Tell me about school

The Covington News - - Front page -

The old man had not had a good day. He set out af­ter break­fast to ac­com­plish the fairly sim­ple task of mow­ing his mod­est yard for the first time in 2010. But af­ter clean­ing away win­ter stor­age grime, in­stalling a new spark plug and pour­ing in fresh gas and oil, he be­came frus­trated when on the first pull the lawn mower’s starter cord broke. Stand­ing there, hold­ing the rub­ber Thandle, he watched the bulk of the cord ratchet away into the mower’s mo­tor hous­ing.

Two trips to the hard­ware store failed to bear fruit be­fore the stub­born old guy caved in and paid a small mo­tor re­pair shop to re­place the starter cord. And it had not helped his dis­po­si­tion any when the ex­pert ac­com­plished the task in less than 10 min­utes.

But the yard had, at last, been cut. Wearily, the old man sank heav­ily into his fa­vorite chair to en­joy a cool bev­er­age. Just then, the front door flew open and his grand­daugh­ter bounded across the room on in­vis­i­ble coiled springs of en­ergy, right up into his lap.

“Grandpa, Grandpa!” she chirped. “I thought we’d never get here to­day! How are you?”

“Well, Sweet­pea, I’m fine now that you’re here!” the old man replied. “How’s my pre­cious grand­daugh­ter do­ing to­day? Did you have a good day at school?”

The lit­tle girl’s face fell, and she re­laxed her tight hug around his neck. Sit­ting back, she low­ered her voice.

“Grandpa, some of my friend’s par­ents are so an­gry, and I just don’t un­der­stand. They’re all up­set that some­body is tak­ing our teach­ers away next year. And one of my best friends was cry­ing be­cause her older sis­ter, the one in mid­dle school, won’t be a cheer­leader any more.”

The lit­tle girl leaned for­ward and propped her el­bows on her grand­daddy’s belly, cradling her face in her hands as she looked right into his eyes.

“What’s go­ing on, Grandpa?” she asked. “Why is ev­ery­bodyso up­set? Is ev­ery­thing go­ing to be OK?”

The old man con­sid­ered his grand­child for a moment, took a swig of his fa­vorite bev­er­age, swirled it as he looked out the win­dow in deep thought, then turned back to the child’s earnest gaze.

“Sweet­pea,” he be­gan, “back when I was a lit­tle boy in school, I car­ried my lunch in a bucket...”

“Walk­ing 12 miles to school, up­hill both ways!” she in­ter­rupted with that in­no­cent lit­tle laugh­ter pro­duced only by chil­dren.

The old man soaked up ev­ery sound like a sponge, rel­ish­ing the moment he knew would so very soon van­ish, so swiftly as to make him won­der if it had ever re­ally hap­pened. She would soon stop gig­gling.

“Sweet­pea,” he re­sumed, “there’s an old say­ing I re­mem­ber from my foot­ball days which says: when the go­ing gets tough, the tough get go­ing. And what that means is that when ev­ery­thing is go­ing well, any­one can play the game. But when things get tough, it takes a tough per­son to rise up and meet the chal­lenge. And that, honey, is the sit­u­a­tion fac­ing our schools to­day.”

“Grandpa, I’m not ex­actly sure what you mean,” said Sweet­pea. “Can you please ex­plain it to me a lit­tle bet­ter?”

“Well, I’ll try,” he said. “Ba­si­cally, honey, our schools have been in­su­lated from the ef­fects of the up’s and down’s of our econ­omy for a long time. Prop­erty own­ers, like your Grandpa, pay lots of taxes in or­der for our lo­cal Board of Ed­u­ca­tion to make de­ci­sions about how to spend that money. In the past, they’ve been able to of­fer lots of pro­grams in our schools. But now, there’s not enough money to go around. So the board mem­bers — good peo­ple that we all know and re­spect and voted to rep­re­sent us— are hav­ing to make tough choices.”

The lit­tle girl had a puz­zled look on her face, but then her eyes widened and she sat up straight.

“So they have to de­cide be­tween keep­ing our teach­ers or play­ing mid­dle school sports, like foot­ball and cheer­lead­ing?” she asked.

“That’s ex­actly right, Sweet­pea,” the old man replied. “The mem­bers of the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion have worked very, very hard to come up with a plan that ben­e­fits the most peo­ple while hurt­ing the very least num­ber of peo­ple. The plan they’ve pre­sented is a sound one, given what they have to work with in these tough times.”

“So, Grandpa, will ev­ery­thing be OK?” Sweet­pea asked furtively.

“Yes, Sweet­pea,” he said, “ev­ery­thing will work out fine. The board mem­bers are do­ing what the peo­ple elected them to do: to lead in tough times. What they need from us now is our sup­port.”

“Just as I turned to an ex­pert for help with my lawn mower this morn­ing, we all need to sup­port our lo­cal Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­bers as they deal with very dif­fi­cult times.”

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