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Commentary: Continuing Education


The start of a school year for many students means new beginnings. For the family of commentator Tom Dodge, call it a case of continuing education.

Andrew Dodge is is a bright skinny kid with dark curly hair and cool scientific demeanor. He is beginning community college.

His father, Lowell Andrew Dodge, was a bright skinny kid with light silken hair and wiry electronic disposition when he first entered these same classrooms thirty years before.

At the same high school, both were implacable pegs in predictably regulated holes.

Myself, the eponymous grandfather and veteran absconder from the beaten path, began here in this academy for working-class kids in 1970, as a trailblazing Dallas Community College mortarboardsman. A dozen of his peers still expostulate within these halls, with less voltage now but more illumination. These colleagues don't think it queer, a third-generation Dodge boy entering here.

One, Paul Benson, now in his 45th year of professing in the same office, described us three as “History's echoes.” He was on the spot, aiding grandparents in their quest to thread their implacable but willing wanderer through the Byzantine maze that is college enrollment.

It was a week-long process of tests and orientation and disorientation until grandmother. Brenda Dodge, also a student here in yore. said, “Find the Dean.”

Grandfather's memory bank defaulted. “They're in the cemetery,” he said. Then, as a sign from Providence, a Dean's office appeared nearby. Entering, grandfather sayeth their troubles to a tall and imperial personage standing there.

He was not a dean. He was the Vice-President, Dr. Leonard Garrett. He led the tribulated trio henceforth through the maze and then, all ended well. So far.

Like his father, Andrew resigned from the same public school when he learned it would be impossible there to study such topics as economic, racial and religious diversity. Evolution is also a vacuum there, as are quasars, time, light, and black holes.

His father made a bright connection however in his electronics classes at Mountain View where, according to his professors he had been among the top-ten computer graduates of 1988--the year grandfather first expostulated via these KERA airwaves. Lowell now rebuilds, repairs, buys, sells, and maintains machines that make microchips for JTM Technologies. “I like to learn,” he said when he saw the difference between his high school and community college experiences. “I just didn't like being controlled.” 

We believe history will echo that.

Tom Dodge is a commentator, from Midlothian