I'm reading Lord of the Flies with my 9th-grade daughter. I don't exactly love it. The prose is leaden and confusing, and her teacher insists on making every word, no matter how obscure or impractical, a required part of study. But despite my misgivings, the book's message is starting to resonate with me.
Americans are all riled up against our particular beast--quite different from that in the book--more modern, frightening for different reasons, but still ourselves. We're guilty not of savagery, but of being a middle class, personified by unionized teachers. We threaten society's march toward "progress," lead by the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates.
All woes are attributable to us. Families are blameless, and poverty plays no part either. The siren call of computers, Ipods, and even Gates' own Xbox, popular for the most desensitizing and vile war games, plays no part in America's failure to achieve. The primary culprit is the classroom teacher, and we must pay (being the largest group, inevitably followed all remaining unionized employees).
And pay we do, as state after state makes it unprofitable, demeaning, and pointless to pursue our much-vilified profession. NYC's Bloomberg trots right at the heels of Scott Walker, though he's managed to appear less fanatical to many. (Recent abysmal poll numbers suggest that may be changing.)
We have an Education Secretary who takes marching orders directly from billionaire Gates, echoing his message at regular intervals. It doesn't matter that none of their programs work, that there is no research to support them, or that the goals are plainly impossible. No child must be left behind, and if we have to close schools, fire teachers, and eliminate every program that doesn't focus on math or English, we will continue pursuing that impossible goal. As we do this, neither Gates nor Duncan takes any hint of responsibility the failure to realize whatever it is they claim to wish to accomplish.
The bodies we leave in our wake will be washed out to sea, and no one need know that we're abandoning our own interests, ourselves, our middle class, that we're depriving the children we didn't leave behind of a future, or that we've given away their prospects to further comfort the comfortable. We siphon more and more money to those who have no need of it, and MSM, along with most politician from both major parties, pointedly ignore this. Witness Cuomo's ads boasting of no tax hikes, the ones that fail to note cuts to education and health care for those who most need it.
And that doesn't take into account the legions of Americans that eagerlyt believe the utter nonsense that appears daily on Fox News, in the New York Post, and in scores of less blatant publications. We don't question it.
Given that, maybe there's a glimmer of truth in what they say. Maybe education has failed us after all. Otherwise, we'd rescue ourselves.
If we don't, you can bet your life no one's coming to our island to do so.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.