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Well, Chicago public school teachers are going back to school . . . or are they? With election day looming on the horizon, the candidates are debating their takes on education. And I’m not sure you’ve heard of this thing called student loan debt.

But hey, it’s not all grim. For some of us, the thought of going back to school is a sweet one, whether it’s playing parking-lot football during recess, drinking apple juice, reading great books, beefing up on history, or solving math problems—well, maybe not that last one. Yet school itself or the time of the year when one goes back to school can have sweet memories for some. Or it’s the subject of an unending nightmare, one in which you’re panicking that you missed the final exam, that you have your entire life. One or the other.

With the teachers’ union (for the moment) deciding not to go on strike, and since it’s just that time of the year, this week’s Variations on a Theme is a schooltime edition. All week long, check back here for writing about going back to school, whatever that happens to entail.

And in case you missed it, check out Squirrels Week, last week’s Variations on a Theme.