Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Rewards of Awards

Dear Indigna,

This year the state of California named a record number of schools to the list of “California Distinguished Schools.” Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t California public schools rank, like, 46th in the nation? How can any of them possibly deserve awards? Do the people of California somehow think handing out “awards” will magically make the schools better?

I Smell a Scam
Truckee, CA

Dear Smell,

What, are you kidding me? You must have an Arizona (#50) public school education if you don’t see how this works.

Obviously, the primary function and objective of public schools is to cadge as much lucre from governmental coffers as humanly possible. The way you do that is to have lots and lots of students. When a school gets to put up a “Distinguished School” plaque in its entryway or office, parents naturally assume that guarantees that the school is top-notch. They not only enroll their current children in said institution, but are encouraged and even hounded to produce as many more offspring as they can, enrolling each in turn. The goal is to squeeze as many students as possible into each classroom. Most school districts are hence abandoning the use of space-wasters like “desks” and “chairs,” preferring to have students stand; that way you get the maximum usage out of your square footage.

This influx of students leads to business development in the surrounding area: day care centers, fast food outlets, convenience stores, hospitals, mental health centers and prisons. These new businesses increase the school’s revenue stream through property and sales taxes, enabling schools to hire consultants to figure out more innovative ways to optimize space and child management without having to build more classrooms or hire more teachers. Most schools have discovered that eliminating the “lunch period” results, within just a few weeks, in a dramatic increase in the number of children who will fit into a square foot.

The ultimate goal is, duh!, to have every one of the thousands and thousands of California public schools on the list, which will then be presented to the people who do the rankings as evidence that the Golden State should be #1. I defy anyone to find another state in which every single public school has won a “Distinguished School” Award!

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