In advance of tomorrow's long awaited return to school, I list a few of the innovations in my kids' schools that I didn't have when I was their age. They have:
- a security guard, posted at the gate, ready to tackle a suicide bomber if needed.
- a schedule for the year that isn't actually known until a letter is handed out the first day of class. Gives us parents lots of time to arrange carpools and babysitters.
- early Tuesdays that end around 1pm, unlike the other days. It helps keep parents on their toes and prevent complacent carpool schedules.
- no cafeteria: kids eat where they can find a spot.
- no lockers or desks. Even little first graders walk around with their entire inventory of books and papers on their backs.
- multiple teachers and multiple rooms starting in the first grade. I remember the familiarity of a single teacher, all day, every day, until the sixth grade.
- no vending machines for candy and cola. What do these kids eat? (Actually I know that one: chocolate spread sandwiches).
- a toilet-paper surcharge for pre-elementary kids. I shudder to think what happens in the poorer neighborhoods that can't afford this one.
- no bell to announce the start of school and "passing periods" (supposed to be known as recess in elementary school). Instead they pipe "Fur Elise" through the Public Address system. That really gets 'em running.
- 39 kids in a 1st grade class, but we're told that won't happen again as that class moves to second grade this year.
Of course the biggest difference is that my kids learn everything in Hebrew, which renders me pretty useless except for symbolic math questions.