But this time of year, as administrators and teachers sit for hours and hours and hours to bid farewell to seniors at multiple graduation ceremonies, we’d like to toss them a bouquet.
Let’s face it. We leave a colossal amount of societal ills on the schoolhouse steps. We expect schools not just to keep order and safely transport and feed our children (often two times a day). We also expect them to spot child abuse and report it, and to navigate messy divorces and disputes over who gets little Johnny and when.
They have to worry about weapons and drugs and bullying and adult-style assaults. We’re watching over their shoulders when crime does occur in the schools, making sure they follow not only a myriad of laws but also truckloads of regulations.
And, of course, there’s the little matter of dealing with irate parents.
Somehow in the midst of all that, there’s time for teaching.
We need to take stock of what we’re piling on these folks, and the elephantine and interminable responsibilities we put on them. To deliver us our kids, intact and grown into young men and women, after 12 years of chaotic comings and goings – well, that’s a Herculean feat. And we’re probably not as grateful as we should be.
There are times, of course, when a school bureaucracy is out of touch and could use a paradigm shift. We found, for instance, the Burke County district appallingly dismissive of frantic parents’ concerns Saturday when six of its school buses on the way to Six Flags collided on I-20 near Covington, injuring 65. An automated message told parents to pick up their kids at the school at 4 p.m. – but they left parents waiting two and a half hours after that.
“I didn’t know where they were,” one parent said. “I have been getting updates from Facebook. The school should have told us something.”
“We were all available all day to anybody who had any questions,” a district spokeswoman shrugged.
Sorry. Not good enough. Not when you’re dealing with so many precious young lives and anxious parents. If Burke County thinks it can’t learn anything from this episode or do a better job of communicating in the future, then they’re the ones who’ve got some learning to do.
But again, these folks have a responsibility so enormous it wouldn’t fit on most of our shoulders.
So, to the administrators and teachers who’ve been congratulating our kids for having been guided through a 12-year
obstacle course, we say:
Right back at you.