So I get home from school today, ready to post this week’s “Time Travel Tuesday,” and started to sift through my old columns to find one worth presenting. To my amusement, I found this piece that I wrote some four years before I taught my first class — which just goes to show you that sometimes I’m so right I even amaze myself.
August 31, 2002
Public Education and Major League Baseball
I don’t think that anyone will be particularly surprised by the point of this column, but just in case the Think About It Legal Team has advised me to begin with the following disclaimer:
Warning — this week’s column could be found shocking and offensive to anyone with the perceptive abilities of a kumquat.
Everybody got that? Good. Because I’m about to annoy a lot of people, but this is really something that needs to be said.
I was brought to this point by something that occurred while shopping at a local grocery establishment. (The Think About It Legal Team had advised me that we were running low on cheese-flavored popcorn.) While wandering the aisles I happened to pass a pair of women, presumably mothers, having a conversation. Now being the gentleman that I am I tried to avert my ears so as not to be intrusive, but this proved difficult because A) they were speaking quite loudly and B) I am a writer and, by genetic dictation, incurably curious. Okay, nosy.
One of the mothers was whining at the top of her lungs about how much homework her kid had. “I’m sorry, but I don’t send my kid to school for seven hours so he can come home and do two hours of homework a night,” was her well-reasoned argument. I continued to walk — in fact, I picked up the pace — because I felt quite certain that the next words out of her mouth would be to vivisect her child’s teacher as a horrible, dictatorial, rabid tyrant with poor fashion sense, and if she had started that up I may well have turned around and slugged her.
I’m really sick of hearing people bag on teachers, folks. I’m tired of people who complain about the people in this society who perform the most important job for the least amount of respect, of the people who don’t seem to think that a seriously altruistic mindset is needed to become a teacher in the first place because God knows they don’t do it for the money, of the parents who will side with their kids when a good teacher is just trying to get the child to stop attempting to carve swear words into his desk or, frequently, his neighbor, and just get the blasted kid to read “Superfudge.”
“Oh YEAH, Mr. Petit?” I can hear the critics shout. “What do YOU know about it? Do YOU have any kids? Do YOU have to go to parent-teacher conferences? Do YOU have to drop ‘em off at soccer practice while they’re trying to remember the capital of North Montana? HUH?”
No, Mr. Critic, I am not a parent. However, I do have parents, and one of ‘em is a teacher. So shut up. Jerkweed.
For years now I’ve observed both sides of the spectrum, as a student and as someone who is close to several teachers. I know that teachers often spend their own money on the supplies they need to keep your kids from still sounding out the big words at the age of 30. I’ve got a friend who teaches music that spent a large chunk of this summer cleaning and painting her classroom, battling the giant Mold Monsters from Venus that had invaded her ventilation system and carry a whole new array of diseases we’ll never find cures for because the future scientists of America are too busy drawing dirty cartoons in their biology books.
I’ve seen what good teachers do, and I’ve seen people poke ‘em in the eye for it. (And don’t even get me started on people who spout that “they only work nine months out of the year” garbage).
By contrast, let’s look at the current situation with Major League Baseball. By yesterday they either decided to go on strike or not go on strike and frankly, I don’t care either way at this point because I find it difficult to sympathize.
There are two major factors to consider here. On the one hand, it would seem quite fair for the player’s salaries to be dictated not by upper management but by the demands of the free market, skill and draw being rewarded accordingly. On the other hand, even the lowest-rung MLB player is making $200,000 a year to play BASEBALL for God’s sake, so stop your whining and be grateful you’re not being forced to CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIETY YOU ARROGANT, SPOILED BRATS!
Like I said, two sides.
So here’s my proposal — let’s take the money that would be spent on Major League Baseball and dump it into the schools. In addition to teacher raises I also suggest we sandblast the desks, hire G.I. Joe to infiltrate campus and wipe out the Mold Monsters from Venus and outfit each classroom with restraints because maybe if certain parents had taught their kids to sit still and pay attention in the first place they wouldn’t need two hours of work a night to retain what they should have learned that day anyway.
Blake M. Petit can’t wait to see the letters he gets on this one. Contact him with comments, suggestions or Mold Monster repellent atBlakeMPetit@gmail.com