Mr. Fitz always seeks to merge the realities of education with a touch of comedy, and his current arc, in which Mr. Fitz takes the title role in a production of "The Music Man," has reached this pointed crescendo.
This is a niche strip, and his audience tends to be his fellow teachers, who nod their heads, chuckle -- perhaps a bit darkly -- and take comfort in knowing that they aren't crazy, that this really is happening and nobody seems to get it.
And, yes, (nearly) nobody outside the profession seems to get it.
Fear of the privatization racket seems kind of paranoid, unless you are seeing it from the inside. Then you realize that, hey, even paranoids have enemies.
Pearson has made millions off the testing alone, while the failure of charter schools to improve student achievement, or even to stay open, shows what a cash cow they are for companies that have little or no interest in teaching.
Meanwhile, the most prominent figures in the move for testing and standards and central control are repeatedly unmasked as frauds and cheats and yet it doesn't seem to make a dent.
Meanwhile this popped up the other day, and, once again, once again, once again, once again, we want the results they get in Finland, but we don't want to change our system to match the one that gets those results.
Here's a more in-depth analysis, and here's a mid-length look, but the bottom line doesn't change: We need to support kids and respect teaching and make a national effort to create schools that work, not schools that "score."
This is not a complicated question: If you're not willing to do what Finland does, how can you expect the results that Finland gets?
We're like the guy who sits in his Barcalounger eating Doritos, watching his athletic neighbor run past the house as he does every day, and swearing he's going to get in shape, too. He's working on a plan, yes, and it's a really good one.
Doesn't involve all that showing off on the street, either.
Fortunately, no system of education will ever eliminate this:
Juxtaposition of the Day
Both strips celebrate an educational constant, the teacher who can be distracted, and I not only heard my sons' descriptions of how they did it, but I remember my own classmates and how we worked the dodge.
My own high water mark came on a Friday in ninth grade when our Earth Science teacher announced at the start of class that he was going to check our lab notebooks at the end.
So about 15 minutes before the bell, I asked him how it was possible that the same side of the Moon constantly faced the Earth and, specifically, I feigned being puzzled over the idea that the Moon's rotation and revolution could be equal.
(Which, by the way, really is kind of amazing, though I suppose there's a physics explanation for why it isn't just off enough so that, if you lived long enough, you'd get to see the whole thing. But I wish it were, especially since I lived long enough to see Halley's Comet and it sucked.)
Anyway, I managed to extend my puzzlement to the point where all the desks had to be moved aside, clearing a space in which one of us was the Earth and our teacher was the Moon and I still didn't get it and then the bell rang and we all had a weekend to get our labs up to date.
Speaking of universal constants ...
But that final point -- though neither Wiley nor I are the first to come up with it -- remains out of reach of an awful lot of people.
And it goes beyond these young'uns today being so dagnabbed sure that they're the only people who know the right way to fry an egg or pour beer or cut up a carrot.
Unlike in the past on what planet?
To return to the first section above, it's one thing not to know how the teachers in grade school actually planned their lessons, graded schoolwork or strategized their classroom management, because those things happen behind the scenes.
But to suggest that this generation of college students is more disruptive and intolerant of controversial speakers than before is a statement of such mind-boggling stupidity that there is no possible response.
So keep right on a-talking
And tell us what to do.
But if nobody listens,
My apologies to you.
And I know that you were younger once,
'Cause you sure are older now
-- Phil Ochs, 1966