INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT WHAT THE K-12 SCHOOL IS TEACHING YOUR KIDS, WORRY ABOUT WHAT IT ISN’T

It is a cold October afternoon in 1977. I have just drained the fat off of ground beef that I have browned in a frying pan. I carefully dump it into the casserole dish on top of the cooked and drained elbow macaroni, add in shredded cheddar cheese, a bag of frozen cut green beans, and Mrs. Capcovick’s special sauce. I stir gently, cover the dish with foil, and slide it into a 375 degree oven. In 40 minutes, when my father and brother are home from work, it will be ready for my father, older brother, younger sister, and me to eat for dinner. My mother is already at her job at the Bell Tell switchboard, and will not be home until 1am. My sister is home from school and playing in the living room. I am watching her while I cook. I am 12 years old.

That memory, and that yummy casserole that my family ate many times, was brought to me by my 6th grade home-ec class.

Are you worried that your children are being taught about things they should NOT be taught about in school?

Give it a rest.

Are you worried that your kids will find out that the US was once full of white people who owned slaves, like founding fathers Jefferson and Washington? They already know.

Are you worried that your kids will find out that white racism did terrible things to Black people, and, far too often, still does? They already know this.

Are you worried that your kids, if they are white, will feel badly that white people are sometimes awful to other people because of racism? I am a white person, and I feel badly about this, and I share with my non-white daughter often how ashamed I am of these behaviors, and how imperfect I am at my own reckoning with race. She still loves me, and it’s not bad, feeling bad, and owning that, as a white person, I have a duty to do better. No, I never lynched anyone, and I don’t think anyone in my either immigrant or coal-miner ancestry did either, but I do know that, sometimes, as poor and uneducated as they were, they felt superior due to being white, and said and believed racist things. And for this, I carry shame and sadness, but I still get through my day in a successful way. The fact that I am a product of white people and share the history of racism has not ruined my life. Seriously, all kids know this anyway. Hello, YouTube. If you’re making a mountain out of this molehill you’re both waisting your time, and teaching your kids the wrong thing:

“We don’t look at hard stuff in our pasts (and present) because it makes us feel bad.”

Yeah, don’t teach your kids that. TEACH YOUR KIDS TO DO HARD THINGS. Give them strength and resilience.

AND, give them Mrs. Capcovick.

In 1977, in my middle school, I had math, and science, and English, and social studies, just like my daughter has now. I also had art, and music, and choir, and band could be in there too, and home-ec, and French (or Spanish), and woodshop, and typing, and CPR and first aid, and metal shop, and the dreaded gym class, and guitar lessons, and square dancing, and mechanical drawing, and sewing, and photography, and theater arts, and we also still had recess, and I know there were probably other courses throughout my junior high school experience that I cannot remember. In 1977, between the overlap from when my mom dropped off my little sister with me and went to work, and when my dad and brother came home from work, I made dinner. And often it was Mrs. Capcovicks’ casserole, which I learned in her class in 6th grade. She also taught me to make fettuccine with Alfredo sauce with bacon and peas.

My daughter, in the Cape Henlopen School District in Delaware has math, language arts, social studies, science, band (or choir… kids have to choose 1, and only 1) and, of the 4 quarters in the year, first quarter, gym, second quarter, art, third quarter, health, and fourth quarter, keyboarding. Yup, that’s it.

That is all she is doing.

My daughter is missing out on learning real life skills, like cooking, and having a peek at other things she may have an interest in or aptitude for. All they are doing in the Cape Henlopen School District is teaching the bare minimum to get kids through the standardized tests, and the only after school enrichment they offer is various sports teams.

As a parent, this IS something you should be concerned about.

First of all, these classes that my school district is not teaching are usually hands-on, fun, and engaging. These are nice breaks from the “sit in your chair and think” academic classes. Secondly, these classes offer windows into a world of career possibilities that kids won’t even know about unless they are exposed to them. With a second language you could become an interpreter. With typing you could become a court stenographer. With woodshop you could go into construction. With mechanical drawing: architecture. With sewing: fashion design.

Why aren’t our schools offering these other classes anymore? Have you asked your school district this question?

I also remember, for you parents worried about sex ed, that Mr. Baine, I wanna say, I think it was Baine, taught sex ed. He was super cute and fit, and I had a crush on him, and I remember what he told us about male anatomy. He stood there, with his trim body straight, and put his hands together as if in prayer, and turned that point of the hands down to the floor, and he said, “The penis hangs there like a loaf of Wonder Bread, just hangs there. Unless it is excited.” I was mortified. There were boys in the room too. Mr. Baine said the word penis, and compared it to Wonder Bread. And that is absolutely all I remember about sex ed. Of course, by the time I got into his class, I already knew all about sex, because my mom told me in second grade when I asked. I knew, from second grade on, all about sex, and I never was a pregnant or promiscuous teen. Imagine that.

Wonder Bread, People. Imagine that!

Seriously though, is your school district just getting by, or is it really teaching your kids all about the world, and not just about the basic 4 topics? Ask, and get involved in that. That is something that actually matters. That is something that your kids are losing out on. If you don’t demand it, you will never get it.

Stop shutting down education, and ask for more. Your kids are worth it.

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