Friday, November 27, 2009


Yesterday I had Thanksgiving dinner with my son Charles and daughter-in-law Becky. I went to their house that they recently bought in Brooklyn Center. All I had to bring was my special pumpkin pie with a layer of cream cheese. I make this every year.  After 40 years of making Thanksgiving dinner, I finally got to rest while they did all the work. They're fantastic!

They have HD TV and DirecTV on a large screen, so I had fun channel surfing. I found one that was playing segments from the old Dean Martin Variety Show. Everyone I remember from a long, long time ago was on it. Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Johnny Carson, Red Skeleton, Bing Crosby, Betty White, Dom DeLuise, Burt Reynolds, Florence Henderson (the Brady Bunch), and the list goes on. I used to watch that show. It ran from 1965 to 1974.

We had a wonderful dinner with turkey, jellied cranberry slices, cranberry bread, vegetable medley with cheese sauce, homemade stuffing (Becky used my recipe that I passed on to her), sweet potatoes with pineapple, baked potatoes and dinner rolls. Even George got a plate. George is their dog. He's ten years old.

Of course we got into a political discussion. Charles is basically a Democrat. Becky says she's an Independent voter. Neither of them have ever voted Republican, though. I raised Charles right!

They both agreed that the only thing they have against Democrats is the education issue. Charles graduated from Irondale High School in 1997. I can't remember if Becky graduated the same year or the following year (my memory is going...). Their biggest gripe is that crappy teachers can't get fired because of tenure and because of the teachers' union. I told them that when I was in high school in the 1960's (White Bear Lake, class of 1968), we didn't have crappy teachers. Minnesota's educational system was among the best in the nation, if not the world. In Minnesota, the White Bear Lake School District was among the best.

What happened? All three of us agreed that it's not that way anymore. Much of it is because of lack of funding, but the other part is that teachers can get away without doing their jobs. Sure, there's still plenty of fine teachers, but there's also a lot who don't enjoy it and aren't good at it. Charles and Becky told of teachers who came in the room, put on a movie for the kids to watch, then left the room or sat there and played solitaire. I remember my youngest son, Marcus, who also graduated from Irondale, had a math teacher who had to keep going next door to ask another teacher how to do a math problem.

Charles pointed out that the Democrats won't do a thing about this because of the teachers' union. Unions mean money for Democrats. What can be done about this? We have got to improve our educational system. We need to put it back to its former standards of excellence. Schools need to provide a broad curriculum again. Many schools no long offer foreign language classes, journalism, creative writing and other classes that make learning fun. Many districts have had to cut a lot of the extracurricular activities as well. This is not acceptable. We live in a global community now. Most of our kids are ill prepared to contribute to it.

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