Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Finally... Class Picnic: Part Two

So, last Friday was "The Class Picnic."

Now, let me be clear. This was not an official, school sanctioned, end of the year celebration planned by Mrs. Blog for her class. This was a picnic planned by her student's parents to show their appreciation for their children's teacher.

Allow me a brief digression...

We are currently living in a culture in America, where there are few professions shown less respect by Republicans and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, politicians, pundits and the media, than public school teachers. The Blog does not believe that at any time in America's history, public school teachers have been demonized the way they are today. They are regularly portrayed as incompetent, lazy and greedy.

A recent "Mallard Fillmore" comic strip (The Blog's favorite right-wing, asshole, cartoon duck) suggested that (I paraphrase) "If you graduate college with the equivalent of a 2nd grade education, you are well qualified to be a 1st grade teacher."

Oh, and let's not forget the subtext that teacher's unions are sanctuaries for pedophiles.

... End digression.

Mrs. Blog has been teaching the same Pre-Kindergarden program in the same school for 25 years. And, for most of those years, the end of the school year has always meant some sort of parent planned show of appreciation, respect and love for Teacher.

A party in the classroom, usually. Gifts, usually a nice plaque with all the kid's names on it, flowers, a gift card to a nice restaurant.

I think that the picnic was a first. But, I'm getting to that.

The thing that really touches your old Uncle PC is that he, "Mr. Teacher," if you will, is often included in the appreciation.

I don't like to "toot my own horn" here on the blog. (That's what Facebook is for.) But, I am going to make an exception now.

All teachers will tell you that, in one way or ten others, a teacher's spouse is a major contributor to the teacher's ability to do their job.

Whether it's putting up with piles of homework on the dining room table, making dinner because the teacher has another four hours of work to be done for the class after she gets home from work, or knowing that he will never put a car in the garage because it is a storage unit for all of the stuff that will be used in the classroom throughout the year.

(The Blog is being gender specific, here, because that is how it is in his house. I'm sure that it works the same when the genders are reversed.)

And, if the spouse happens to be more artistically inclined than the teacher, or more adept at using a computer, well, then the teacher's spouse is going to be contributing a lot to his spouse's teaching environment, without a District paycheck.

Another digression...

Have you ever wondered why The Blog posts so late at night? Did you think that he is just sitting on the computer, surfing the web, trolling Facebook and, eventually, getting enough scotch into his system to vomit words onto his blog?

Well, as far as it goes, you would be right.

But, he is multi-tasking.

As I write this, there are photos of the class "culmination" (the school district prefers to save the term "graduation" for those who make it through high school) are being printed out for the parents, and will be printing for another hour or so.

... End digression #2.

So, when the parents actually recognize the contribution that "Mr. Teacher" makes to their child's education, well, that's pretty damned special to him!

(Seriously, when was the last time you thanked your kid's teacher's spouse for all that he has done?)

Now, about this picnic...

The word "picnic" suggests hot dogs, watermelon and juice boxes.

This picnic was more like a banquet!

A full blown, Mexican style fiesta.

Any meat that you could put on a BBQ was there! Corn on the cob, frijoles (Sanora and refried), rice, strawberry agua fresca, salsa and tortillas, and yes, hot dogs and watermelon.


And all for "Teacher" and "Mr. Teacher."

(Also, hugs and "thank you-s.")

Did I mention in "Part One" that my wife's school is in South Central Los Angeles?

Even people who don't live in Southern California know that that is code for "the ghetto or the barrio."

Yes, Mrs. Blog's students are poor. Not the poorest of the poor. But, the "working poor." The moms and dads all work a job or three to feed, house and clothe their families. They buy clothes at the local thrift stores and "off brand" groceries at the little neighborhood markets that freckle the downtown neighborhoods. (I find it interesting that the only place that "Mom & Pop" businesses seem to continue to thrive are in the poor neighborhoods.) Virtually all receive some kind of government assistance or another.

And yet, every year, they pool their resources to show their appreciation for the people who educate their children.

One last digression....

In a school system that has an alarming number of drop-outs and a depressing number of graduates who never leave "the barrio," 98% of the kids who began school in my wife's class graduated high school. 60% graduated from college. My wife has been visited or received letters from former students who are now attorneys, entrepreneurs, and yes, teachers. One former student (now an elementary school teacher herself,) named her second child after my wife. (If you ever run across a Mexican-American child named Barbara, you will have found her!)

.... End last digression.

Sure, there are a few out there who fit the description of "entitled." A few who think that they and theirs should be taken care of by the government. For every one of them, there are 50 who don't fit that mold. (You want to know about entitled parents? Talk to teachers in the Beverly Hills or Palos Verde school districts. They will tell you about entitled!)

There were a lot of "anchor babies" and "illegals" present at the picnic.

(The Blog would like to see the terms "anchor baby" and "illegal" relegated to the racial epithet junk heap next to their close relative "wetback" sooner than later. But, he uses them now to illustrate his point.)

Not the four and five-year-olds present, for the most part. But, their moms and dads and their grandparents.

Many of my wife's student's parents today were my wife's students 20 to 25 years ago. Back then, it was pretty much a given that her kid's parents were not here legally. Many of the kids were born here. Many were brought here from Mexico by their parents. In the late 1980s, most of those parents benefited from The Amnesty Act signed into law by Ronald Reagan.

But, teachers don't care about immigration or citizenship status. If a child is put in their classroom, it is the teachers job to teach them. Period.

Now, I had planned to work a rant in here about the right-wing, Tea Party, Republicans who characterize these loving, giving, hard working people as "parasites, criminals and welfare queens," and oppose the DREAM act (an act originally proposed by that radical lefty Orin Hatch back in 2003) and any sort of immigration reform that doesn't involve mass imprisonment or deportation.

I will say that the president's executive order suspending deportation under strict but fair rules is a step in the right direction.

But, screw it.

I have talked about it before and,I'm sure, I will again.

Tonight, I am just going to celebrate the people who actually appreciate the people who educate their children.

And, those educator's spouses.


  1. Alan, after reading your blog . . . I'm now a fan and follower!! How wonderful it is to read my thoughts being written in your blog. How wonderful it is that our spouses are honored for all that they - you - do for us and to have it acknowledged by the parents! In just this one reading, I chuckled, got pissed off (at the way children and teachers are treated)and had my heart warmed. What a pleasure it is to read your thoughts, digressions and all! Keep it up. I'm now on to your previous blogs . . .and looking forward to reading them!!

  2. Love this! And I can attest to all the truth of all this, having been around you and the Mrs. lo-these-many-years now. Speak it, brother!