Trust in Education

About 50 years ago, a small town school burned to the ground. With no fire-fighting equipment in the town, the fire trucks had to come from about 10 miles away, and there was no stopping the flames in the beautiful old building. Only two weeks into the fall semester, the students and teachers had no place to go.

Through cooperation with two churches in town (the only two with adequate buildings), there was only a brief break in classes, and grades 7-12 went in one building and 1-6 in the other. Cramped at times, but all worked together to get through the remaining fall and then spring semesters.

Meanwhile, work began on a new building to house all 12 grades, and that building was finished in time for the next fall semester. As a second-grader, I had no idea of the efforts that went into the make-do facilities, and the building of the new one, but I know it was done. The superintendent who oversaw all that was my dad.

I do know two things about that time, though. One, the school did not act as if it owned the children. They belonged to the parents. In an agricultural environment, the fall semester always had a period of time when we only went to school 1/2 day for awhile. Later I realized why. It was harvest season, and many of the kids were also family farm hands. If my dad had not given parents their kids for a half day, he would likely not have gotten them at all during harvest. They worked together. The second thing I noticed was that there was a continued focus on the education of the children which gained trust with the parents. That was when education was more about educating kids than about experimentation with their lives.

Some good things have changed since those times, and some things that I wish were the same.

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