News from the Land of Educationville is not good. Children of parents who neglect to take a personal hand in the education of their progeny have little hope for any sort of meaningful future, and may as well resign themselves to being ignorant and stupid the rest of their lives. The tragic irony with ignorant people is that they don’t know they are ignorant, so rarely do anything to improve.
In 1994 we had an experience with a different twist from what we’ve been hearing. My wife and daughter and I attended a preview orientation for sixth graders going into junior high school. On that night we all happened to be wearing dress clothes. I wore a business suit, and Suzy and Cyra-Lea wore dresses. To their credit, most others in attendance at least remembered to wear underwear, over fifty percent of them on the inside. Judging from appearances, we were the only persons present who knew all the letters of the alphabet and could count above ten—except for the principal, who was exceptionally cool. The day our son graduated from grade school we dropped by his office to leave him a gift to show our gratitude for putting up so patiently with our recalcitrant genius: a fifth of whiskey.
At the orientation the very first potentate, a very large man who was probably a football lineman in school, got up and immediately began speaking exuberantly about discipline, running down the list of sanctions against rule infractions: detentions for this, suspensions for that, expulsions for certain forms of miscreant behavior, executions by hanging for still others. People were taking notes and asking, “Excuse me, but was that two days of detention for throwing a sandwich at a teacher and three for dumping a soft drink on his head, or the other way around?” They didn’t realize there would be no quiz at the end.
This was not what we had come to hear.
When the time for questions finally arrived, our daughter, who was eleven years old, broke the ice with the first query, saying: “This was all fascinating, but could you tell us a little about the educational programs and opportunities that exist for students at the school?” The principal, who knew her, was laughing his butt off in the background, while the friendly Gestapo just stared at her with his mouth open. He couldn’t give her a straight answer, and we left without one, other than his assurance that if she was as good a girl as she seemed to be and worked hard she’d make out just fine. She was and she did and she did.