Our Back to School issues in the Conejo Valley and Malibu to Palisades feature educators who have been recognized and honored as Teacher of the Year in their communities. Shannon Baranski and Madeline Walker have much to be proud of.

They and their fellow educators help prepare the young people who represent the future of our nation. As parents we entrust teachers, administrators and schools, both public and private, with our kids. We expect our kids to learn math, English, science, history, the arts and very importantly how to behave in the microcosm example of our greater society that the school represents. That’s a big job. Frankly, one that is often undervalued as a profession, undervalued in reasonable compensation and sometimes not respected when we consider what is asked of them.

Given the fact that I was a classic underachiever throughout my 16 years of formal education, it is kind of ironic that I have been close to educators and higher education most of my life. My daughter and son-in-law are college professors and my ex-wife taught high school in Irvine until she retired. There are master’s and PhDs scattered around the family, which includes my other two kids. Plenty of blood, sweat and tears and a lot of money went into all that education and it was worth it. As a parent I was very good at “don’t do as I did, do as I say,”

Frankly, even though we really strained to cover the cost of all that education (scholarships, grants and loans helped), I would have to say my kids were privileged. We and our readers live in the kind of affluent communities that make the opportunity available. However, as a local community and in a larger sense as a country, we should always strive to make the money and resources also within reach to young people who grow up in very diverse and far less affluent circumstances. There are engineers, doctors, artists, inventors, leaders among them and we cannot overlook them and waste their talent.

The bell just rang. Time to go to class!