The Educational Rapture

From the Holy Book of Teacheriah, an Epistle to the Unionians, chapter 5, verses 5-10:

5  And in that great and last day, there shall be a famine of public-sector budgets in the land, and the houses of learning shall be in mighty want;

6  And there shall arise many great heroes, like unto the saints of old, who shall go forth armed with self righteous power to do battle with the Anti-Nice, that fiend who fails to respond to demands for funding, and his legion of dragons, the Fiscally Conservative Beast;

7  But lo, and verily, those Holy Activists, clothed with authority by virtue of their indignation, shall cleanse the lepers and raise the dead, and they shall multiply the few scant dollars in the treasury to become many millions, that thus the ancient bureaucracy may continue to thrive;

8  And the evil enemies of deficit spending and punitive taxation, who clearly hate all the good young of the people, shall be vanquished and cast into outer darkness, that there they may see the light of our truth, and repent. 

9  And then shall the heavens clave in twain, and the very seraphs of heaven shall blow their trumps, the hand of God shall be revealed, and all the good educational activists shall be caught up in glory to reap their pensions and salary schedules in spite of reality, and they shall be worshipped as the saints they are, for verily, emotional posturing is far greater in His sight than merely effective teaching despite mildly inconvenient conditions. 

10  And (oh yeah) at this sacred time the many young of the land, who had largely failed before, shall suddenly become proficient geniuses.  As if that matters.  And so it shall be.  Amen. 

 

NOTE: Normally I don’t explain satirical posts, but as my colleague here has just printed something below, taking a different position on the same issue as this post, I feel I should comment.  Yes, this is a coincidence–I thought of this post while driving home from work today, and drafted it before I saw my friend’s post, so it’s not a direct response.  Second, I’m happy to have an alternate take on the subject appear here–my friend’s work represents an intelligent, principled, and well-writtten approach to important things.  I’m always happy when this blog becomes a forum for quality exchanges.

As for my post itself, it was inspired by the public statements of a few local actvists, including Facebook posts by a group that’s dedicating a lot of time and energy fighting to maintain education funding in Nevada.  There’s a legitimate place for that, but lately the tone of these posts has indulged in a lot of absolute moral vanity, to the point that I fear their work is now in danger of being divorced from a focus on educational integrity. 

And, of course, it’s a reference to the recent spurt of interest in the Rapture.

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2 comments on “The Educational Rapture

  1. Well written, my friend.

    I know well of the facebook group of which you speak (and, full disclosure, of which I am a part) and while we are coming from different perspectives, I am glad that your blog is a place for thoughtful debate. That facebook group (which I do largely admire) does try to take the absolute moral high ground which drives me nuts. To say that there will be no concessions (or should be no concessions) is ludicrous. Nevada is bleeding.

    What I am opposed to is the line in the sand approach of Sandoval. His absolute refusal to offer up any type of concession when we are (I’m assuming) being asked to make deep cuts is deeply concerning. Personally, I am trying to vigorously defend my self interest, as I welcome those that live far beyond my means to do as well, but I am unwilling to fund lawsuits or civil disobedience, because ultimately, the will of the people will, and should, be done. You will have to forgive me, however, if I roll my eyes when some complain about taxation eating away at their souls while they are at the same time purchasing second homes and creature comforts. To quote Abraham Lincoln, “Give me a break, dude.”

    Unfortunately, on the other side, we see unwisely spent money on iPads and grammatical failures from inept back office personnel. This dismays me, and undercuts the idea that there is no budgetary wiggle room. I would love it if Sandoval showed actual leadership and said “We need to save frontline teaching positions and try to maintain salaries. We signed a contract with these people, and if we cannot make good on that, we must do what we can to mitigate the obvious financial repercussions that cutting that many salaries will incur.” Unfortunately, Sandoval’s message is, whether explicitly stated or not “Cut baby cut! (Bleep) the money you spent to move up in salary in the negotiated contract! We don’t like that contract, we already are barely honoring it, so nyeah nyeah nyeah! PS, you suck teachers!”

    It is sad to me that this issue has become so fractious and has so quickly dissolved along party lines. I don’t think this has to be a conservative/liberal, republican/democrat, business/state issue. I’m not going to get on a pious soapbox and proclaim every teacher a saint, but it is an important stewardship, and to some degree should be treated as such.

    Business icon Lee Iacocca said “In a completely rational society, the best of us would aspire to be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something less, because passing civilization along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest responsibility anyone could have.” Unfortunately in Nevada, we oftentimes treat it as though it’s about responsibility number 1,476 behind “getting tourists drunk” and “evaluating next year’s pole dancing draft class”. Somehow, we have to find some common ground to move forward balancing both fiscal responsibility and moral obligation to our next generation without implementing the scorched Earth approach. I don’t pretend to know the best way to implement this. I only implore our elected leaders to earn their own paychecks and find a way to make it happen.

  2. Well, good buddy, can’t argue with much of that. Driving home yesterday (for some reason, this is what comes to mind during the commute), I pondered what else might be done, then. Some thoughts:

    There has to be more to education advocacy than merely agitating legislators to raise taxes on successful industries or engage in deficit spending. It’s a matter of not putting your eggs in one basket–as it is, unless a handful of leaders change their minds about what they would have done anyway, then all of these efforts have been completely wasted.

    Some other ideas to consider exploring:

    Regarding those sectors of the economy they think should be giving more to education: approach them in person and make a case that they should contribute directly to campus budgets. If their ideas about schools needing funding for the health of the economy are solid, you should be able to convince the private sector that it’s in their best interest to subsidize it. They’d probably appreciate having the wasteful middle man of state government cut out of the equation.

    Instead of raising funds to perpetuate activism, especially through the courts, raise money to go directly to the schools people care about. Again, a wasteful middle man is cut out, and wouldn’t people be willing to support the teachers and resources they say they want to help? This might be difficult, but imagine if the community served by any given campus said, “Three great teachers are being downsized next year, and we respect them and need them. We’re going to raise $150,000 to pay them ourselves so our children can have the school they deserve.” The money might be scarce, but isn’t the principle true? Why shouldn’t public education be able to work like that?

    Besides increasing revenue for education, they could concede to leaders that money is tight, and propose budget solutions that would make needed cuts in areas other than the classroom, or education at all. If it can be done, let’s do it. If it can’t, then this cause isn’t reasonable.

    Any of these three things, or a combination, or any number of other things entirely, could be part of any comprehensive plan to champion public education.

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