Kids understand it early. Adults not as much. It’s a lesson that gets blurred somewhere in the teen years, then relearned in late adulthood.

The lesson is knowing the difference between what people say and what people do. The older I get, the less patience I have for promises. I rarely listen to anything said on the campaign trail and have no expectations when my kids tell me they’re going to clean their rooms.

Talk is cheap. The best indicator of future performance is past behavior. I’ll believe it when I see it, not when I hear it. Yes, I’m cynical, but I have a lengthy track record of broken promises on which to fall back for support. As an example, I was told last year that the district’s website page acknowledging and honoring those students who chose to serve our country in the armed forces would be back up. It is not.

You have that list of broken promises, too. But it’s your faith in people that causes you to ignore the obvious.

These days, the administration and the school board club have their underwear in a twist over Swun Math. They’ve suddenly realized that hey, it’s got problems! So what’s different about the Swun Math from three years ago and Swun Math today? Nothing, save for the countless kids who’ve had to endure this mess and may have had their education shortchanged by mismanagement and egos.

Nothing is different – it’s the same flawed program that it was three years ago. So why is it suddenly on the bargaining table? Because the tidal wave of protests is too overwhelming to ignore and because it’s an election year. Oh, yeah, that.

Election years are funny things. All of a sudden, politicians are nicer. They’re available to meet and have only kind words for parental concern and admiration for their interest in the community and blah, blah, blah. But at the end of the day, it’s just more talk.

The Swun Math replacement program is being teed up and will be ready to roll out in January. There are people who believe that our teachers can pull it off, but you won’t see a single school board club member put any serious pressure on the superintendent to get this done (big emphasis on the serious).

(BTW, that’s the superintendent who answers to the board, even though it seems their rubber stamping makes it seem the other way around.)

Instead, there will be more foot dragging, perhaps another survey, and more excuses about why something can’t be done instead of discussion on how it can. To this, I offer a saying that was told to me many years ago: “If you think it can’t be done, get out of the way of those who think it can.”

I think it can be done. So do the parents leading the charge and so do our teachers. There is no downside to replacing Swun Math by January, the worst case being that we have a flawed program, which is what we have now.

This could be one of those “amazing breakthroughs” in which the superintendent believes so much. Remember that? It was about a year ago that the superintendent exhorted teachers to to achieve an “amazing breakthrough” and magically get underperforming elementary school kids to read at grade level in less than four months. There was no plan to achieve this, no additional resources offered, just a wish.

Well, if he believed teachers could pull that off, he can believe they can replace Swun Math by January. And this time, there is a plan. It should be noted that this plan was not crafted by any member of the school board club or any overpaid bureaucrat in the administration. This is a bootstrap program created by parents and teachers that deserves implementation now, not next school year.

So when you attend next week’s school board club meeting and you hear the bureaucrats and club members express concern and talk about due diligence and process and standards all the other excuses, remember that talk is cheap and just ask them to please get out of the way.

Steve Smith