Report from Louisiana: I have questions

Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash

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.

3 thoughts on “Report from Louisiana: I have questions

  1. 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?

    Sadly, I think its because of the Teachers Union and Democrat Party merger the “schools” are no longer about teaching but the acquisition of power … the PR person is more important to the politicians and thus the union … its not any one teachers fault but then again all your union reps are teachers too …

    the school system has lost sight of their customers (the students and more importantly the parents) … they often ignore parents on course content so even if parents wanted better paid teachers the union would ignore them …

  2. “Why don’t we pay teachers more?” – In some states they are paid well. In my area (not a rich region) some teachers make in the 6 figures.

    “Why don’t we value their work more?” – Teaching is not an easy job and there are some great teachers BUT there are those teachers who simply are there to collect the paycheck and do not care. (same as in all professions) Unfortunately, with the way unions work, everyone in the union gets lumped together.

    “Why is there so much urban decay in my city?” – There is no incentive to live or work in many cities. It is expensive and as soon as someone does commit to living in a city they are taxed to “help” improve others in the city. If you removed some of the expense (tax) of living in a city, more would live there, making the neighborhoods better, making the schools better, making more people willing to live in the city.

    “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?” – There is one political party which survives on dividing people. The press (all forms of media) supports this practice … and VOILA … division and hatred. When I interact with people outside my “media-determined group” there are no issues. Everyone wants the same thing, to have the security of a roof over their family’s heads and food in their bellies. The vast majority of people are good people willing to work to get ahead.

    Our society can be made better, but we can not make it better if we favor one group while demonizing another. Encourage all to work and live together. Call out the bad where it exists and fix it. If there is systemic racism then change the system. Don’t tear it down. After all, the system is nothing except a construct of society. Very little is written in stone (these days), so together let’s fix what ails us. If we choose not to do the right thing? Well, then you have the current state of our cities.

  3. Boy, you do have a lot of questions! I would address some of them but this tablet has a mediocre keyboard and typing on it is a pain. To choose one of your questions, yes, pretty much everyone older than 5 and younger than 90 has a cell phone. The interesting thing is that they are all-purpose devices these days and different people use them differently. Let me give you an example. We have a family plan for cell service with me, my wife, and one of my (millenial) daughters share. Each month I get a usage report. For me it consists maybe 30 minutes of talk, a couple of hundred texts, and maybe a gig of data. My daughter has maybe 10 minutes of talk, a hundred texts, and 10 gigs of data. My wife has 1200 minutes of talk, maybe 500 texts and a couple of gigs of data.

    In my case even though my cell phone is my only phone, I rarely call or receive calls. Mostly I browse blogs and check email. My daughter mostly listens to podcasts on her phone at work. My wife uses her phone to make long calls to family and friends and make appointments. Lots of texts with friends an family. And lots of game playing. All purpose devices.

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