The Journal


Serving the Metropolitan Area


Since 1872


May 14th




By Jack Parnell - retired Congressman and Independent Presidential candidate


Syndicated by Acme Features


          This ol' candidate for Guv’nor of Texas as wound up runnin' for President some years back… not the drunk, the used-to-be drunk motorcycle lady or the oops man or the crazy person, I’m talkin’ way way back… figured Americans just might elect him if'n he raised standardized test scores, so teachers were commanded to turn li'l Texans into veritable data-spouting fonts... as might someday reap beacoup bucks on quiz shows.  Well, voters with an unearthly respect for charts and graphs duly crowned Dubya as George III, Pretender to the Lone Star Republic, then crowned him agin' (legitimately, this time) for the whole nation.

          Sometimes I get these bad dreams of about twenty years down the road when I'm a toothless old codger driving amongst Texas... down a dirt road toward Crawford, of course, still unpaved... and there's the flashing lights behind and state trooper, as asks: "Sir... you were doing twenty-seven in a twenty-five mile zone. What is the capital of Chechnya?  I do a Perry… uh, uhm… he says no, sir, it's Groznia. Put your hands behind your head, get out of your vehicle slowly, or I'll be forced to ventilate you." Then, after he's writ me up for "spedding", I stop for ice cream to wash the dust out'n my throat and the thirty-somethin’ gender studies graduate behind the counter asks: "Chocolate or vanilla, but first… and in order to be served... to make four trillion dollars, a stack of tightly packed hundred dollar bills would extend a) 2,700; b) 3,200 or c) 4,400 miles into space?" I realize I'm going to have to answer, and correctly, in order to wet my tonsils... not to mention knowing what the dollar will be worth by then… which is why I say it's a bad dream.

          Seems to me some might want educated children, not human dictionaries, but what I think's really going on is that most downsized, disgruntled and imitation principling Americans... many as who've seen their jobs shipped off to China... see the teachers and firemen, the garbagemen and those state cops, as still have union jobs, and get envious, dog-in-the-manger envious. "One trend that bothers me is the glorification of stupidity..." astronomer Carl Sagan said before shuffling off to his own private cosmos – and that before the last election, "...that the media is reassuring people it's all right not to know anything - that, in a way, it's cool."

          I guess I grew up in a deprived (maybe, even, depraved) household... the Senator wouldn't let me come to DeeCee full-time 'til I was old enough to enroll as a junior in that private high school in Georgetown. So I had to come up through the local system, including two years at Dan Boone Consolidated Middle... with textbooks as taught two and two makes four, Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo, and that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves.

          Missed out on that post-modern Common Core-age curricula as has replaced the violent, Eurocentric Iliad and Odyssey with the adventures of "Respect, the Frog" and "Dignity, the Turtle". I also missed out learning that "curriculum of caring" as holds one gets ahead in life by ordering hot coffee from the Klown for a morning's commute, spilling it in your lap and hiring some big-hair, big-teeth TV lawyer to sue the company.

          David Slavitt, a foe of post-modern French pedagogues as Derrida and Paul deMan, even voices the ultimate political incorrectum: "The whole point of a university education used to be to teach discrimination." Maybe, had we not demonized said concept (as held sway in the days when reading, 'riting and 'rithmatic were taught to the tune of a hick’ry stick), we'd be able to perceive the oaks of discipline from that scrub forest of Squeamishness and the politically correct, as leads, straightly or not, to the attorney's door.

          The voucher and charter people have their agenda, too, but most are their own worst enemies. Too many scammers as, for example; Gap-financed Channel One (financed by The Gap and hostile takeover mavens Kohlberg-Kravitz-Roberts)... shoveling kids into classrooms to watch television with a teaspoon of lite literature, math and history and plenty of commercials. Too many crazies and worse wantin' to get their Mitts on America's children, force-feed 'em with propaganda and get paid for the doin'. Some'll fall back on faith and values, but now as Mister Trump’s Supremes have let the self-proclaimed Christians belly up to the taxpayers' buffet, we’ll also either double down on declaring America a Christian (or, if them AIPAC lobbyists do their jobs, a Judeo-Christian-only) nation or else throw the door wide open to the Buddhists, the nudists, the Scientologists and Osama death-deniers, that Jew-hatin’ Mickey Mouse knockoff from Hamas and your friendly, local Satanist.

          I wouldn't go banning or burning those Harry Potter books and DVDs, but I don't want my tax dollars paying to set up Hogwarts Academies in Raleigh or Denver, or even Duluth... that one magic word as pops vouchercrats like puffballs bein' "madrassas"!

          So we pass our kids, like oat-bran muffins, through the system and out... and then into the colleges and universities where "freshmen are herded into fifty thousand yearly, 500-seat lecture halls, with little chance of interacting with the sage on the stage," according to Murray Sperber, author of "Beer and Circus". The "circuses", as replace real education, are trivial elective seminars (like that on gambling, at the University of Wisconsin), collegiate sports and so-called "business curricula" where students learn to "make things happen by pushing paper around," complained financial writer Milton Moskowitz back in the day. Once they take over, we won't "...have any steel or coal or cars or food or houses or clothing. I guess the assumption is we'll just import those products."

          Old Miltie got that one.

          Ken Jennings, that Jeopardy guy, says that nearly ten percent of University of Miami students were unable to find Miami on a map.

          No wonder, as the Don Jones people say, America ranks in the lower quartiles of most indices as fit “developed” nations and the dead bottom, in some.

          So, what, you ask, might Catfish elementary education look like? Well... elementary, for a start. Youngsters, as have been already schooled on gun safety, would walk to neighborhood schools, burnin' off them junk food calories and poppin’ caps on any dirty old man as tried to offer them rides, instead of bein' bused to huge, dilapidated warehouses. Those in middle and highschools could ride bicycles and, once impris… uh, enrolled… learn at least a few useful skills like auto repair, computer coding and dealing with corporate and gumment bureaucracies.  Those private enterprises as wanted to keep their  Trumpolistic tax cuts would be invited in for mentoring and the such.

          We can fix our schools... if the parents, teachers, bureaucrats, private sector and taxpayers all understand nothing comes for free. Come to think of it... we cannot afford not to fix them. The alternative is unacceptable. Maybe George Will and Mike Barone would rather do without schools, as have become "emblematic of Soft (i.e. gay) America", but it's gonna take more than armies of steroid-swilling illiterates with heads full of Marvel Comics cotton candy to combat the geeks of Beijing and Bangalore, let alone the hardasses still spilling out of ISIS madrassas.

          "Fighting crime begins with the early years of the neglected child, when there is still a chance," retired Miami juvenile judge Seymour Gelber states in his memoir, "Hard Core Delinquents". "The longer we wait the harder it will get. There are no assurances of success, but there is guarantee of failure - unquestioned failure if we try any other route."