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Kids should go to school 24/7, 365 days of the year

August 21, 2013

Believe it or not — and you probably will — humor does not come naturally to me.

This dates back to the first joke I ever told in front of a live audience, which occurred outside a public schoolhouse in 1967.

The joke went like this: You would ask some stooge if his dad was a mailman. Of course, he would say no, and open himself up to peals of laughter and ridicule when you make it clear that the question was really,

“Is your dad a MALE man?”

Naturally, this joke is steeped in layers of complexity and sophistication that only a 7-year-old can appreciate.

So, standing in a circle of boys, I asked the most likely dupe the question.

Well, my luck, this kid’s dad actually was a mailman.

So he says “yes,” and I say “What?” “Yes, he is a mailman,” the kid says.

And then I turn into the idiot, because all the boys are standing there looking at me, wondering out loud why I would care what this kid’s old man does for a living.

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It was then and there that I gave up on a career in stand-up comedy and chose writing instead, where one has far greater control over his environment.

The fact that I remember this vignette 45 years after the fact should tell you something about the psychological scars it created. I can also trace it back to the day I began to aggressively hate school.

The first swear words I ever used were directed toward the yellow bus as it ambled down the hill at 7:12 in the morning. I was pretty sure I was going to burn for that one, but I did not care. How was God going to become aware of the injustice if I did not use emphasis?

So I would have been all for this recent move in Maryland toward starting school later in the year. At least I would have up until I graduated, at which point I began to advocate for year-around school.

Funny how your perspective can change in the time it takes you to walk across a stage. I didn’t want little kids under my feet all summer any more than any other crabby, childless adult.

And really, it’s not like kids need to stay home in the summer anymore to get in the wheat crop. Make ’em go to school 12 months a year until they’ve caught up to the Koreans, then we’ll reassess. Now there’s an incentive to learn.

But no, we’re looking at starting the school year later on the sound reasoning that it would be good for Ocean City. (Well come on, it’s not like kids’ families will vacation in Washington County the last week of August to read the historical marker in Pecktonville.)

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said delaying the school year will generate $74.3 million, including an added $3.7 million in wages — which is good, because little Chauncy will need all the practice he can get selling saltwater taffy, since that’s the kind of job he can expect unless we start adding to the school year instead of subtracting.

Yes, I know, we’ll still get our precious 180 instructional days, 179 of which are spent boning up for standardized tests that contribute nothing to Franchot’s economic nirvana.

And call me crazy, but wouldn’t the families that vacationed on the last week of August just be postponing a vacation that they previously would have taken on the next to the last week in August?

Further, speaking for myself and probably about a zillion other people without children, I always wait to take vacation until after the kids are back in school — mostly for the relative peace and quiet it affords.

So subtract my $850 from the $74.3 million, and all of a sudden things don’t look quite as rosy, do they?

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com.

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