Accountability

Millions of children are packing up their notebooks and chrome books into backpacks and heading back to school. Teachers too. In my house the morning alarm is back on and travel mugs are in use. Accountability has returned. Perhaps just in time as summer always brings out my every delicious lazy quality. Maybe for your school age children too? Those of us in the building face deadlines and due dates, eligibility requirements and tardy consequences. After two years of COVID interruptions, these restrictions will feel like a straight jacket for some, but for others there will finally be a comfort in having structure back in place. The pendulum is swinging back, at least in our school district, with many reporting issues, of course the humorous irony is how accountability feels like a rarity in many of the political figures central to our lives right now. Wouldn’t you agree?

Hard to teach honesty and responsibility when an ex-President “took more than 700 pages of classified documents, including some related to the nation’s most covert intelligence operations, to his private club and residence in Florida” and is oblivious that his behavior is devoid of accountability (Feuer). No, no worries, I will not launch off on a tirade of that shoddy businessman’s ineptitude, for his every action has proven that fact far better than I could address. But it does make for a precedent that is problematic when trying to discuss what trust means to a class of 14 year olds. Or citizenship. Or morality. Or even the concept that if you work hard, stay true to your own nature, care about your fellow humans along the way, all will be rewarded. They ask: What about when a police officer is not held accountable for their murder of an unarmed black teen? Or when elected officials cast votes based on their own religious beliefs instead of our Constitution? Or when an ex President condemns the FBI for doing their job? Or, as my dear brother points out, when journalists strive to uncover hard truths and face ridicule? Teaching since January 2017 has been challenging on the day to day, and it continues.

In my school we are working very hard to persuade students to put their phones away for a few hours to focus on new learning. We are up against far more enticing gossip, marketers who know a cash-cow of a generation with they spot one, parents who demand their child be accessible at all times, TicTok and Snapchat with their inane and absolutely spellbinding videos, I mean, really, it is a near impossible task. But your public school teachers are attempting it, with all the accountability their administration will support. Do me a favor, talk to your children about what is really going on with their cell phones, which really shouldn’t actually be called phones since that is the very last function that they utilize on that device. If you haven’t read FEED or imagined the trajectory that we are on, I recommend it. My English 9 students will have a copy in their hands shortly.

Of course there is plenty to be considering these days, from how you commute to how you throw out your trash. Cheers to California for their stance on electric vehicles. Cheers to Vermont for their laws on food waste. Cheers to everyone who is buying local and shutting off the taps sooner and thinking about our still so beautiful Earth. If there is anywhere we can add accountability to our consumerism, let’s agree to do it, yes?

We each can make our small worlds better by considering community needs. A self-directed carry in and carry out commitment would make for enjoyment for all. If we take that philosophy into our own minds, we must give the very love we wish to receive. Substitute any attribution into that sentence and the cycle is the same. You reap what you sow. At least, it seems so for most folks.

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