Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reflections on a Gradebook

I spent most of today running errands.

First there was a visit to the dentist, which is something I generally put off for as long as possible and then some. I really hate the whole process – and, in fairness, since I don’t do well with people sticking things in my mouth, most dentists aren’t all that keen to see me either – but I’m old enough now to know that I’m better off for going, so I go. Eventually.

Then there were other errands – a trip to the hardware store, another to the grocery, and finally one to the office supply store so I could replace the gradebook I’ve been using for the last few years. It’s full now – a good sign of employment in these parlous times – and I needed a new one. Eventually, after searching through aisles and aisles of office supplies I found what I was looking for. Same brand. Same style. Even the same color.

But with one key difference.

The old gradebook could accommodate thirty-five students per page. The new one has slots for fifty.

This bothers me, and for more than just the fact that I now have to cram everything into 30% less space and my eyes are not as sharp as they once were. It bothers me because there’s no real savings to the manufacturer to make that change – it probably cost them more in ink, as a matter of fact.

What it says to me is that the general trend in this country over the last decade or so of slashing education in order to fund tax breaks for the already wealthy – of shortchanging our future in order to plunder the present for the benefit of the few – the natural result of which has been ever-larger classes and ever-smaller educational results, that trend has now become institutionalized in the very products people make to service the educational market.

It’s like when major cereal manufacturers began listing nutritional information in Spanish on the boxes – money talks and zealotry walks, and the whole “English-only” movement died an unmourned death at the hands of Spanish-speaking consumers. When the products you buy conform to the new reality, the new reality is here to stay.

The new reality is bigger classes, fewer dollars for education, and shrinking prospects for the American future.

Not coincidentally, today is the day that recall signatures come in for Governor Teabagger and his cronies, who have slashed over a billion dollars out of Wisconsin's educational system in order to give that money to their wealthy puppetmasters. Having epitomized the crass power-grabbing, money-grubbing, anti-American agenda of the extreme right wing, having assaulted the rights of ordinary American citizens to vote, speak, assemble, and control their own lives, now the reckoning is starting to come due.

Apparently over one million people signed the recall petitions for Governor Teabagger – about double the minimum requirement and as a percentage of the electorate more signatures than any recall in American history. His lead minion in the legislature has also been recalled, with 25% more signatures than required. Indeed, quite a few of Governor Teabaggers cronies, minions and lackeys have been recalled.

Remember how they said they’d be recalling the Democrats too? Not one. Not even a serious attempt at one.

So it’s a historic day here in Wisconsin. I have little doubt that Governor Teabagger and his cronies, minions and lackeys will continue to rig the game, play with the rules, and – as a last resort – blatantly steal the election if they have to. They’ve already done that, so doing it again won’t seem so hard for them.

But perhaps they will fail this time.

In the meantime, school budgets get smaller, class sizes get bigger, and manufacturers adjust their products to fit the new reality.

1 comment:

beatrice in Paris said...

Yeah for the recall petitions!