If you dare to enter the treasure trove of North Carolina Wingnuts you’ll find – as we say in the military – a target-rich environment. Especially at the Pope-a-dope Center, where ideology trumps intellect at every juncture . . . and liberal thinking is the source of all evil. Take George Leaf, for example (please!) and his dazzling insights on public education. First the breathtaking generalization to obscure reality and truth:
Today, your typical high school graduate believes that school is just a rather boring, obligatory use of his time that is tolerable only because it leads to the paper credentials necessary to unlock the door to high-paying employment. Put a lot of young people with that attitude in a classroom and a professor has little choice but to water down the material and make sure he keeps the kids entertained.It’s hard to even begin to respond to this kind of bullshit, so let me say this: It’s probably true in George’s intelligently designed world, where electoral success hinges on keeping people ignorant and uninformed. .. But where Leaf really pisses me off is his reactionary rant about teachers.
It isn’t by accident that government schooling is the way it is. Millions of teachers are doing things exactly as they believe they should, or want to. The soft, undemanding approach to education suits most of them perfectly. Why, for example, is it now rare to find a teacher who will take a red (or purple or any other color) pen to a student essay and give it severe, line-by- line scrutiny? Without that, students simply won’t learn to write well. Alas, the idea that there are rules for good writing is now regarded by writing theorists as the stuff of Neanderthals. And besides that, grading essays takes a lot of time and criticizing the way students write is apt to make them upset. Even if the teacher were capable of giving students a useful writing critique (something we should not assume), it’s much easier not to bother.Who is this jerk anyway? And has he ever met a teacher in real life? Has he ever tried to grade 35 essays for each of six classes? Has he ever tried to balance real learning with the sword of standardized testing undercutting his every instinct? What a fucking asshole. Oddly enough, I agree with Leaf that there is much room for improvement within the public school system. Much room. But it’s unlikely we’ll find the answer in dissing hard-working teachers and students. And though Leaf argues that “something must be done,” he’s devoid of useful ideas beyond the standard “privatize” option we’ve come to expect from right-wing delusionals. I’ve got a better idea. Make public schools the sole venue for selling Powerball tickets. (Oh my god . . . are you crazy? That would destroy mom-and-pop convenience stores all around the state! Gasp!) Now that would be an education lottery even a wingnut would appreciate.