The school was wrapped in crime scene tape. When I cast my peepers on the victim, I was shocked. The poor mug had been beaten and robbed.
“What happened here, Ed?”
“It was the same gang that’s been beating me up for years. This time they had vouchers. They’re trying to kill me off.”
Two gangs in cahoots, the Wing Nuts and the School Privatizers, were on a rampage. I caught one of them outside of Goldwaterville and grilled him.
“Yeah. We’d been softening Public Ed up for years, and now, we’re moving in for the kill. What’s it to you, gumshoe?”
“What’s it to me? This week Public Ed’s pockets had been picked clean by the same creeps who’d been working night and day for decades to ensure my kid’s classrooms were overcrowded, underfunded and demoralized. In spite of this, Public Ed was still standing; in the game for keeps.”
The guy told me about their scheme. “Not for long. We got vouchers. We’re taking your kid’s public school tax dollars to subsidize our pal’s private schools.”
Don’t get me wrong. I like charters. A lot of public schools have gone the charter route. But this? Vampires slapping their straws on Public Ed’s pitiful bank account? It gave me a knot in my gut.
“You heard me. We’re bleeding Public Ed dry so we can replace him with our pal’s schools. And the whole scam is being paid for by suckers like you.”
With bigger fish to fry I shoved the weasel back into the darkness. A trail of vandalized schools led me to the “Big House,” the Legislature. I put my ear to the door of the Republican Caucus and heard celebratory gunfire.
“Here’s to our private school investors club! Hoo-whee! This will be bigger than our private prison investments!”
I thought a private school was a private-sector thing. I guess in this instance the word “private” doesn’t mean squat. I thought these jokers hated it whenever they’re asked to subsidize anything in the private sector. I guess sometimes creating a cycle of dependency is a beautiful thing if your pals are involved.
Some mug inside the room told a joke. “Know the difference between a vulture and a voucher? Vultures feed off the dead. Vouchers feed off public schools!” They guffawed. “Here’s to the death of Public Ed!” Champagne glasses were clinking.
I kicked down the door. “There’s no chalk line around Public Ed’s body yet, ya’ creeps. Hands to the sky.” I read them their rights.
One good old boy sneered, “Public schools,” and spat at my feet. “When are you going to stop throwing money at the problem!”
I started cuffing them. “In spending, we’re at the bottom, you cheap suit. You’re a disgrace. The only things you ‘throw at the problem’ are guns, Bibles and flags.”
A fat one scowled, “Yeah, well, public schools are top heavy with admin--”
I got in his face. “Fact. Private schools have higher admin costs than public schools.”
Another good old boy screamed, “Ever since the Supreme Court took prayer out of public...”
“There’s plenty of prayer before every AIMS test.”
“As long as unions ...”
“Sure we got to dump the deadwood. The sick thing is you chumps can’t wait to throw the baby out with the bath water.”
Public school teachers have given this state their lives, their heart and their talent. Not to mention the vow of poverty these mugs ask them to take. I wouldn’t treat a dog the way they treat our kid’s teachers.
“Let me tell you about vultures, pal. When a vulture’s threatened, he vomits to lighten his weight before he takes flight. He’s smart. When you’re threatened, you vomit lies. Public Ed? He still outperforms the average charter in this state in spite of your efforts to kill him off.”
Public Ed is accountable to the taxpayers, unlike their private schools that can do whatever they want — in the shadows. I asked the fat one, “Can you tell me how your private school pals spend our tax dollars?”
He turned up his snout. “We don’t know and we don’t care.” And then he whispered to his pal, “If I only had my gun...”
“Holster your lip, baby face. You want to abandon the Jeffersonian ideal of American public education because Johnny Neutron needs to matriculate to the elite beat of a different drum? Swell! You want to send your Punky Brewster to a private madrassa, to Hogwarts, or to St. Effete’s Academy for the Chronically Over-Privileged? Terrific. You want to take your brood off the grid entirely and home-school them in your bunker-chapel-compound? Fantastic! Just do this taxpayer a favor. Do it on your own dime.”
The sirens stopped. Back up was here. “Book ’em, boys. Take ‘em out of my sight.”