am currently unemployed and my twins have to help ME with THEIR homework, but that’s the exception to the rule. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish reviewing the state capitals with the twins for their school project. By the way, does anyone know what year San Diego became the state capital of California? I’m thinking it was around 1350, but I want to make sure.