Sunday, March 3, 2013

And there it went

How does two months pass by without a single entry? It's called January and February. Ah, the life of a teacher. As we plunge into the coldest depths of winter we, along with accountants, can't find two spare minutes to rub together. I've been doing this for a decade and a half and I'm still surprised at the hectic pace of January and February.

But also it's fair to say January and February gave me little to write about, at least that is true in the realm of politics. Did anything of consequence happen since January 3 politically? The president's inauguration should count, it really should. But that was a ceremony set in motion by a victory in November. And then since the day of the inauguration occurred on a Sunday, it took place then, privately. But then it took place publicly on the next day. And did it even need to take place? It was a re-inauguration after all. And even if an inauguration doesn't occur, the transfer of power / new term begins at noon on the day of inauguration. Of course, the national anthem wasn't really sung at this . . . I digress.

Chris Cizilla summed up best why politics hasn't commanded my attention in the past two months. His Worst Week in Washington gave the whole town the award for this week. Politicians and journalists both. Well said. Fortunately my family members who live in the D.C. area live in Alexandria, so they can escape blame.

I think I've come to the conclusion that the Democrats and Republicans are both right. The Democrats are right that the Republicans are trying to protect their constituency from paying a greater burden of the nation's tax bill. Republicans are right that the Democrats are trying to protect their constituency from possibly losing any benefits, especially those funded with Enron-style accounting. They're both right. And all 536 of them are wrong because they can't concede on some smaller points to bring us to some sort of a compromise.

Teaching hasn't given me much to write on, either. It's been a bleak winter in this field. I see more and more evidence that no one is safe in this field from the power of the budget ax; now we are waiting to hear the news, for it's March and in the proscribed sequence by which we must publicly put forth a budget we have the month in which the district has to figure out where it's going to cut. One can't help but notice the tricks various districts come up with to make the numbers add up: eliminating courses or programs, reducing staff to part-time status, skimp on textbooks. Meanwhile, policymakers engage in proposed policymaking that is belittling. Note the proposal by Philadelphia's head of schools, or the insulting opener that Governor Corbett has offered to me and my colleagues. Sadly, regrettably, and as an antecedent to a great I-told-you-so in about 20 years, we (as a society) simply don't want to pay for education. We want it on the cheap. The first consequence is that good people leave the field of working with kids. The second consequence is that kids aren't enriched as much as they should be.

Well, this is depressing.

As I come out of the winter, it's important to keep in perspective what is truly important:

  • My kids are growing and impressing me with how they are maturing. 
  • My wife is brilliant. 
  • My family is more than I could ever ask for . . . and interesting . . . and growing. 
  • My home is warm (filled with gadgets, too). 
  • There is food in our pantry (though I can only eat 43 points of it per day . . . grumble (not my mind, my belly)).
  • My health is good.
  • I've been entrusted to something important from my church. 
  • I'm surrounded by good colleagues at work. 
  • I work daily with kids I trust and whose company I enjoy. 

Okay, I swear . . . I'll write on one of those bullets next.

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