Let us first establish this much: I respect teachers.
No, I love them.
The most influential people in my life have been teachers, a couple of whom I actually credit with turning my life around and saving me from myself.
OK, now having said that, let me just add that boards of education, on the other hand, can be another matter entirely.
You catch the headline in yesterday's newspaper?
"Fractious TPS board remains without mediator."
Maybe it's just me, but come on - doesn't it seem even a little peculiar that a school board that consists of five members votes unanimously to - oh, how best to put this? - mediate itself?
Oh, and yeah: Three of the board members are newbies who took office only last month.
Please. I beg you. Think about this.
An essentially brand-new board, not even two whole months old, already needs someone to come in and teach it how to play nice and work well with one another?
This sounds more like a situation suited for a kind-but-firm preschool teacher.
A mediator? Eh, maybe not so much.
Couldn't help myself. Had to call Darlene Fisher, the board's new president, and ask - well, ask for what, exactly?
I started with a fundamental question: Why would the school board need a professional mediator?
"Actually," Ms. Fisher said (and I swear I could hear the high-pitched hum as she activated the Deflector Shields that rose up around her), "you should call Ms. [Deborah] Barnett. She introduced the resolution."
Yes, yes, I said. But since Ms. Fisher is the board president, and she did in fact vote for the resolution, was it not appropriate to put the question to her?
"Any time we have additional assistance," Ms. Fisher said, "it's a good idea.
"The history of this is that that was a board resolution Ms. Barnett [the vice president] brought forth without sharing it with all of the board members," she said. "We had a short time to look at it."
Well, OK. But what can a mediator do for the school board?
"I think any time you can open up conversation and have an honest dialogue, it's always a good situation, no matter what."
Hmm. Agreed. Hard to argue with that. In fact, I too love mom 'n' apple pie.
But it would be awful to have to wait for a mediator, so in the interest of the public good, I offer my Top Five Suggestions For Being Nice, as best as I remember them from my daughter's preschool years.
No. 1 - Always say "please."
No. 2 - Always say "thank you."
No. 3 - If you can't say anything nice about somebody, don't say anything at all.
No. 4 - Remember to share.
No. 5 - Never hit each other. No, I mean that figuratively, too.