The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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February 17, 2014

It was always school work before play around the house

An Editor's Notes

- — I was listening to the radio on my way to The Herald one day last week, and caught most of an ad sponsored by the state education association about how its members are trying to forge stronger bonds between students and their parents to help the education of our youth.

I thought about how easy this was to accomplish when I was a kid. It’s a real challenge today because of a variety of factors. We have a lot of families where mom and dad both have to work, making them less available to stay on top of their children’s educational needs. We have a lot of single-parent families where mom or dad need to work, which cuts into quality time with children. Unfortunately, we have some children who live without either parent, relying on the supervision of grandparents or older siblings.

All of this makes it brutally tough on learning, and equally as tough on good teachers who are trying to make it happen. Let’s face it, even the most ardent student needs supervision when it comes to studying or other after-school work. After all, they are kids, and they’ll likely choose fun or recreation any day over studying.

When I was a kid, I would have much rather been outdoors with my friends instead of finishing school work, and I considered myself a good student. But I rarely got the choice. It was school work first – especially under the discerning eyes of my mom, before recreation. “When your homework’s done” was the popular and only answer when I asked if I could go somewhere or do something. It knew no age limit – it was the same answer from elementary school until the day I graduated.

Had my parents not been as tough when it came to school work, I would have probably done what most kids would do – put if off until a later time, or another day, or maybe forget about it altogether. Because a lot of kids today don’t live under that heavy hand of a parent, it makes the process much more difficult. Teachers can only be with students for a small portion of an eight-hour day, which is why the parent-teacher partnership is paramount.

But a heavy hand alone isn’t enough. I was lucky to have parents who instilled in me the importance of striving to be successful. But it was more than talk. I watched them walk the walk, which in the end was a major motivator for me to try to do my best. I didn’t always succeed, but much can be learned through failure.

I know we can’t return to the old days, and for many reasons, that’s a good thing. But wasn’t it a good thing when teachers didn’t have to seek a partnership with parents?

It was already there – it was understood that’s the way society operated when it came to the educating our kids.

Organic? Who can afford it?

One of my pet peeves is most times when things are billed as good for one’s health, costs associated with them are ludicrous, leaving me to wonder how many people can afford them.

I was at the grocery store the other day buying a couple of green bell peppers. I looked up and was startled by the $4 per pound price tag.

A produce worker must have seen the look of astonishment on my face, walking over and telling me that the “regular peppers” had been moved to another area in the produce section. “These are organic ones, they’re more expensive,” he said. “I guess so,” I added.

It seems it doesn’t matter if we’re talking about eggs, bell peppers, pasta, chicken or beef – most people who want to eat organic probably can’t afford it.

Jim Raykie is the editor of The Herald and his column appears on Mondays.

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