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Vertrees: Political meddling fails to add up for education

Carrol Vertrees

Carrol Vertrees

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Updated: February 27, 2014 6:24AM



A lot of what I needed to know about education I learned from my very first teachers, some parental participation and very little politics.

I don’t understand what is happening in Indianapolis but an area educator blames a “goofy formula” for the way schools have been graded by the state. He probably is right.

Politics clashes with education. Our public instruction chief got elected from “the wrong party” and the other guys don’t like her. Some fun.

It is too much for my simple brain power. In my early school days township trustees were the bosses and two of my early teachers were daughters of the trustee. They were quality teachers — one promoted me early, which proves it.

When my strenuous household duties allow it, I tackle crossword puzzles, and it often makes me feel, well, educated. Like this one the other day: “Amo, Amas---”

I have carried a small load of guilt since high school, though, because I peeked at my slyly concealed book for the answer to that Latin exam question.

I have wondered what Miss Jeannette would have done if she had caught me. She was an astute young teacher and in my dreams I hear her saying “Et tu, Carrol?” I think she would have winked, and that would have healed my urge to cheat on exams.

A big fellow who taught sixth grade actually used corporal punishment on me — well, he paddled me for throwing a spitball at my girl friend. I don’t remember that I learned a lot in that class, but I did learn not to throw stuff at people. Not bad, I reckon.

Any teacher punishment was better than being sent to the principal’s office, from where some kids never returned (that’s what we heard). Our principal always wore a gray suit and a frown. I thought his smile muscles were dead.

The cultural revolution has changed the faces of our schools — it was inevitable. In my long-ago days, married women could not get teaching jobs.

Wives, you know, belonged in the home, running the house, cooking and greeting their working mates with smiles, whether they felt smiley or not.

Miss Ada, Miss Ava, Miss Fern — on and on. And Mr. Smith, Mr. Burton, on and on.

Some of my close friends are retired from Hoosier school rooms, and I know they enriched the system.

It is nice that the paper runs pictures and information about “Outstanding Teachers.” Many who are or were outstanding aren’t always honored publicly, so we may not know about them, but their students know. That is the real test.

Parental apathy, politics, changing cultures, technology. Hot debate about how much training teachers should have. Grading school systems. Help!

My school stuff was reasonably successful. I know how many parts Gaul was divided into and I was a speedy whiz at pecking out the test sentence in my typing class. (You know, “Every good man...etc.)

Taking geometry felt like punishment, not a blessing, but some kids really liked it.

I wonder what the politicians will come up with next, but am afraid to ask.

They might have to review the grading formula. That scares me.

I am partly self educated, thanks to crossword puzzles. I know that Ada and Enid are not sisters — they are towns in Oklahoma.

I will bet that some of the folks in Hoosier politics don’t know that.

Some of the charter school experts may not even work crossword puzzles. That is a shame.



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