Sunday, July 22, 2012

Bak 2 Skool!

I was watching the news the other day, and was shocked to see what it costs to send a child to school these days.  On average, a grade school student requires $474 per year, a middle school student will need $545 in supplies, and a high school student will cost you $1,000!  This is just to go to a school that you pay state and local taxes to attend!  I have to admit, we couldn't afford to send our two children to school these days!  How did this get to be so expensive?   I'm still amazed that class trips end up going to foreign countries for a week or more, and parents have the money to pay for their child to go along.  Is it that they can afford it, or do they do this on credit, paying it back over time?

Life was different when I was growing up.  There was no list of items that the school system demanded you have.  We would take a family trip to the Ben Franklin 5 & and 10 to buy our one folder for 10 cents, a pad of notebook paper, a notebook (if we ruined the one we had the year before), a box of 12 crayons, pencils, an eraser, and a fountain pen.  That was it!  We would get 1 pair of tennis shoes (the "high tops" were more expensive, so we didn't get them),  and perhaps a couple of pairs of pants.  All other clothes were home made, or hand-me-downs, often times from neighbors and relatives. We walked to school, and home for lunch, no matter what the weather was, no buses, nor "Mom Taxis".  Kindergarten was a private school, that cost more than we could afford so we went right to First Grade.
By about 5th grade, the school decided to start a band.  While we were dieing to join and learn to play music, it was just too expensive, a ridiculous cost of $4 a week!

Still, we didn't feel underprivileged in any way.  While we were poorer than most of our classmates, we didn't really feel left out.  It wasn't until High School that we began to feel excluded.  Our school was in a different town, populated by many more affluent families, as well as the surrounding towns.  I remember just how out of place I felt on my first day of school!  Most of my classmates had lived in the city, and seen things I had never even imagined existed.  They wore new expensive clothes, while I wore hand-me-downs,  some kids even had  a transistor radio!  Such things were clearly out of our reach!

However, we got an education, and prepared for life as an adult.  We learned the value of hard work to reach our goals, and how to behave in a public environment.    The school, and our parent's tax dollars, paid for most, if not all, of the required classroom supplies.

So what has happened to education?  What on earth would cost a thousand dollar out of pocket expense to attend a public high school?  Has the world gone crazy?  And what of the parents who can't afford this cost?  Will children be banned from the school because their parents can't afford a new laptop computer each year?  Thankfully, there are groups to help the less than fortunate families to get supplies.
Still, one has to question  the cost of the whole thing.  It seems to be all about the money, as always.  A school is an economic engine, not a place of education!

Shop 'till you drop, and charge it if you don't have the cash.  And no, we will not teach your child to write in cursive!

Sad, isn't it?

©2012 Ornery Arkie Productions.  All rights reserved

Friday, July 6, 2012


This past week, we learned of the passing of one of our generation's icons:  Andy Griffith.    Griffith was best known for his television series depicting life in a rural Southern town called Mayberry.  Andy played the sheriff of the town, who had to dispense not only justice, but infuse the townsfolk with his wisdom. 
The town was inhabited by dozens of quirky characters, who all, at some point, benefited from Griffith's common sense and understanding.

Since his death came during an election year, and since some of the dumbest things I've ever seen are going on in politics, I wonder what would happen if those two far apart worlds were suddenly thrown together..... 

Rod Serling introduces tonight's episode, where the present meets the past.....

Cue the theme song!
The show opens with Deputy Barney Fife chasing down a limousine on a dusty country road.  Light flashing, and siren blaring, Fife pulls behind the offender, who finally slows to a stop.

Fife:    "Step out of the car, feller!"  "Right now!"
Mitt Romney exits the limo with his hands in the air.  He is dressed in an expensive suit, with a gold watch on his wrist.

Mitt:    "Is there a problem deputy?"

Fife:    "You're darned right there's a problem!" 

Fife:    "You were doing twice the speed limit back there!"

Mitt:    "Well I'm very sorry officer, I was on my way to Washington DC.  I'm running for president, you know."

Fife:    "Really?  Well then I'm Cleopatra!!  Get in the back of the squad car!"

The scene fades with the patrol car driving off in a cloud of dust.
Now the camera pans Mayberry's main street, stopping in front of the jail.  The squad car slides to a stop, lights and siren still going. Fife bursts into the office surprising Andy, who is doing paperwork at his desk.

