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Author’s Disclaimer: This article is work of fantasy. The names and descriptions of the children, parents, and school staff involved are 100% fiction. The scenario is a pipe dream. The underlying message is one that you will have to interpret solely for yourself.
It’s the fall of 2011. Teacher tenure had been postponed from three to five years with teacher observations increased to six per year for beginning teachers and four per year for those with tenure. Bargaining rights for teachers had been revoked. In many counties, school system contributions to teachers’ health insurance was reduced to less than 10 per cent so that teacher’s salaries no longer exceed the poverty level. Classroom size had increased to 45 or more. State standards tripled once again so that passing TCAP tests was next to impossible. Charter schools were taking a major portion of school support. Rich parents were sending their children to private schools. Over 75 per cent of Tennessee’s teachers formerly in public schools have resigned or retired.
School boards are finding it impossible to recruit new teachers; public schools are in chaos.
Left behind through sheer insanity on their part not to mention total loyalty to the children, Mrs. Zane, principal, and Mrs. Tebaldi, assistant principal, of Hopeless Elementary plan to send three busloads of children on a field trip to the Tennessee Legislature.
No teachers will be going on the field trip because they must try to remain behind for crowd control of the 750 remaining students. Only designated parents will be accompanying their own children.
Permission to sit with certain legislators who were responsible for the vendetta against teachers that resulted in the school crisis described above will make the impact of this field trip a memorable experience never to be forgotten by each of these lawmakers.
“Let’s see. Who should go on the kindergarten-first grade bus, Mazie?” Mrs. Zane begins. “I believe Arnie should be the first choice.”
“Isn’t he the kid who cries all day long?” Mazie asks.
“Yep! His mother, the one who stands in the hallway with the extra diapers every morning, will have to sit with him. Of course, in spite of there being a bathroom on the bus, he’ll be sure to have several accidents on the 30-minute trip,” Kurtrude explains. “Then we’ll let Webbie get on next.”
“You mean the kid who throws up before the first bell most mornings?”
“That’s the one. Her father will sit with her and he’ll have to bring a few extra outfits because she usually throws up again after snack, lunch and any excitement. I suspect when she decorates one of the legislator’s expensive high heels, the shoe will be on the other foot, so to speak,” Kurtrude says with a smile.
“Who else will go on this bus?”
“I’m planning on Xanzes, the kid who likes to start fires; Blossom, the one with the constantly running nose; Manzer, the runner from class; Vasil, the one who cuts himself on every available object and requires frequent band-aids; Jweleves, the child who knows only the word four-letter words in English; Revere, the kid who pinches everyone in sight; Notte, the one who steals; Yelzerst, the girl whose clothes reek of smoke and urine; Kpraxese, the boy with a tendency to lie down in the floor and scream every time he doesn’t get his way; Evalle, the one who started the food fight in the cafeteria on the first day of school (I suspect this one is really only four but the mother has modified his birth certificate because she can’t handle him at home); the twins, Nete and Twete, who have had lice already three times this year and it’s not even Labor Day yet; and Catreals, the one whose father screams obscenities at the teachers who direct traffic every morning,” Mrs. Zane continues.
“Can we get all these with their parents on one bus?”
Kurtrude explains, “Usually we can squeeze three kids to a seat because they have no seatbelts and one can hang a bit over the edge. With the wide load derrieres of the parents, we can get one kid plus a parent on each seat. So far, I have only 15 kids plus one parent each which means 30 people and 15 seats filled. These are just the better kindergarteners because we can’t send ones who cause real problems. The legislators couldn’t handle them, of course.”
“What about first graders?” Mazie reminds her.
“I’ve selected 10 of them too, plus the parents,” Kurtrude continues. “We’re sending Percival, the one whose mother has complained to the school board about every single teacher her other 11 children have had; Linant, the spitter; Topevse, the one who stops up the toilets about once a week; Filla, one who taps on something every second of the day; Alleyinge, the kid who drew the naked man with all appendages on the bathroom wall; Cabeb, the kid who set off the fire alarm the other day; Wella and Suziette, the drama queens who fist fight frequently and then cry as though the world is ending when they think a note about their behavior is going home; Manquee, the child who trips everyone as they walk by him; and Oppiwalsa, the one who threw a stink bomb into the faculty lounge.”
