The big yellow machines are hitting city streets and country lanes hauling their cargo once again to school.  Several hundred first-time teachers have the jitters about  facing a roomful of kids who are all their own.  There is not an older teacher in the room.  Lunchroom workers and custodians and receptionists are washing pots and pans, trying to get that stain off the floor and sharpening pencils.

Tonight Sully Van Sise is excited about heading off to Six Flags Over Georgia (or as he says, six poles) tomorrow.  He is not so excited about heading to his second grade classroom next week at Fairhope Elementary.  Amy Hiller is both nervous and excited about her brand new duties as principal at Gulf Shores Elementary.  Once again Ann Monroe will be teaching science a stone’s throw from both Tennessee and Georgia at Bryant Junior High in Jackson county.

Yep, it’s time for school to start.  For mothers to wave goodbye to their first born on their first day at kindergarten and wonder how they will make it to the end of the school day.  Teachers will dry tears and blow noses.  Ninth graders will enter the hallowed halls of HIGH SCHOOL where the coolest, most worldly people in the world are just three years older.  A fifth grade boy will size up his teacher and say to himself, “You are not so tough.”

More than 700,000 students entrusted to the care of adults who will shape and mold them in ways no one can foresee.

It is a magical time.

By contrast, about the only education news to reach the public lately is the search for a new state superintendent of education, a process that turned into the most politicized such effort ever in the history of Alabama.  A process that has inundated members of the state school board with messages from educators, non-educators and special interest groups.  A time when voice mail quickly filled up and a torrent of email greeted them every time they checked their computer or mobile device.

A process that saw two state board members openly campaign against one of the six final candidates and rumors and innuendo overwhelm reason and common sense.

It stands in stark contrast to what is now happening in nearly 1,500 schools from Bridgeport to Bayou La Batre.

One we might consider our finest hour.  The other, not so much.