August 1998, Volume 5 Nr. 12, Issue 60
Wells, Vermont is about to become as famous as Roswell, New Mexico. Apparently, aliens have visited Area 30 and abducted more than a half dozen people. The abduction, carefully orchestrated, bypassed the average townspeople. Instead, the abductors chose their victims from a select group - those entrusted to care for, guide, counsel and educate the communitys children.
The aliens, competent and uncompromising, sucked out the brainpower of the education populace. Decimating the towns ability to academically lead the next generation into knowledgeable adulthood, the aliens left behind an institution shy on personnel and a village wondering "why?"Other World
The reality of the world today combines traditional education with technology. There are those, however, who stubbornly cling to romanticized images of the one-room schoolhouse - images from a bygone era best suited for placement as curiosities in cute tourist books. .
Wells, a town just shy of 1,000 people in southwestern Vermont, is a wonderful, geographically and strategically well-situated small town. Vermont and its half-a-million people, invite three-to-four times that number to visit each year in order to financially help support the State through tourism.
Vermont is considered by many throughout the nation to be an "other world." The description of Vermont as a "socialist" state is recognition and respect for an ideology accepted by a broad spectrum of working people.
Vermont is also home for the only independent member of the House of Representatives, Congressman Bernie Sanders, also a socialist (soon to be running for his fourth term in office).
The Green Mountain State, often referred to by Conservatives as the Socialist Republic of Vermont, has much to offer the resident and the visitor alike. Perhaps, this is why the alien visitors chose the other worldiness of the Green Mountains for a visit.Sticking Out
I ask you, if you were an intergalactic space traveler looking for an intriguing human community to explore, wouldnt you choose Wells, Vermont? Imagine finding, in a sea of progressive thinking and dedication to doing whats best for children, a culture so anomalous, that from thousands of miles out into space, it sticks out begging to be explored.
Many Vermont small and medium size towns, with populations ranging from 800 - 5,000, who maintain a religious adherence to conservative views, are doing unjustifiable harm to their children through slashing school budgets, programs, salaries and transportation.
The town of Wells, in which our family lives, is a good indicator of the potential damage that provincial, rural, isolationism can inflict upon the young - all in the name of stopping the "tax and spend liberals." The term liberal, a label which long ago lost its significance, but which remains well-ingrained in the post World War II mindset, is daily reinforced by A.M. radio talk-show jocks. These agents of division, whose intelligence parallels the low frequency of their broadcasts, purport to tell the people the truth. It is astounding how many people listen and take what they hear from these purveyors of mean-spiritedness as gospel.Deeper Than That
Wells is but one town, in a large country of thousands of small rural and suburban communities who would prefer that the world remain outside their town limits. The shortcoming of its vision however, is much deeper than that.
Imagine, less than a year-and-a-half away from the year 2000, an influential member of a Board of Education publicly stating their philosophical opposition to technology in the classroom! Even more appallingly, the Board (as a group) declared a moratorium on technology. While the nation and the world grapples with the computer millenium bug (Y2K), the Wells Village School has already solved that problem by not having enough computers to worry about it.
Aside from misguided philosophy, there are deeper questions regarding professionalism and/or treatment of the professional staff. Imagine a Board of Education calling its teachers to stand before it and asking them to justify consumable classroom expenses such as pencils, rulers and paper; defending, item by item, an approved expense account!!!
In its attempt at saving a penny, and preventing the staff from buying one more pencil or ruler than absolutely necessary, much respect has been lost. The Board, showing little respect for the teachers, lost respect for themselves. In turn, according to the biological axiom, "like tends to beget like", respect for the towns school and for the town itself is lost. Worse - while the slash-and-cut protagonists were busy counting pencils, the teachers simply disappeared.
Residents are concerned. Knowing that a towns desirability can be judged in part, by the reputation of the school, property owners are fearing the teacher abduction episode will lower real estate values. (It already has).Everywhere
On November 20, 1997, a press release from Rhode Island Senator Jack Reeds office, described a bill whose intent is to overhaul the way in which teachers are prepared and to "address an anticipated national teacher shortage".
Senator Reed, perhaps privy to the alien teacher abduction phenomenon in Wells (and other locales), has introduced a bill, called the Teacher Excellence in America Challenge (TEACH) Act of 1997, which would overhaul the way teachers are trained and paid. It appears that good qualified instructors are difficult to find, especially when one considers the low wages and high disrespect many towns have for teachers.
