School gets under way this week for most of Missouri and that's either good or bad news depending on which side of the fence you fall. Actually, I suspect that by now, even most kids have had enough summer vacation and they, too, welcome the onset of the school year. Parents, I suspect, are universally thrilled to see the calendar turn to the first day of school.
I don't want to wax nostalgic over yesteryear or yearn for the days of yore. But it's abundantly safe to say that the challenges facing our school systems today are far, far different than in my day. Truth is, those challenges are different today than they were just a few short years ago.
We expect - no, make that demand - far too much from teachers today. Where we once just asked teachers to educate our children, today we are increasingly asking them to instill discipline and respect not taught in the home. And since the issue of respect - especially for people in authority - is not taught at home, our expectation of teachers is far higher than what can be achieved.
I have heard horror stories of teachers being subjected to verbal abuse from students. And in many instances, the teachers are virtually helpless to react. Students have often been "schooled" by their parents on their "rights." And they know fully well how to play the game.
Because of an increased deterioration of classroom discipline, students who want to learn are often cheated because excessive time and energy is devoted to those few who disrupt. This occurs more often than you might imagine.
I can hear you now. "Well back in my day if a kid spoke like that to a teacher they'd get their butt busted faster than you could blink..." And that was probably the case.
But if you haven't noticed, the culture has changed. And not for the better. Now, far too many kids come to the school ill-prepared for society, much less for learning. Thugs - disguised as kids - come fully prepared to disrupt as a way of showing their disdain for authority or control. They've learned these lessons at home and on the street corner.
Most schools last week released their MAP tests scores and the results were less than thrilling. But the dismal scores are more a reflection of an inadequate home environment and inadequate parenting and preparation than inadequate teaching preparation within our schools.
So the school year will begin but few things will actually change. Some students will come prepared to learn and achieve and take that next step in the educational process. And others will come for the babysitting services only.
Unfortunately, we will once again turn to the teachers and expect them to perform miracles and prepare some children for life because their parents lack the skills or desire to perform those tasks at home. And that means that those who come prepared may well have to wait patiently while those who come to disrupt get the lion's share of attention.