|The Back Forty
By Roger Pond
School funding is a long-standing problem for rural communities. Nearly every day we read about schools eliminating sports or shutting down the buses for lack of funds.
Taxes are always a disagreeable subject, but I don’t think I’ll ever vote against a school levy. That’s because I’ll never forget the days of my youth and the school I attended.
It was a good school for that era, and we had some good teachers, but we would have learned more in better facilities.
I grew up in the days when schools were made of brick and plaster. The floors were wooden and sounds carried from one end of the building to the other. Insulation was unheard of.
To top it off, each kid had a big pair of clodhoppers or cowboy boots to clomp around in. Class changes sounded like The Wave at a professional football game.
I don’t know how schools are constructed in the Netherlands, but a kid with wooden shoes would have closed down St. Paris Elementary.
The walls in our school were pretty thin, too. A kid that was really bright, and had good hearing, could complete three grades at once - without leaving his seat.
Reading was taught by phonics in those days. My third grade teacher was an expert at this.
Mrs. Lambert (not her real name) was a little bit deaf and could shout “A - E - I - O - U” in such a way that three janitors learned to read by the sounds coming from the third grade room.
The first thing we learned at my school was the ABCs. Some kids learned the whole alphabet, but most of us just got our ABCs.
At the same time the first graders were learning the ABCs, Mrs. Lambert was giving the third graders their A - E - I - O - Us. If you were standing in the hall or the cloak room, you listened to “A - E - I - O - U - W - X - Y - Z” until you couldn’t remember which grade you were in.
Mrs. Lambert didn’t understand farming and was fond of saying, “You farm kids won’t ever have to worry about jobs or money. When you need some food, all you have to do is go out and kill a pig.”
I can remember standing in the hall, listening to a second grader reading, “Run, Spot, Run!” when suddenly from the third grade Mrs. Lambert shouted, “Go kill a pig.”
Each time I enter a polling booth to vote on a school levy or a bond issue, I think about my old school. Some folks vote for levies because they want smaller classes, more sports, or better computers.
Others want a bigger library and newer books. I’m in favor of all those things.
But most of all, I’d like to see some nice, sturdy walls, with good insulation.
This farm news was published in the May 10, 2006 issue of Farm World.