Saturday, December 14, 2013


I was pretty surprised to read that, in the United States, if you're rich and you kill four people you suffer from "affluenza" and aren't guilty. After all, if you have the handicap of growing up with all that money, how are you to know that common people are not dispensable and ought not to be murdered? Mater and Pater never had time to tell you that, what with their high-powered jobs and gala luncheons. And they let you know early it was OK to accuse nanny of stealing the jewelry and have her deported back to the foul region from whence she came.

I've just been alerted by someone on Twitter that there is another little known malady called Edfluenza. Symptoms include imposing untested and/ or failed notions on national education systems. For example, you might wish to rate teachers by their test scores and fire the bottom 5% or so. You would do this even though it failed miserably in your own company, and caused failure after failure.

Or you might decide that the way to help schools is to close them and replace them with smaller ones. Of course, you would say nothing to the many districts that have adopted this practice even after it was pretty much established to be an abysmal failure. After all, by this time not only you, but also cash-strapped municipalities had been pouring millions into this program, and you couldn't just say, "Hey, I'm sorry you wasted all that money." After all, being reformy means never having to say you're sorry.

Or maybe you'd spent hundreds of millions designing a set of standards that had never been tested anywhere. Maybe you didn't bother to substantively consult with educators and had no idea whether or not it would work. Perhaps you decided to test kids extensively on topics for which they'd never prepared and parents got all up in arms about it. The only thing you could do, really, is pepper the genuine speakers with members of the various reformy groups you supported, hand them identical talking points, and make it appear that they were somehow grassroots. Make sure they get every spot on the speaker list and you should be in good shape.

Finally, you may notice that you have so little faith in these programs that you yourself have no idea whether or not they will work. You decide you won't actually know this for ten years. Yet you subject an entire nation's children to these programs, because you figure what the hell, your kids go to private schools anyway.

While you claim to be a passionate supporter of child health, you invest in companies like Coca Cola and McDonald's, which sell some of the most unhealthy products on earth to the children you claim to love so. Just for good measure, you also invest in Walmart, which has a business model that insures many of these kids you love so much will be doomed to crappy subsistence jobs rather than rewarding careers.

Then you go home and wonder why the hell no one wants your crappy Windows phone.
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