The Johnson’s are a typical upper-middle class family. Craig, Susan, and their children Megan and Ethan live on one of Hubbard’s “burb” streets, full of new, similar-looking, vinyl-sided wonders, complete with manicured lawns, and a cul-de-sac. When you look at these homes from the front you mostly see the triple garage. Somewhere behind that garage is a house, if you can find it. These “garage houses” are expensive homes with walk-in closets, kitchens with islands, Jacuzzi’s, and first-floor laundry rooms that older houses just don’t have.
Instead, Hubbard’s older neighborhoods have alleys. The garages are in back yard, detached from the house, but at least you can see the house from the street. Alleys are cool. There’s room for your extra stuff back there, whether it be your woodworking shop, your boat, or Grandpa’s 84 Buick that hasn’t run for three years. None of those things would ever be tolerated in Craig and Susan’s neighborhood.
Anyway, back to the Johnson’s. Craig and Susan met in college. Considered handsome by some, he was shy, self-conscious and serious about his studies. Two years younger than Craig, Susan was a popular sorority girl and a good looker. They married his senior year in college, after which they moved to Iowa City, where he attended dental school. After completing his DDS degree, Craig worked in a dental office in Muscatine, Iowa before moving to Hubbard to start his own practice. He’s a good technician that can drill and fill with the best of them. He is also popular with his patients and makes a good living. Susan never finished college. Craig jokes that she went to college to get her MRS degree. Susan isn’t amused.
The Johnson’s two children are both enrolled in the Hubbard, Wisconsin public middle school. Susan spends most of her time running them to and from school, to soccer practice, to play practice, and to the orthodontist. Craig doesn’t do Ortho. Thank God for the Town & Country Mini-Van! Craig and Susan get along most of the time, but the upcoming public school referendum has caused a rift between them.
Craig isn’t happy with the public schools. He says that the school district keeps coming back to the taxpayers again and again. After threatening to do away with all extracurricular activities and to make 5 year-olds walk 2 miles to school, they finally get their referendums passed, but the quality of the education never improves. His kids never have any homework and they are not challenged. Megan told him they watch videos twice a week in her history class. They both stink at math. Craig recently asked Ethan, “What is 20% of 120?” Ethan thought about it for a while and said “360?”
Many of their neighbors are public school teachers and Craig thinks they are overpaid. He tells Susan that the referendum money will eventually end up paying for another big fat teacher raise. He thinks the teachers could work harder. “After the referendum passes, they’ll get another raise and still show videos all day.” Craig tells Susan.
Regarding the teachers, Craig continues; “After all, they didn’t beat their brains out in dental school. Cripes, they took those easy education courses. They’ve got courses in the education department where they spend hours cutting circles out of construction paper! I have an office to run and a payroll to make. I have a dental practice to run and a payroll to make. I have responsibilities and am making big payments on the loans for my office building and dental school. Why should teachers be able to live in this neighborhood? They take no risks. “
Susan thinks that the voters have to approve the referendum, because it’s “for the kids”. You just can’t do enough for the kids. Susan strongly believes that you can’t do enough for kids. They are the future of Hubbard. Heck, they are the future of the nation! Besides, Susan likes her teacher neighbors. During the summer she goes over to their houses for tea, and they regularly go golfing. Susan is a good golfer; much better than Craig.
What really irks Craig is that Susan has volunteered to join the “pass the referendum” committee. She wants to put a “Referendum Yes” sign in the front yard. Craig refuses. “How can I be on the committee without a sign in my yard?” Susan says. “That’s your problem!” Craig replies.
The other evening, around 10 p.m., Susan walked into the den while Craig was at the computer. She glanced over his shoulder. He was looking at some Internet article titled, “Vouchers – the Answer for Cost Effective Quality Education”. “What’s a voucher?” she asked? “Nothing, honey.” he replied. “Just go to bed. Don’t you have an early tee time tomorrow morning?”