“How was the first day back?” Parents know not to anticipate the answer, because those who want to hear “great!” will get “lousy!” instead, and even the most blasé kid might come bounding out of school enthusiastic at new teachers and classmates. At the end of the summer, we parents are so relieved with the return of the school-year routine that we might not notice how nervous our children really are. And at that point the unhappy but honest responses to our questions are more valuable than the insincere positive ones.
Last week I was grateful for the one “terrible!” and even more grateful for the other four days’ answers, which went from “okay” to “neat!” which with my kid is near the top end of the scale, one notch below “awesome.” The bad day was the first (“I don’t know most of the kids in my classes”: which will correct itself soon enough). The rest of the week brought reports of interesting things learned and quizzes done well, two indications that the year will be a good one.
True, a strike is looming, and like all residents I recognize how disruptive and polarizing it’s likely to be. I want to believe that both sides are doing what they can to avert a strike, but this is a season when the mere mention of taxes is a call to arms and public-sector unions enjoy little favor in some communities. As an employee of a state university (and at another one before this), I’m naturally going to consider education one of the most important obligations of a state to its citizens. And as members of the LF-LB community, we all appreciate the value of our excellent schools. Two years after moving here, largely for the sake of the school, I remain convinced that LFHS is a remarkable school and worth every penny.
Reinforcement of that came a month ago when three young men from Connecticut visited us for a few days. New graduates of a couple of the best schools in their area, they were astounded by the facilities and impressed by the kinds of courses my kid was taking. The average SAT scores of last year’s LFHS class were substantially higher in all three categories than those of the graduating class of a much smaller private prep school. These boys were astounded: a whole semester’s course in modern Chicago authors! AP Latin 5? It’s hard to find that anywhere else in the country.
We have a unique institution in our care, and we entrust our children to the faculty and staff. Even those who don’t live here are, by virtue of their roles in our children’s lives, part of our community and worth the respect we owe our neighbors. My fervent hope is that a strike will be averted; but that’s out of our hands. What we as residents can do is make sure that our teachers know that they’re valued. Because you can’t put a price on having your kid jump into the car and start telling you how great a day he or she had.