Fife:    "We've got us a law breakin' speeder, Anj!"
Andy looks up to see Mitt in handcuffs standing before him, with Barney eying him suspiciously.

Andy:    "Well I dooo declare, what have we got here, Barn?"

Fife:    "He says he's a runnin' for President, Anj, and he's headed for Washington!"

Andy:    "Well 'scuse me mister, but with that suit on, you look more like you're fixin' to run for undertaker!"

The courtroom door bursts open, and Andy's son Opie enters.

Opie:    "Paw, who ya got there?"

Andy:   "His name's Mitt, son."

Opie:    "You mean like a catcher's mitt, or a first baseman's mitt?  I reckin he could have been named after some other sport.  Heck, paw, he could have been called "Hockey  Puck"!

Andy:    "No son, that was the last president!"

Andy:    "Put him in the cell with Otis, Barn, until I can sort this all out." 

Barney takes the handcuffs off Romney, and locks him in the cell with the town drunk, Otis Campbell.

Otis:    "Am I dead?  Andy, help me, the undertaker's here!!!"

Andy:    "Naw, you ain't dead Otis, this here's Mr. Romney, and he's fixin' to run for presi-dent!"

Otis:    "What happened to Eisenhower?"

Mitt:    "You know sheriff, you have a 4 cell jail with only one cell utilized.  It's a waste of resources!  If I were you, I'd hire a corporation to come in and run things!"  "They would pay you money for the prisoners they housed.  All you would have to do is just arrest a certain number of offenders per week in order to get paid."

Andy:    "What, I have to arrest innocent people?"

Mitt:    "It's all business, sheriff.  As long as the corporation makes money, everyone benefits."  "Besides, corporations are people!"

The door opens, and in walks Aunt Bea with a freshly baked cherry pie.

Bea:  "Oh dear; Andy, there's an undertaker in the cell with Otis.   Is Otis dead??"

Andy:    "Naw Ain't Bea, this here's Mr. Mitt, and he's telling me how to make money off our prisoners."  "He says we need to have more!"

Bea:    "But Andy, you only have Otis as a regular prisoner, where would you get the rest?"

Andy looks at the empty jail cells, and then at Aunt Bea............

Andy:    "Well Ain't Bea, I might have to book you in to keep up our revi-new!"

Aunt Bea drops the pie, and runs out of the courthouse.

Andy:    "Well Mr. Mitt, you have shore upset Ain't Bea with your idea!  Is that what you're fixin to do if you get to be presi-dent?"  "You know, if corporations are people, serial killers are people too.  I wouldn't want to live near nether one!"

Mitt:    "It's good for business, good for the economy, and good for the corporation, sheriff.  If a company took over, you could even retire.....  without pay, of course."  "The company would patrol the streets, arresting offenders, and trumping up charges if need be.  As long as the jail is full, the company would make a profit."

Andy:    "Well, If I don't get paid to retire, than what becomes of me?"  "I'll be penniless!"

Mitt looks over at the empty cells smirking...

Mitt:    "Well sheriff...."

Andy:    "No suh!  I'm the sheriff, not some vagrant!"  "You sure don't know what life is like here.  We' sure don't need no corporation running things!  We're happy just as we are!"  "Let me finish your paperwork, and Barney will take you to the edge of town and drop you off.  I don't want to see you, or you cor-po-ration anywhere near these parts!"

Mitt pays his fine, and Barney loads him back into the squad car.  The squad pulls away from the courthouse with tires squealing.

Opie:    "That man sure is strange, paw!  I reckon if he gets to be president, we're all gonna be in trouble!"  "I sure don't want to be some corporation!"

Andy:    "Don't worry son, I told Barney to drop him off at the edge of town.  I just didn't say which town!"

The scene fades out, while a far off shot  of the Mayberry squad car fades in.  It's snowing heavily as Barney opens the rear door.

Barney:    "Well here you go, Mr. corporation, welcome to Timbuktu.  Now get out and get lost!"

The show ends with Mitt standing in a snow drift trying to get a signal on his cell phone, while Andy, Barney, Aunt Bea, and Opie share that Cherry pie with Otis.

Andy:    "I sure hope them corporate raiders never take over America!  What a mess we would be in if they did!"

Otis:    "I'll drink to that!"

Fade out......

R. I. P. Andy Griffith, we will sure miss you!

© 2012 Ornery Arkie Productions  All rights reserved