By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – With my retirement from the classroom now about 33 (school) days away, I find myself sometimes doing a little self-check: “Are you sure? Any second thoughts?”
The answer to that question is a resounding NOPE. I am ready. I am done. I have some deep questions about the state of education today, and about the issue of teacher pay, and about the expectations of our students, and oh, so many other things.
I hope to explore some of those questions after May 28, and after a short decompression period of rest, relaxation, regrouping and reprioritizing.
I have a lot of other questions on this Monday morning, too, most not related to education, but to life in general. For example,
How have we let social media become such a profound influence in our lives? How did we even function before social media? Why do we let this dictate so much of our moods, information, relationships, and activities? Why?!
Why don’t we pay teachers more? Why don’t we value the work they do more? Why does the public relations person in a school district make literally twice as much as a classroom teacher?
Why have so many people turned away from the church?
Why aren’t we, as a nation, able to sustain that level of American pride that we felt after 9-11? Why are we so divided and this group hates that group and this group hates that other group and everyone is mad all the time?
Wouldn’t our kids be healthier, both mentally and physically, if they played outside more? Pickup baseball games at the playground? I walk through the neighborhood and seldom see kids.
Why are we still wearing masks if most of the population is either vaccinated or has Covid antibodies from being sick?
Why do all SUVs look the same? I miss muscle cars.
Is there any single reliable, unbiased, objective newspaper in America anymore?
What is the percentage of people in America without a cell phone? Has any other invention in our lifetime become so necessary so fast? Do people realize how fast this technology has rewired our brains? And is this a good thing?
Why don’t we do a better job taking care of mental health in our country?
Are we going to get to the point where we have to show proof of Covid vaccines to travel, or attend concerts, or go to school? Is this legal? Do we do this with other vaccines? How many legal challenges will this invite? How long will this drag out?
Why is there so much urban decay in my city? Why are we letting buildings just decay and collapse all across the city? No wonder people feel hopeless here.
Why are liberals so convinced that alternative energies are the answer and electric cars are better when our power grid collapsed for over a week under a single snowstorm?
Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering about things like this. I used to hear my parents utter similar frustrations; a lot of times my Mom would worry about the state of music, for example, and wonder why everyone didn’t listen to Frank Sinatra all of the time. (She wasn’t really wrong…). Sometimes I think, maybe I’m just getting old. I remember too much, and so often our memories are nostalgic and romanticized. Maybe things weren’t that great.
Or maybe they were.
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and at Medium; she is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.