Thursday, May 26, 2011

The return of Mr. Happy

No, Mr. Happy was not silenced, defanged or even put down. He just stayed busy thinking up different ways of torturing moronic drivers, inconsiderate schmucks and anyone using a cell phone for any other purpose other than speaking.
A blog? What the hell is that? It sounds like something the Creature moved into after the Black Lagoon was bulldozed and used for low income housing.
Apparently, all you do with a blog is write, which is what I did when I had a column in this rag. Only now, it’s called a blog.
Makes perfect sense to me.
I was told this one was too long, so from now on they’ll be shorter.
That’s kind of the nutshell version of my sex life.
But that’s another blog (love that word).
You have to love politicians.
I sure don’t.
No public servants do less, yet no group has a larger impact on the way people attempt to slog through their day-to-day lives than these wonderful elected officials.
Perhaps I shouldn’t be too tough on these Ringling Bros. refugees.
To be fair, all of them work extremely hard in one facet of their profession – from the second they’re elected they bust their asses trying to get re-elected.
That facet, of course, has virtually nothing to do with what their job is supposed to entail, that is, representing their constituents. But that doesn’t seem to bother them. And realistically, why should it? You’re talking about slimeballs who would kiss a baby to solicit the family vote, then turn around and toss that same bundle of joy off a bridge to appease those voters who believe the world’s population is out of control.
And while your chances of actually being helped by these self-serving representatives of the people rank a notch or two below slim and none, you can be sure that when they’re not trying to get re-elected, they’ll be practicing their second-best function while in office - assigning blame.
Were your taxes just raised? It’s the fault of the unions.
Did your daughter just drop out of school, get pregnant by your pastor and take up selling dope to kindergartners? Blame the liberal media, organized religion and the lazy, do-nothing DEA.
Could any of these dirty little tales have anything to do with a lax, self-absorbed government? Nyet, their finger-pointing is never inverted toward themselves. They’ll be the first ones to tell you, they’re above reproach. They’re all lily-white lovers of Mom, apple pie and the American way. Whether or not they drive Chevrolets depends on the prevailing public opinion of automobiles and gas prices at that moment.
In what I have found to be an amazing coincidence over the years, these representatives, whose voices are supposed to be reflective of the people they serve, almost always seem to represent the desires of their own political party – regardless of the opinions of their constituents.
If I wasn’t the sweetheart I am, I could swear there’s some cahootin’ goin’ on here.
But I must be mistaken. After all, elected officials would never hoodwink the public or backstab the home folks for personal gain.
Unless you’re living under a rock, or somewhere pretty deep in the forest, you have had to be made aware that the economy in this country is so submerged in the dumper that instead of delivering his next state of the union address, our president plans to read excerpts from “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
So, in typical fashion, our reps have swung into action with the fury of a thousand jungle beasts to right the wrongs and finger the dastardly culprits responsible for our considerable dip into the pool of near-poverty. In this case, believe it or not, these captains of justice, these well-informed do-gooders who have access to more information than a mainlining Google addict, have, after exhaustive research, come up with the reason why the country’s economy is going down for the third time.
Yep, folks, it’s those nefarious evil-doers in bad suits, those public enemies armed with blackboard erasers, wooden pointers and Bunsen burners – school teachers.
Yessiree, Bob.
Not content with introducing the works of such ne’er-do-wells as Shakespeare, Hemingway and Joyce into the virginal thoughts of our innocent young. Not happy with subverting prepubescents by computing Pi to the nth place, not satisfied with putting a major dent in the amphibian world by slicing up frogs, these devious cads are also responsible for high gas prices, the war in the Middle East and Hershey shipping off its candy-making business to Mexico.
It’s not – repeat, not - the fact that there are more far more governmental employees drawing salaries and collecting pensions than at any time in the country’s history. It’s not schools’ administrations adding more and more positions to its already severely bloated payrolls (and just how many vice-principals and assistant secretaries does one school require?)
No, it’s Joe Clark and Mr. Holland and Professor Keating (Captain, my Captain) and Annie Sullivan and Mr. Miyagi.
It’s Einstein, Aristotle, Confucius, Sir Isaac Newton and Pythagoras.
It is teacher salaries and pensions that have come under fire. It’s the teachers, who have the audacity to work only nine months per year, driving us into an economical abyss.
And you think Dr. No was diabolical? The teachers are being fingered by the very pupils they taught to point.
