Bored Of Ed


Just the other day I heard a snippet about the national teacher’s union supposedly lobbying for an extra year of high school. Why on earth they want to add another layer to Hell is beyond me, but…

Yeah, I can imagine the outcome: nineteen and twenty-year olds filling the hallways. And aren’t the parents going to be happy when those same nineteen and twenty-year olds are scoping out (or worse) their precious fourteen and fifteen year-olds. (Note: that’s, of course, the nineteen and twenty-year old “boys” The “fifth-year senior” women will most likely either all have dropped out or they’re doing what most other “girls” their age do: date older men with money and cars…

OK, so it’s clear that such an idea, from a “social engineering” angle, is either a stroke of genius or a new depth of stupidity. Genius in the sense that the mission would be to make sure “we” graduate young citizens who can read. A new depth of stupidity in that, come on! Another year of high school? What are they, idiots?

The answer: yes.

Will another year of high school solve the “problems” plaguing our youth?

I doubt it. Mainly because I can’t understand what the problems are.

Drugs? No problem. Teen pregnancy? No problem. Gun violence? No problem.

There are well-established laws on the books as well as myriad upon myriad of “awareness programs” concerning all of the above. There are also extended high school options – for those “special” cases – already equally well established that have been in place for more than a century. (They’re called “jail sentences for youthful offenders.”)

Will an extra year make the minority of “problem” cases get their acts together?

What’s that mean, anyway?

From what I gather, it’s a collective thought that the kids can’t read at the right grade level, that they can’t do math, and that they don’t know history. At least that what the newspapers talk about in their screeds bemoaning the results of the latest “comprehensive” test of high school graduates/college graduates.

But… If we look back at recent history, the message concerning subjects like history, math, and reading was “who cares?” I distinctly remember Eddie Murphy, in an interview with Time magazine, talking about getting out of high school, “…I mean, ‘E = mc2,’ who cares?!” Yeah, who cares about physics? What’s so important about that when you can make millions of dollars cracking dick jokes? Or when you can make millions being in a rock and roll band – or even better: be a white “rap” star.

I guess the only advantage to an extra year of high school would be to give the basketball and baseball standouts an extra year to hone their skills before they’re drafted into the big leagues. But that’s such a small, elite group already – and for the most part, they’re playing their sports year ‘round, at camps, clinics, etc. – that its effect wouldn’t be measurable. I mean, baseball players assume basic math skill through osmosis (they compute batting averages, earned-run averages, total bases, etc.). And most of them have excellent knowledge of the history of the game, as well as being well read concerning said history. The same goes for basketball: field goal percentages, etc. Hey, read the sports pages and you’ll quickly pick up a lot of math, reading, and history! So the athletes have one up one us already…

Maybe an extra year of high school (assuming it’s made illegal to drop out) would get the “kids” to stop listening to heavy metal. (Hmmm, this is pretty dated, but I’m on a roll.) Then again, the successful musicians out there have so much raw talent that they need “coaching” rather than teaching. And besides, once they start a band and get a few gigs, an album, a lucrative contract, what the heck would that extra year get them? Further behind. I mean, that’s an extra year of boring, day-in, day-out being baby sat which they could better spend reading interesting books and writing songs about the interesting books and calculating how much money they’d need to take this show on the road.

Putting all that fun aside, let’s consider what the problem is.

Twenty years ago, I was about to start my senior year of high school. The biggest “problem” in the school system at the time, from my perspective, was the proliferation of drugs. This, as the savvy people know, is a common occurrence when a lot of “rich” kids get together. Somehow, they always have the money for drugs, so…

Other schools, mostly “rural” districts, had their outbreaks of teen pregnancy, and there was plenty of violence going on. Not much in the way of guns, but we heard all these stories about Washington, D.C., New York City, and Miami and such… (The worst I heard about was some dude with a straight razor slitting another guy’s arm open during a fight at Fort Reno Park – that’s in suburban D.C., near where I grew up.)

What we didn’t have was a news media that hyper-saturated the air with stories of the daily “crises” among young people. Actually, we did, it’s just that “young people” weren’t the target audience – we didn’t buy newspapers, our parents did.

And now that parents are, whoa! I’m older than most young parents these days! Ha! And now that the kids of twenty, no, ten years ago are parents, isn’t it about time they became “concerned” about “their” children? But won’t that jeopardize your reputation for being a “cool Dad”?

What’s to be done, then? Easy: nothing. There is no problem. There isn’t a problem because some people are put on this earth to be examples. Some are the examples of how to live and some are of how not to live. A person has a choice and crime certainly does pay – from the petty thief who gets away with the cassette you left in your car to the highest executive in the country. Sometimes these people get caught and pay. Sometimes they don’t. Most of the time they stay rich, powerful, and always have women.

But if you’re not one of the chosen thieves who gets away with it until death, you had better learn to be able to do something or you will starve or worse – unless some fascists actually force everyone into another year of high school.

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