Based upon the proceedings of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, Senator Reeds bill attempts to meet the impending teacher shortage of the future head on. Reeds office is alarmed by the loss of teachers.
Senator Reed found that no more than 12% of all newly hired teachers even have a minor in their main teaching area. (That figure rises above 30% for mathematics teachers.) While these figures are poor, in the areas of study most relevant for the future, the technology-based skills and training, they are much worse.
The LEIT 597 Internet website, an Independent Research Project on education, concludes that,
In the past five years, the availability of new instructional technologies for educators has accelerated. Understanding those technologies and their appropriate use in the classroom is becoming essential in today's schools. Unfortunately, the complexities and the implications of these technologies are a formidable barrier to actual classroom utilization.
Technological complexity becomes insurmountable when Boards of Education do not even recognize their significance. Ignorance, being bliss, negates the complexity through an aversion of reality.
Though a philosophical opposition to technology may be a personal choice, foisting it upon children, who as adults, will live a technological reality, is criminal. Perhaps, this response to technology is an example of classic psychological projection.
A vibrant, well-supplied and integrated one-room schoolhouse can be great, providing mixed ages and individual focus, like a good home school. However, the notion that the one room schoolhouse of our parents and grandparents is good enough for our kids is a coverup for our shortcomings in understanding technology and denies our children the tools society requires to succeed.
I have hearing people say, "I didnt have a computer and I turned out fine and so will my kids." These are the same people that are saying that one computer per classroom of twenty or more students is adequate. It is not.
Though having access to computers in the classroom does not guarantee success, not having one does place limitation on possibilities. Perhaps, it may be too late for some adults to learn new tricks and benefit from technology. To deny young people the tools now necessary as a result of our own shortcomings and fears is submitting to the egomania self-importance.National Evidence
There is an increasing national body of evidence which suggests that Wells might not be alone in its alien abduction phenomenon. It appears that whenever schools are "visited", a recognizable trail is left behind. This trail, intended to influence the young in the ways of the aliens, is surreptitiously placed where it will influence the young minds in the most efficient and devious manner. A close examination reveals the presence of much alien propaganda.
A July 19, 1998 report by AP National Writer Jerry Schwartz, appearing in the "Nando Times News", revealed that inspectors investigating thirty public schools have found alien writing including Pepsi, Otis Spunkmeyer (cookies), display cases with logos for Snapple, Excedrin, textbook covers promoting Nike, Pringles, Calvin Klein, contests sponsored by K-Swiss and MacDonalds, etc.
John E. Macks book, Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens, may have been discredited by anti-alien fanatics, however, Schwartz lends new evidence that they may have been wrong. Schwartz reports that in Grapevine, Texas, a middle school has placed a Dr. Pepper billboard on the roof to advertise to passing aircraft. Coke and Pepsi sports scoreboards, given to schools free of charge in educash-strapped America, are sprouting up everywhere. In mid-July, a large banner was hung outside the Pawlet, VT firehouse, ostensibly advertising a community firemens auction. The banner invitation however, had a large green Mountain Dew logo on one side and a Pepsi logo on the other.
In a state which prides itself for not having any highway billboards (it has been illegal since 1968), these signs conspicuously alert the passerby to the presence of alien lifeforms and influence. Yet, schools like the Wells school are more and more looking into corporate sponsorship of activities, programs and education.
How easy it is to cut programs and then have the kiddies go home and beg grandma, mom, dad and the neighbors to buy junk from fund-raising kits whose products are made in the inhumane slave labor prisons and sweatshops of China (and other countries). The same people who would criticize the president for dealing with China are somehow not "philosophically opposed" in having their communitys children hawk that countries cheap wares in order to support the school. Amazing. While the progressives are accused of being socialists, it is the conservatives who trade in communist produced goods. Go figure.
And what better proof of alien presence can one ask for than the electronic cerebral invasion of Channel One. Schwartz writes.
In mid-July, JeanneE and I attended a citizens working group meeting (CWGM) to discuss responses to the quickly deteriorating conditions at the Wells village elementary school. The wonderful school building accommodates over 100 students, and till recently, a full complement of teachers. Though underpaid (Wells school ranks 157th out 164 in State elementary school compensation) for the most part they were committed and dedicated professionals. They are no more. Every teacher except two quit, resigned, moving on for "personal reasons." So did the principal.
