A Quick Word On School (Fore)closures

As a moderately well-educated remnant of the bygone LAUSD era of the 1950s and 60s, I always try to rationalize what I read in the news to see if I can make sense of what initially appears to be a contradictory 2010 American reality. In reading an article yesterday morning in the Los Angeles Times in which a Kansas City superintendent says closing half its schools is painful but the 'right thing to do' I immediately tried to put this event in a global and historical context that might allow us to make the best of what initially seems to be a bad situation.

Let me paint a picture...

The attack on the World Trade Center by Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001 destroyed three buildings -- the two towers by airplanes and Building 7--  and in addition over 3000 human lives were lost. In reading about "the Kansas City school board [having] voted 5-4 Wednesday night to close 29 of the district's 61 schools in an effort to stave off bankruptcy," I wondered whether we might have a better solution to this problem right in front of our faces.

It seems to me in addressing this issue, only two questions needed to be asked and answered:

1. If Al Qaeda -- over winter or summer break when schools are empty -- blew up 29 of the 61 schools in Kansas City, what would our reaction be? Would we tolerate such an attack?

2. If it had been a demolition company from Kansas City, would we have more readily accepted this radical form of urban renewal?

While it might be okay for Americans to blow up our own buildings (or close them indefinitely), letting foreigners do it seems like just another case of outsourcing American jobs. We already have enough problems with using Latinos to pick our food, take care of our children, bus our dishes, build our buildings, and mow our lawns without allowing uneducated members of Al Qaeda take yet another plum opportunity away from our own ignorant population. Americans can surely do a better job of destroying this country's infrastructure than foreigners can!

If Kansas City and other besieged urban school districts could just reopen a few magnet schools, pilot schools, or charters that could teach demolition skills to some "of [the] fewer than 18,000 students, [which] is about half of what the schools [Kansas City] had a decade ago and just a quarter of its peak in the late 1960s," these students might be able to blow up the 50% of the schools that Kansas City no longer feels that it needs -- Americans doing an American job. In using NYC as a model, maybe they could also build a new sports stadium at great public cost that would create good low paying part-time work that some of the "700 employees, including about 285 teachers" who are being fired might apply for.

When one sees the activities of all the large corporations that are jumping on the bandwagon to privatize the $250 billion a year ed biz in this country, one cannot help but sit in awe of how good old fashion Yankee know how -- no offense to you Southerns out there -- can continue to make lemonade out of lemons. While most school districts around the country are closing just one or two schools, Kansas City -- and maybe LAUSD in the not too distant future -- can really clear the way to profit upon the lives of its young people.

There is good historical precedent for a program like this, because any well-educated member of either the English upper or working class will tell you that the worst thing that happened to England was the fact that it won WWII. Both Germany and Japan, whose industrial base was annihilated by the war, got a brand-spanking new industrial base built to modern standards of technology, while the British continued to turn out motorcycles and cars based on the pre-WWII technology of tractor engines.

Until we can get up to speed on the demolition of America, we might offer the more reasonable elements of Al Qaeda H-1 visas as we have in the past to well educated experts from other countries to avoid a demolition gap, so we don't fall behind on corporate America's plan to demolish obsolete American institutions like schools, healthcare, and a democratic government with built in checks and balances -- although, three out of four is not bad so far.



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