A earlier version of this essay was originally published in educational Horizons 78,3 (Spring 2000) 106-108

The Demise of the Common School
Historical Snapshots and Samples, 2002 -- 2090
2000 Edward G. Rozycki

RETURN

edited 2/5/17
 

(Names herein have been changed to protect the innocent from the ravages of the guilty. Any resemblance to persons living or dead or yet to be born is not likely to be accidental. -- EGR)

February 5, 2002. Mr. and Mrs. James Anderson, who send their son, Kenny, to a private religious school, win a suit against the Farleyville, N. C. school district that enables their son to play on the Farleyville High School football team. The Court finds it it a denial of well-recognized property rights unless Kenny can serve on the team his parents' tax-dollars help support.

November 27, 2003: Mass protests with occasional arrests for disorderly conduct occur in Philadelphia after the annual Thanksgiving Day football game between South Philadelphia High School and Bishop Neumann High School. It seems that more than half the players on the SPHS team are students at Bishop Neumann and their lackluster performance on the gridiron is interpreted as their "throwing" the game.

December 12, 2003: Mrs. Geraldine Field wins her suit against the School District of Halfaford Township, Pennsylvania, requiring the district to provide year-around residential schooling for her daughter, Winona. Recently turned fourteen, Winona began last summer uncharacteristically talking back to her mother and refusing to obey simple requests. Expert opinion supported Mrs. Field's contention that Winona suffers from an exaggerated form of Oppositional Disorder. The yearly bill for Winona's schooling will amount to more than $100,000 including the therapy recommended.

December 11. 2004. The school district of Fitzwatertown, Michigan declares bankruptcy and is put into state receivership. The school board dissolves itself. Ex-board president, Samuel Bannister explains that the imminent costs of special educational placements for more than three-quarters of the 3000 children served by the district (more than half of whom suffer from the newly-diagnosed SSTTS -- "special situation transitory Tourette's syndrome) made it impossible to carry on.

February 14, 2006: Occupational therapist, Newton Jobs, reports in Education Minute that sufferers of SSTTS are uniquely occupationally suited, due to its recent resurgence in popularity, to the production of rap lyrics.

May 15, 2008: The State of Nevada does away with compulsory education, 80% of its population having reached the age of 55 or older. "We look to the public spirited and kindly donations from casinos and other private risk-entertainment-providers to supply what little we need for the charter schools of our great state," explained Governor Slim Pickens to a conference of the Nevada Educational Association gathered to explore the theme, "Issues in Educational Right-Sizing."

September 24, 2013: The Supreme Court of the State of Pennsylvania reaffirms its doctrine of sovereign immunity for all school districts in the state. "In spite of the statutes compelling attendance, no school district can be held responsible for injuries suffered by children attending schools in which such injuries have become commonplace," remarked a representative of the Court to the press.

Fall 2020: Thousands of high school football stadia fall into disrepair as, at first, Thanksgiving Day games, then football competition in general is given up. "Our teams lost their identity," explains Coach Sandra Fell, "and then the World Federation Wrestling Football League starting offering high paying jobs to any beefy middle school kid who could juggle a football or an opposing team member."

June 27, 2025: The Chicago school district announces the dismissal of 3000 science teachers in response to voter demand that "Anti-religious Humanistic Modernism" be expunged from the school curriculum. The school boards continued inability to convince district science teacher to devote equal time to Creationism, as well as complaints from Gold Coast residents that sincerely held beliefs in Wicca were treated lightly by the teachers left the board no choice but to close down all science programs in accord with their policy of pursuing diversity.

January 19, 2026: Research having confirmed that lip-service to critical thinking education rather than actual teaching was the practiced norm, a conference of educators, businesspersons and legislators recommends the removal of what has been called "Critical Thinking" or "Higher Order Thinking Skills" curriculum" from all school programs. Anti-terrorist specialists, in particular, express concern for such curriculum supporting, even unwittingly, small cells of potentially subversive Platonic Hegemonists. Spokesperson and award-winning Los Angeles Phillies cheerleading captain, Vinnie Bugle, explains: "All that complaining, y'know, pretending to be real thinking. 'Higher order thinking,' my pom-poms! What makes them better than the rest of us?"