“Yes, I can see that this is going to be an interesting ride.” Mazie shudders as she thinks about it. “How many police officers are going along?”
“Three per busload,” Mrs. Zane says. “I’ve also scheduled one school board member per bus. Each of these adults will have a seat to themselves until they have to take charge of anyone out of control. I’m putting them throughout the bus so that they can keep an eye on everyone. Naturally, we’ll have a nurse and EMT along too in case fisticuffs get out of hand or the school board member has a coronary attack. You know that these politicians are not teachers so they are not really accustomed to handling children and their parents.”
“I take it that second and third graders will be on the second bus, and fourth and fifth graders will be on the third,” Mrs. Tebaldi ventures.
“That’s the plan. We’ll be sure to put Milo, the fifth grader who figured out the blocking system on the computers and added all the porn sites to the ones in the lab on the third bus, and some of the others with minor offenses like this on these other buses. This will mean that most teachers will have only 41 or 42 kids in each class today, but every little bit helps. You never know when you’re going to have another kid draw a knife in class or bring in a gun in his backpack,” Mrs. Zane admonishes. “You and I will have only 12 observations apiece today, but since it’s impossible to work nine hours of observations into a 10-hour day with cafeteria duty for three hours plus dealing with all the crises in the office since all the secretaries and bookkeepers quit, we’ll have to watch teachers only 30 minutes at the time.”
“You know, that reminds me,” Mazie Tebaldi remembers. “I saw three of our former teachers working in the Emergency Room the day Gebes stabbed me. They all were smiling and said to tell you that their lives are so much more peaceful now and that it feels wonderful to be able to pay their bills. I also saw our former bookkeeper driving her new Lexus the other day; I guess she’s making a lot more money now that she went to work for that electronics firm.”
“It makes you wonder why we’re still here sometimes, doesn’t it?” Kurtrude Zane says softly. “I guess someone has to mind the store. Since my husband left, I figured I’d better hold on to what little retirement I have. I’ll be able to retire after next year and then I’ll need to get another job. I just hope I can make it one more year.”
“How about that list of students for the other two busloads?”
“I have it here and we can discuss it right after we figure out where we’re going to put the six new students who are waiting in the lobby to be enrolled,” Mrs. Zane reports. “Then we can start on the list for the field trip for the next day.”
Mrs. Tebaldi’s eyebrows rise in surprise. “What’s the destination tomorrow?”
“The governor’s office, of course!”
Editor’s Note: The views expressed in opinion & commentary pieces are those of the individual author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Clarksville Online, our Staff, other Authors, or our Advertisers and Sponsors.
Author of Tennessee Literary Luminaries: From Cormac McCarthy to Robert Penn Warren (The History Press, 2013) Sue Freeman Culverhouse has been a freelance writer for the past 36 years. Beginning in 1976, she published magazines articles in Americana, Historic Preservation, American Horticulturist, Flower and Garden, The Albemarle Magazine, and many others. Sue is the winner of two Virginia Press Awards in writing.
She moved to Springfield, Tennessee in 2003 with her sculptor husband, Bill a retired attorney. Sue has one daughter, Susan Leigh Miller who teaches poetry and creative writing at Rutgers University.
Sue teaches music and writing at Watauga Elementary School in Ridgetop, Tennessee to approximately 500 students in kindergarten through fifth grade. She also publishes a literary magazine each year; all work in the magazine is written and illustrated by the students.
Sue writes “Uncommon Sense,” a column in the Robertson County Times, which also appears on Clarksville Online. She is the author of “Seven keys to a sucessful life”, which is available on amazon.com and pubishamerica.com; this is a self-help book for all ages.
Web Site: http://culverhouseart.com/
TopicsCollective Bargaining, Collective bargaining laws, Education impact, Future of schools, Legislature against teachers, Political satire, Public school crisis, Satire, School impact, Teacher crisis, Teacher recruitment, Teacher Retirement, Tenure, Tenure laws
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