President Obama was in my hometown yesterday to simultaneously talk about the importance of education and call his own into question, because a truly intelligent and educated man would have known to postpone visiting Boston until next Thursday.
Since this is Massachusetts, President Obama could easily have gotten rabid applause making an speech promising to educate kids in Dorchester by starting a band, but the election is coming up fast and he’s got a Republican Congress with which he wants to “reach a bipartisan agreement” (Much like the similar agreements reached daily in our finer prison showers), so he had to spin out the old arguments that the education system is “broken“, and is in desperate need of “reform, and most of all, results,” which is a hell of an argument from a guy who used to be a fucking teacher.
The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations… In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” That’s what they’re — that’s how they’re described.
Big fucking deal. In South Korea, cocker spaniels are known as “antipasto”. Still, the man has daily access to CIA briefings, and if he’s suddenly worried about a gap between American and South Korean education, I can only surmise that he’s expecting an imminent invasion by the Zerg. Unless he’s just worried about our ability to keep up with the famous South Korean industriousness and rapid population growth?
And I’m assuming somebody who’s… saying, put away the video games and do your homework.
So much for competing with South Korea.
Most of the handwringing we get these days is that we need to fundamentally change the way we educate children in order to compete with China… which is such a shortsighted wad of cheap politicians’ hysteria that it’s hard for me to even find the words with which to mock it. However, unlike that wretched “Tiger Mother” Amy Chua‘s kids, who may have developed the fine motor control that it takes to play flawless Dvorak that they will only use to accurately aim a 30.06 at every 40-something mini-skirt and scalp of straight black hair they can find from the top floor of their local mall, I have the uniquely American ability to identify and sneer at bullshit by smell alone.
When politicians screech that we need to educate children in the manner of the Chinese, something about it causes parents, through some weird biological imperative, lack of sleep or overexposure to Spongebob, to dumbly nod in agreement like a brain-shattered Gitmo prisoner or a daughter of Amy Chua… apparently forgetting that we’ve been hearing this crap all our lives.
All though my elementary education I heard this same shit about the children of the Soviet Union, who were being drilled in math and sciences and preparing to destroy us on the world stage… which I’m sure is why that it is now possible to purchase one of those children over the Internet. Jesus, when I was 12 years old, adults made me afraid that if I didn’t work hard enough the Russians would destroy us in the Arms Race… a quarter century later, and Russia isn’t even winning the Vodka Race. And they invented vodka.
After I graduated college in the early 1990′s, all I heard on the news was that I was part of the final generation to live in a United States that wasn’t mostly owned by the Japanese, because – say it with me – Japanese kids were being drilled in math and sciences, while American kids were busy planning for a future lazily tripping balls by spending their time chasing colorful mushrooms as part of an effort to save someone called Princess Toadstool of all things… probably because our future Japanese overlords who coded the game couldn’t spell Psilocibin. Or Poontang.
So quit worrying about competition from Chinese kids. After all, regardless of their educational system, it’s fucking China. With the way things are over there, they’re exactly one generation away from being willing to defect in exchange for even just a picture of a woman… which won’t matter because most of them will be blind anyway. And then America will swoop in to airdrop humanitarian aid… probably consisting of dirt-cheap vodka and tentacle porn.
But no one’s ever earned a buck or a vote by saying, “Hey, everyone! Everything’s okay!” so every few years we get the same education panic from one party or the other. This time around it seems to be mostly from the Republicans, and they can say anything they want because I’ve heard it all before: “Let’s dissolve the teachers’ unions so we can cut salaries and pensions!” Yeah, because everyone knows that the best way to attract top-shelf talent is through low pay and shitty benefits, right? Go Pirates!
The other big empty catchphrase is, “We need to run our schools like a business,” which is an idea I want to dismiss out of hand since no sane person would ever hire a person wielding an academic transcript from an institution run under the philosophy of “too big to fail”…
But I’m conflicted. Because the idea of schools as business is kind of intriguing to me, since the way these spastics have run their businesses since 2000 implies that they intend to chop your children up and sell the pieces to the highest bidder. Which would mean I could finally relax on a fucking airplane.