September, 2026: History, too, falls from the curriculum in the great state of California. A Los Angeles schoolboard member explains, "It's like, who knows what really happened? Like, everybody's biased when it comes to history and who wants to dwell on old fights 'n' stuff. Better to, like, forget that stuff and just get along." A UCLA spokesperson from the recently rebaptized Department of Studies Through Time lauded the change, "Like it's about time the public schools gave up those old dogmas about the search for Truth and Objectivity."

May 13, 2032 In what pundits are calling the "Ferris Bueller Effect" the 100th Anniversary of the 8 year study led by Wilford M. Aiken saw results released by ETS that students with home computers and Porsches who skipped school regularly did significantly better in standardized achievement tests, than students who attended classes.

June 17, 2038: Remnants of an ancient Texas educational singing society calling itself the Advil Koresh attract professional attention when their dance and hymn, Stompin' Out Non-behavioral Objectives, hits the charts for several weeks.

October 8, 2039: On the occasion of her 50th birthday, Winona Field looks back on the historic role she played in the transformation of American schooling and remarks, "My Mom never understood. It was just my way of developing into a fully self-actualized human being."

July 4, 2042: The island nation of Nauru reveals that it has conducted an unrestricted 50 year long educational experiment on its entire population. Unveiling what it calls the Brave New World Curriculum, spokespersons report that loosening social restrictions on amatory behavior, on substances otherwise controlled in other societies, on access to computer use accompanied with popular music of the late 20th Century, produces a population that is generally happy and not prone to cause difficulties to the governmental authorities. The curriculum will be packaged under the perplexing codename: S'n'D'n'R'n'R. Nauruan market analysts predict major sales to American geriatric institutions as well as to governmental agencies around the world.

December 1, 2054: Kenny Anderson at 70 years succumbing to football injuries, as well as taunts and sneers, sustained in high school, expires with these final words: "Rosebud...Rosebud. ...That was my computer."

Spring 2077: Government economists together with educational analysts announce that legislation they have devised to address poverty in America is ready to be passed in both houses of Congress. Officially designated Members of the Underclass will be given direct monetary payments to enable them to live in better housing while sending their children to proprietary schools that will teach them middle class values and behavior without undermining their ethnicity, culture, or self-esteem . This approach is seen as far less costly and likely much more effective than 20th century programs in which tax-payer supported schools were expected to make up for lacks at home and in the neighborhood, while inculcating major behavioral changes in only six hours a day of multiple classrooms. Schools 'R' Us CEO, Chester Finn, Jr., announces his support for the legislation, remarking, "It's a gee whiz real piece of American historia!"

Fall 2085: Major American universities have responded to the contraction in graduates from public education by not filling any teaching vacancies over the last 40 years. The very few extant high status schools are nonetheless flooded with applications for honorary degrees which are awarded, according to a formulation from an ancient Princeton catalog, to persons showing promise who meet strict requirements set down by the Development Office.

Fall 2090: George W. Bush, IV, President Pro Sem of the United States declares that with the almost complete dismantling of the public education system across the country, the goals of America 2000, initiated by his great-grandfather on April 18, 1991 have -- in less than a millennium ...uh, make that a century ... been met. Administration Education Czar, Chester Finn, Jr. explains that in the new context of Volunteerism, the goals, like points, ... no, like beacons ... of light shine brightly:

  1. All children in America who start school are ready to learn in an environment of total acceptance celebrated by the motto: "Even planaria can learn!"
  2. There are no more high schools, and so consequently, no high school dropouts.
  3. Surveys have shown that children in grades four, eight and twelve use their minds as well as their parents , employers and elected officials could generally want, making for a more stable and less contentious society.
  4. Private donations and honorary citizenship have guaranteed that the persons recognized as first in the world in math and/or science will be Americans.
  5. As researchers have determined by the Rupert Murdoch Tabloid Index, every adult American possesses literacy skills at a level equal to or higher than a random sample of Bangladeshi field workers, thus assuring their place in the global economy. A majority of members of Congress believe this is sufficient for Americans to exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
  6. CEO's of proprietary school groups around the country report their member institutions to be free of unapproved drugs and violence and offering a disciplined environment conducive to learning something or other.
We conclude this brief report, written in the year 2111 with the comment that the Savage Inequalities much bemoaned in the 20th century have given way to the recognition that "savage" is a term unsuited to the multicultural context of our new century. To quote from the HDTV advertisement so popular of late sponsored jointly by the Building Materials Recycling Corporation and the Feel Better Through Chemistry Council:

Oh, beautiful, for patriot's dream, that sees beyond the years;
Our alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears.
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