Better Than This
Caity Cronkhite

A Letter to Miss Caity (because this seemed a bit extravagant for Facebook)


This was my initial response after reading your latest post:

‘The small amount of actual substance in this post was completely eclipsed by your raging pity party, most of which is complete rubbish. Honestly, it is a load of fictionalized twaddle presented as fact. While I won’t deny that our education has been flawed, this is a dramatization, the impressions of an adolescent, and you should present it as such. If you wanted your opinion on our education system to be heard and taken seriously, you have missed the mark. Simultaneously, you have insulted the many educators (along with the friends) who once supported you. You said it yourself: you aren’t better than anyone else.’

In hindsight, I’m glad I did not post that when I wrote it (albeit I am posting it now.) Like many of the other comments you have been receiving, it was written mostly out of defense and personal hurt. While I stand by some of my original sentiment, I realize now that you were conveying your own perspective as a story, not necessarily to-the-letter fact. I’m not talking about the statistics others have pointed out. To be honest, I am not bothered whether they are true or not. But statements about the friends who told you that it was social suicide to go to science camp or about our arts classes evaporating bothered me. Did our high school turn into an episode of Glee without my realizing? Maybe I am wrong, but I see these as gross exaggerations. I suppose they were made to express how confined you felt more than they conveyed the actual fact of the situation in our high school. Thinking of these generalizations from this perspective, the post seems a bit more valid to me, for all that is worth.

And yes, I felt particularly hurt by them because I considered you one of my closest friends in high school. This hurt was multiplied by the knowledge that you felt you could not share any of these sentiments with me at the time. I can’t blame you, of course, for your choice not to do so, but I thought it was relevant to say since it contributed to the creation of the rash statement above. I’d also like to take the opportunity to applaud the vulnerability of sharing these sentiments in a public forum as you have.

Still, I believe your post displays what I see as a true plague on our educational system. Whatever your experience has been, I cannot believe that you have not been supported, encouraged, and helped by the teachers and faculty in the Covington Community school system. Of course, we liked them and connected with them in varying degrees. Some I considered great. I think others did too, including you, yet these teachers are overlooked in your writing. In my anything-but-expert opinion, teachers are all too often demonized (lacking a more appropriate word) and blamed for the failings of others: the failings of our government, our students, our parents, our culture. There are plenty of failings from teachers too, but surely they shoulder too much of this blame. I cannot imagine any job that is harder, any that is more important, or any that is less appreciated. We often regard our failings as theirs while somehow withholding acknowledgement for their contribution to our successes.

I admit that I did not appreciate my teachers nearly enough until my mother became one. Seeing exactly how hard she worked, the toll it took on her stress levels, the sheer number of hours she poured into her lessons, the impossible goals she was given, and all the bureaucratic hoops she had to jump through in order to do her job gave me an incredible appreciation for the educators that guided me while I was in school. I could never have imagined how difficult it can be to do their job well.

It is made even more difficult when this effort goes unnoticed time and time again. While teachers are quite literally put in charge of our country’s future for seven hours a day, they are often portrayed as less skilled and less adequate than other professionals with the same amount of education and experience. The adage ‘those who can’t do, teach’ has become ingrained in our culture. This is the mentality we present those who, in my opinion, have the most important job of any: shaping the following generations. I am not attempting to be sentimental. It seems such an obvious fact that our future will be most affected by those shaping our current youth. Yet we show them so little respect and so little appreciation where appreciation is due.

I know not all teachers are as hardworking as my mother. I’m sure many of them cut corners and put in less effort after years of experience, but we must not let these examples overshadow the great teachers who are still putting in enormous efforts. What other encouragement can we offer those fighting this uphill battle for us? I agree that Covington schools have their issues and that Indiana certainly does, but that does not excuse the blatant misrepresentations you have made here.

I realize that this issue was probably not foremost in your mind when writing this article. It is often easier to dwell on our sour experiences, rather than those that are positive, particularly when they affected you so greatly. It seems to me that you were trying to convey your impressions as you felt and remembered them, and little more. But I feel some further recognition is owed to the educators who helped us to achieve what we have. I think it is safe to say that none of us have achieved success solely through our own efforts, despite how our memories may twist the facts.


I’d like to add that I don’t claim to be a writer, so please don’t pick on my spelling, grammar, etc. Please just take the thoughts into consideration.

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