#931 – Dick Bernard: A new school year begins

In a few hours, most Minnesota students return to school for the 2014-15 school year. At this moment, more than 800,000 Minnesota public school students, and more than 100,000 more teachers, administrators, cooks, custodians, bus drivers, etc., are, regardless of their grade level, or number of years of experience, somewhat nervous about tomorrow. It is a bit like preparing to go “on stage”. The jitters are very normal.
(About 9 of 10 school age kids attend publicly funded schools. Education is a primary constitutional function of government and reflects the diversity that is America. Most of the remaining students attend non-public schools of one sort or another. A smaller percentage are home-schooled. The general Minnesota data for all is linked above. National enrollment figures are similar. About one of six Americans are enrolled in public schools.)
Among those returning to school in Minnesota will be eight of our grandkids, my daughter who is a school principal, and another daughter who is a school board member.
Even though we’re physically detached from that place called “school”, it is certainly never far away.
We wish them all well.
I’ve spent most of my life immersed in public education. Both parents were career public school teachers. Both of them were my teachers, at school, in 8th grade, then high school. Four aunts and two uncles were school teachers, most of them career teachers. Some cousins are retired teachers…. Yes, school has never been far away, including the 27 years I represented public school teachers through what was then called Minnesota Education Association (now Education Minnesota (EM)).
Today was the last day of the Minnesota State Fair, and we went to the Fair. For me it was the second trip.
This day I made my usual stop, at the long-time booth of Education Minnesota.
(click to enlarge)

Education Minnesota booth, September 1, 2014

Education Minnesota booth, September 1, 2014

For many years, Education Minnesota’s booth has been one of the more popular stops at the Fair. Folks can stop by and get their photo and a 2014-15 calendar for free. I got in line for mine, which you can see, in part, here: Bernard – EM 9-1-2014001. Julie Blaha, tomorrow a 5th grade teacher in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minnesota’s largest, and for several preceding years President of the local teacher’s union there, greeted all of us in the cheery way of a great teacher. Those who entered the EM booth knew they were with friends.
School is a complex place during the best of times. When mixed in with politics, and emotions, and all of the other facets that go with a complex people institution, no doubt even the first day some things will happen, somewhere.
But when one considers the infinite potential for problems, it is amazing how well schools work.
Most kids are looking forward to being back in school, albeit somewhat nervously. The system will work, not always perfectly, and for the most part retired folks like ourselves will not hear much, mostly because there is not much to hear! Things are working okay.
Our nine grandkids (one graduated long ago) are all unique individuals. Somehow or other, schools do a pretty good job blending kids with each other, and helping each kid find his or her way in whatever grade he/she finds him or herself tomorrow.
We wish everyone well.
Part of the gathering crowd at the Minnesota State Fair, last day, September 1, 2014

Part of the gathering crowd at the Minnesota State Fair, last day, September 1, 2014

from Shirley L:

Appreciated your comments about school and opening day. It was always an exciting time for our family with both parents in school positions – and my brother and I matriculating at the college lab school. Such a regular routine that in the fall I feel a bit out of step! I do take advantage of the back-to-school sales of school supplies…really stock up on pens, paper, folders, sketchbooks, etc.
So here’s a toast to you – your grandkids – and all of our wonderful memories of those great school days!!
from Denise S, President of Education Minnesota: The other day a couple was [at the booth] getting their picture taken and they said it was #17. Fun! A great tradition, indeed. Our best guess is we do 1,200-1,500 calendars a day. Good stuff!

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