The CWGM brought up many concerns regarding the X-File-style departure of the instructional and administrative staff. One of the 15-year veteran teachers at the school, upon her disappearance, left her classroom devoid of signs of life. Not only personal effects, but supplies, such as pens, pencils, paper, books, music, art, art supplies, games, etc., were beamed up and vanished.
The disappearance of teaching paraphernalia (for greener pastures) came about when the teacher disappeared along with her personal effects. The classroom was left almost completely bare. It appears that this teacher was buying, out of her own pocket, classroom materials which the school could not afford to buy or which it refused to spend the money on. Better to buy it yourself than to have to ask the bureaucracy to get it for you, especially when you know what the answer is bound to be. Its much less hassle getting it yourself than having to justify buying it to the Board.
Americans have been trained to expect such occurrences in countries where the vast majority of the population is poor or destitute. But here, in the United States, the richest country on Earth, where the economy is booming and Wall Street is king? Impossible, you would think. Yet, in the Wells school, there was hesitation to make an emergency request for funds to buy toilet paper. The late Frank Zappa, prophetically wrote and sang in the 1970s, "And, they said that it couldnt happen here " It has.Dangerous Bathrooms
The Campbell Soup Company administers a program called, "Labels for Education." By simply registering the school with Campbells, the school community can " begin immediately collecting labels to get FREE stuff for your school." Perhaps, we could collect Campbell Soup labels and for every 1,000 labels we could redeem them for a case of Scott toilet paper. We can then, as the Campbell Soup Company says,
The added benefit of exchanging a kilocoupons worth of Campbell Soup Labels for Scott tissue towels would be the prevention of Bolsheviks in our bathroom!
In the 1930s, the Scott Tissue Towel company advertised its washroom products through a poster with the heading, "Is Your Washroom Breeding Bolsheviks?" (Bolsheviks being in big red letters). The premise of the ad was that if the toilet paper used on ones behind were not soft enough, workers would become so dissatisfied that they would transform themselves into Reds. Scratchy behinds might not breed Bolsheviks but, soft ones may encourage aliens.Misplaced Anger
One of the school board members made the public comment recently that they would not send their child to the Wells village school as they considered it to be inadequate. The inadequacy is quickly becoming the status quo.
Troubling is the fact that during the annual local town meeting, discussion takes place around taxation issues, how to lower them, etc., but, rarely does the citizenry question the irresponsible expenditure of federal tax money for the military industrial complex. President Clintons budget calls for $1,600,000,000,000 (1.6 trillion) for the military between now and the year 2002.
If enough people cared they could, perhaps, finally, start addressing the real nature of the problem. Towns such as Wells, VT, require a shifting of federal priorities from trillion dollar military misspending to paying good teachers decent salaries and buying the schools all the toilet paper they need.
In 1997, Congress gave the Pentagon twenty B2 bombers that the military admitted it did not need. If we did away with the planes we could immediately funnel a billion dollars to thirty of the most needy states to help solve the most pressing educational needs. We could also suggest that if Congress insists on buying the planes, they could hold bake sales to help fund their purchases.
While some are quick to criticize an English as a second language (ESL) program or special education, nary a peep is heard about Ken Starrs 40-million dollar fruitless multi-year investigation of Bill Clintons supposed sexual misconduct. Why not?
Perhaps, it is the because the most vulnerable are easy targets. Cutting back on services for children takes little effort and the children in elementary school are not about to fight back - though they can be coerced into selling tchotske door-to-door. Poor people have few resources with which to organize and few have the wherewithal to do so or can take the time away from trying to make a living. Thus, anger and frustration can be easily directed and expressed locally. It is much easier to react than to think, organize and act.
In time, there will be little choice. As the distribution of wealth continues from the poor and the middle class up to the top through the privatization of everything, eventually the public schools may cease to exist. Parents will then have to provide transportation on their own as their children head to private schools that they may have to fund out of their own pockets. What a bargain will that be. Does anyone seriously believe, for example, that as in the case with Wells, Vermont, a student can be educated for the present going public high school per pupil cost of $4,400? To believe so, just might be the result of multiple alien abduction and reality disallignment.Quotes
Fun and Games Park.
Center For Defense Information. Third
World Traveler. "1998
Military Spending: Behind the Numbers: How the Pentagon is
Spending your Money."
Museum of Cultural Kitsch. Beware
of those Restroom Rooskies! I
Reed, Jack. News Rhode Island -
US Senator Jack Reed. "Reed offers bill to overhaul teaching training in U.S.
Schwartz, Jerry. nando times news "Are
our public schools for sale to advertisers."
© 1998 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski