Time for School, Suckers!

27 Aug

“School’s back,” the grocer bellowed with excitement, eying the poster board in my hand. 

He waited for an AMEN from me, assuming me to be an equally excited parent ready to thrust my brats  into the nearest yellow school bus. I shook my head and laughed.

In my home, the first day of school was always Christmas without the tree, a sacred ritual of new beginnings, fresh starts and unsharpened pencils. The night before I tossed and turned in anticipation, always woke up super early eager to show off my new clothes and supplies. This year, though I’m years removed from yellow school buses and uniforms and dread the return of school zones, that same back-to-school anticipation still runs through my home.

My parents are both public schoolteachers. They headed back last week to dress their rooms for the new arrivals. After a summer of late nights and naps, they’ve both started waking up at the crack of dawn so tomorrow won’t come as quite a shock. Last Friday, they joined thousands of fellow school teachers at a massive rally to get them revved for class.

The only missing are the kids.              

Hard to believe, but, apparently, 25 percent of students skip the first week of school. Their parents use Labor Day as the hallmark of summer’s official end and wait until after the holiday to usher their lads and lasses into the halls of academia. This year, though, reluctant moms and dads may think twice. Dallas’ public school district is raffling off 5 $500 gift cards and 10 $100 gift cards to kids present on the first day of class.

The odds are horrible—there are 157,000 students in the district—but for that lucky 15 the first day of class will truly be special. The bribes are an investment: Absent kids mean lost money for districts on the weighted average attendance model of funding. Other districts have adopted similar techniques to encourage attendance: One offered a car to seniors with perfect attendance. Back in my day (ahem—yeah, I’m doing it), we had songs, not dough,to inspire us to go to class. This classic was blasted in snippets over local radio stations:


Along with this one:

But to each his own. Wishing all the students, teachers and parents a wonderful school year. Feel free to add your own school favorites below.


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