By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on August 13, 2022)
Pfft. Wow. That was a quick friggin’ summer.
Yes, I am aware that it’s only mid-August…but students are already heading back to the classroom in some parts of the country. And watching the news lately, you would think the kids are in for a Lord of the Flies scenario:
Students across the country are heading back to school. Will there be enough teachers waiting for them?
ABC’s World News Tonight claimed that there was a “teacher shortage crisis.” The Washington Post described a “catastrophic teacher shortage.” Some local school officials say hiring this summer has been particularly difficult.
But some researchers have been skeptical, saying that the data does not support these claims and that shortages are limited to certain schools and subjects.
So what do we know? Are teachers really leaving in droves? Will more classes begin the year led by substitutes? Did the pandemic exacerbate these issues?
What is this…a pop quiz? I don’t even have my pencil ready. Please…do continue.
Definitive data is limited, and school hasn’t started yet in much of the country. To date, there is little firm evidence to support claims of an unprecedented crisis. When American students return to school, the vast majority will be greeted by a classroom teacher.
But the ingredients — high levels of teacher stress, more teaching positions to fill, a long-term decline in people training to become teachers, and competition from jobs outside schools — are there for it to be a harder than normal year for recruiting teachers. High-poverty schools in particular will face familiar challenges staffing their classrooms with skilled teachers.
“Is there a national teacher shortage? I think the reality is more nuanced,” said David Rosenberg, who works with district officials across the country through the nonprofit Education Resource Strategies. “And in some places, heck yeah.”
Anyway. As great poets have said…autumn is over the long leaves that love us, yesterday is dead (but not in my memory), and it’s late September and I really should be back at school.
Well, not literally (I’m a little old for home room)…but my school days of yesteryear are not necessarily dead in my memory. I feel like I have to go to bed early now. Some habits die hard.
So here’s a back-to-school playlist that doesn’t include “The Wall” or “School’s Out” (don’t worry, you’ll get over it). Pencils down, pass your papers forward, and listen up…
“Alma Mater” – Alice Cooper
Hey, remember the time – ‘member the time
We took that snake
And put down little Betsy’s dress?
Now I don’t think Miss Axelrod
Was much impressed
Oh, Alice. You should be on the stage.
“At 17” – Janis Ian
Emo before it had a name:
To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball
Remember, Happy Days was just a TV show.
“Cinnamon Street” – Roxette
Growing up on Cinnamon Street
Everywhere you look there are lots of people to meet
It’s seven o’clock, the breakfast treat
Now the school bus is here, hurry up and grab a seat
Per Gessele is an underrated songwriter. A lovely sense memory from the Swedish pop-rock duo. Sadly, Marie Fredriksson passed away in 2019.
“ELO Kiddies” – Cheap Trick
So you missed some school?
You know school’s for fools
Today money rules
And everybody steals it
That’s enough out of you, you little truants!
“Me & Julio Down by the Schoolyard” – Paul Simon
The mama looked down and spit on the ground
Every time my name gets mentioned
The papa said, “Oy, if I get that boy
I’m gonna stick him in the house of detention”
“My Old School” – Steely Dan
Another enigmatic narrative from Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, featuring some of Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s finest fretwork.
Well, I did not think the girl
Could be so cruel
And I’m never going back
To my old school
“Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” – The Ramones
Halfway through my list, I’m thinking: Did any of these people pay attention in class?
Well, I don’t care about history
Rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
‘Cause that’s not where I wanna be
Rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
I just wanna have some kicks
I just wanna get some chicks
Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock ‘n’ roll high school
“School” – Supertramp
One of Roger Hodgson’s finer compositions. Ennio Morricone’s school days.
I can see you in the morning when you go to school
Don’t forget your books, you know you’ve got to learn the golden rule,
Teacher tells you stop your play and get on with your work
And be like Johnnie-too-good, well don’t you know he never shirks
He’s coming along
“School Days” – Chuck Berry
Hail hail to the chief. Pure rock ‘n’ roll poetry.
Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the golden rule
American history and practical math
You studyin’ hard and hopin’ to pass
Workin’ your fingers right down to the bone
And the guy behind you won’t leave you alone
“Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room” – Brownsville Station
I miss Cub Koda.
Sitting in the classroom, thinking it’s a drag
Listening to the teacher rap, just ain’t my bag
The noon bells rings, you know that’s my cue
I’m gonna meet the boys on floor number two!
“Status Back Baby” – Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention
I think Frank needs to go to the councilor’s office for a pep talk. Wah wah wah wah.
The other night we painted posters
We played some records by the coasters
Wah wah wah wah
A bunch of pom-pom girls
Looked down their nose at me
They had painted tons of posters, I had painted three
I hear the secret whispers everywhere I go
My school spirit is at an all time low
“Teacher Teacher” – Rockpile
OK, it’s only analogous to the school experience. But hey…we never stop learning.
Young love, young pet
Cheeks flushing, apple red
Ringing you every day
Begging for a word of praise
I’ve put aside my foolish games
I run and hide and callin’ names
Miles out, the bells are ringin’
Now’s the time to teach me everything
“Thirteen” – Big Star
Won’t you let me walk you home from school?
Won’t you let me meet you at the pool?
Maybe Friday I can
Get tickets for the dance
And I’ll take you, ooh-ooh
“To Sir, With Love” – Lulu
Ode to a mentor.
A friend who taught me right from wrong
And weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn
What, what can I give you in return?
“Wind-up” – Jethro Tull
An English schoolboy who (I sense) has a problem with authority figures.
When I was young and they packed me off to school
And taught me how not to play the game
I didn’t mind if they groomed me for success
Or if they said that I was just a fool
So I left there in the morning
With their God tucked underneath my arm
Their half-assed smiles and the book of rules