As I sit here on the eve of the first day of school, which has crept earlier and earlier each August until it seems as though the 4th of July is closer than Labor Day, it occurs to me that the local School Boards may be suffering from an embarrassing affliction. I know it’s not quite PC or appropriate to discuss outside of AM radio talk show commercials and creepy email spam, but I think there’s a rampant case of premature education going on around here.
It only takes a simple Google clip art image search of the words, “Back to School” with its apple-laden, fall-leaf-wreathed chalkboards and discounted plaid wool skirts with turtlenecks turned up to earlobes covered by fur-lined ski caps to confirm that the web–which is World Wide I remind you–universally accepts the fact that the First Day of School is an autumnal event.
And though I am not Julius Caesar, I maintain that August, and certainly July, land squarely in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer, and therefore, by its very position in the space-time continuum, charted latitudes and longitudes, maritime tides, and proximity to the solstices and several Independence Days, both foreign and domestic; are historically, meteorologically, ill-timed months to resume scholastic endeavors.
In other words, you may be pulling the trigger a little too early, Board of Education.
August 7th was our start date this year. This is actually a week later than most of the schools around us, so I guess I should feel lucky. The earth has had seven more days in which to retain summer temperatures approaching triple digits.
Clearly there is some confusion on the Board with regard to an appropriate First Day of School. As the helpful citizen that I am, I would like to provide this brief tutorial to school planners to consider when they prepare next year’s calendar so they are not, once again, subject to this embarrassing and inconvenient problem.
If you start school before your state’s tax-free holiday on school supplies even begins, you may be guilty of premature education.
If playground balls fuse to the blacktop in the blistering heat, it may be a sign of premature education.
If the first holiday off you have after the first day of school is a Christmas in July mattress sale, it just may be evidence of premature education.
If parents are confused on whether the first day is a start date or an end date to the school year, well, it just may be a textbook case of premature education.
If you have to pack zinc oxide and salt tablets in your child’s lunchbox, chances are pretty good you’re prematurely educating.
If your child’s “school bus” has a freezer on board, plays “Pop goes the Weasel” and serves Push-ups from a side window, premature education could be to blame.
If your official school uniform includes flip flops and a panama hat, methinks it clearly is premature education.
If math class is taught in SPF values, you know…
If students have completed all of the material in their textbooks before they’ve chosen a Halloween costume, premature education should be considered.
If your child was born under the zodiacal sign of cancer and has to bring in birthday cupcakes for his classmates, talk to your doctor about premature education.
If your child has ever brought a watermelon for a teacher on the first day instead of an apple because that’s the only fruit in season, education prematurely could be the culprit.
If there has ever been a wave runner in your school carline, there’s no shame in admitting your premature education.
If your child is taught how to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius and Celsius to Kelvin to record the average temperature during science class; well, just sayin’.
If your child has ever had to write a paper on Bastille Day due on Bastille Day; ahem.
And finally, if as part of their emergency planning your school regularly conducts Sharknado drills; I rest my case.
You’re welcome. Now everyone is satisfied.
©2013 Tracey Henry
School Night Panko-Crusted Chicken Cutlets
These are simple to make on a weeknight, but can easily be dressed up or down for your family’s tastes.
Chicken cutlets (you can buy the cutlets, or cut boneless skinless breast or fillets in half and pound to a thin cutlet)
2 eggs (or more)
1 cup Panko (or more)
salt and pepper
1.) Set up a breading station of the flour seasoned with salt and pepper, the eggs beaten with a little water, and a plate of the panko.
2.) Heat a non-stick pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. You may have to re-oil in between batches, so don’t put the bottle away. Preheat the oven to 350°.
3.) Bread each cutlet by first dredging through the seasoned flour, then the egg wash, and finally evenly coating with the panko. Do 3 or 4 cutlets and place them in the pan. Do not overcrowd–do in batches if necessary.
4.) Cook the cutlets about 2-3 minutes per side, just to give a nice brown color. Try to only flip once to preserve the panko crust. When golden brown, remove from pan and place in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet in the oven to finish cooking, and while you cook the next batch.
5.) Continue with all the cutlets and bake in the oven another 10 minutes or so until they reach 165° internally and no longer pink. By finishing in the oven, you still get a properly cooked chicken but the crust is still crispy and golden rather than charred.
6.) Serve either as is, or top with a handful of arugula tossed with Dijon-lemon vinaigrette–it gives a nice freshness and bite to the simple cutlet.