You know, each and every time I think the American citizen can’t get any dumber, he/she somehow manages to drive the national IQ further into single digits.
Is the educational system in this country a hideous joke of incredible proportions?
Of course it is.
But to blame teachers would be like blaming the puppet for a substandard performance of “Punch and Judy.” Are teachers a part of the dung heap of this educational system?
Without question.
But since we’re in the process of pointing fingers, let’s push a digit or two in the direction of administrators, parents and the state and federal governments.
I’ve never been too keen on beginning sentences with, “When I was a kid …” because the statement that follows either has you come off as a cantankerous old coot yelling at children running through his yard or someone so pissed off at how his life turned out he’s attempting to tell you how to run yours. But please, indulge me.
When I was a kid, a teacher was a figure that commanded respect, a figure that was a friend, a mentor, a wise person that would impart a wide variety of knowledge that would help you become a better person and a better citizen.
Their word was law, and if you stepped out of line or impeded other students from learning, your parents would hear of it. And a punishment often followed.
I still believe the majority of teachers are hard-working, well-intentioned public servants.
It’s just too bad parents, administrators and the rest of the lot have somehow gotten in the way of them doing their jobs.
A school day of today bears little resemblance to the one I used to snooze through.
At some point in time, administrators decided any and all complaints from parents had become the new law. So if Junior misbehaves and is given a detention, and mommy and daddy decide Junior is innocent, guess who gets to skip detention? If Junior’s grades are slipping, or have graduated to a complete pratfall, it’s not because he’s blowing off homework, listening to his I-Pod or eyeing up a classmate’s ass during class. It’s because Mr. Clark or Mr. Holland isn’t explaining the material up to snuff.
Stay after class to have it better explained? Not today, I have someplace to go.
Along with the parent who’s convinced their child is an angelic gift from God that couldn’t possibly misbehave, there is the parent that could care less where their little rug rat is, as long as it’s not gumming up their day of shopping, doing their nails or watching the fourth rerun of the “Housewives of Atlanta.”
Their laissez-faire approach to parenting can be rationalized, too: “My wife and I work all day. We do our jobs, let the teachers do theirs.” So the days of mom and dad checking homework, handing out praise and showing at least a smidgen of interest in the lives of their kids has gone the way of washing dishes by hand and sitting around the table for a family meal.
How can a teacher do his or her job when administrators won’t back up their attempts at discipline and parents will either fight them tooth and nail or ignore their existence?
Meanwhile, the federal government, “appalled” at the state of the educational system (who’s kidding who, the cost of the educational system) has decided that in order to lasso the out-of-control Magic Schoolbus, will institute legislation insisting that “no child be left behind.” Translation: When kids fail or get turned down by Harvard, parents and other potential voters acquire insects in their posteriors.
Solution? Every kid will pass, or teachers will be called onto the carpet and federal funding will be cut to the offending school. So what do those principled and strong-willed adminstrators do? They, in no uncertain terms, make teachers understand, very clearly, that no child shall fail.
If he can’t put the letters, A, B and C in alphabetical order? Let him slide. If she can’t spell “cat” after being spotted the C and the A? Hey, that’s OK. She can pick it up next year.
Now, after seeing how their attempts at discipline and parent-teacher relations have met the same fate as pissing up a rope, do you think any teacher is going to buck the system and hand out deserved failing grades?
At the same time, since assigning grades has become a joke, the governmental powers-that-be have decided the true test of how a child is progressing educationally will be ascertained by a number of standardized tests.
No, Professor Keating, instructing children on how to survive in society and how to actually read and speak and add and subtract like an average educated American no longer mean squat.
Your goal, your livelihood, you maintaining your profession depends exclusively on teaching children how to pass a particular test.
No more imparting knowledge, unless that knowledge has something to do with the PSSAs or some other acronymed piece of drivel.
Now, Mr. Senator, you walk into a classroom of kids that can’t be disciplined, with no backing from your superiors and with a lesson plan that was drawn up by Microsoft, and you attempt to teach.
And we’ll judge your re-election on the results.
And whether it’s for “only” nine months a year or nine minutes a day, I wish you luck.
By the way, your ass has been furloughed.


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