I’m not a teacher, but I work at a university, and Xy is a teacher in the New Orleans Public Schools, and we live just a block from Warren Easton High School. All of which means that my life is subject to the cycles of the academic calendar. During the summer, I get in the habit of sleeping in late and coming home for lunch. I get lazy. During the school year, I get up early, exercise more often, cook all our meals, do all the grocery shopping, make lunches for both of us, and so many other things that go with that routine.
Today is the first day of classes here in New Orleans. Our alarm was set for 5:45 a.m., but we didn’t really get up until 6 a.m.. I made oatmeal and coffee for Xy. (I’m still on iced tea myself, and of course I had a bowl of Kellogg’s All Bran Extra Fiber.) I read the paper while Xy took a bath. According to a story in the local section, the superintendent is repeating last year’s “Answer the Bell” campaign. Across the city, the general public is exhorted to make some noise at 8 a.m., to promote awareness that school is back in session. This may seem like a strange ritual, but many kids don’t make it to school here until after Labor Day, or even into October. It’s like a tradition for many families. Do other cities have this problem?
(A bunch of kids from across the street are up bright and early, all in their uniforms, which are required by all the public schools.)
The school system here is not great; in fact, it’s famously bad. And some people say that education is just a form of social control. Xy has had many misgivings about this career choice, and so have I; it’s not easy being married to a teacher. But education is still the best chance many of these kids have to escape the poverty into which they are born, so it’s hard for me to be too cynical about school.
Here’s hoping for a good school year.