My Bad Week ***Or*** How a Stolen Motorcycle Proves that Most Education Pundits Know Nothing About Education.
My brand new, owned it for less than six months, only had 2000 miles on it, motorcycle was stolen Saturday night.
What, you may ask, does that have to do with education policy? So glad you asked. Let me connect the dots for you.
As most anybody would, after I talked with the police I called my insurance agent, whose company will remain unnamed to protect the guilty, to report the stolen bike. Now, an important word in this reporting process is stolen. Filched. Misappropriated. Pinched. Purloined. Gone. In the arms of another.
This is important because a few days after making the report I was contacted by a claims adjuster that made the following request –
“Please make an appointment for us to inspect your vehicle.”
Um… You do understand that because it was stolen, it would be rather hard, you might even say impossible, to have my, again this an important word, stolen motorcycle inspected due to the nature of it being, you know, stolen, and therefore no longer in my possession.
So, I contacted the adjuster and left them a message letting them know that I couldn’t have the bike inspected. What with the being stolen and all. I got another call apologizing for the confusion stating that it is a standardized form and please download this app to continue the process.
On to the internet to download the app.
Aaannndd it wants me to upload a picture of the damage done to my stolen vehicle.
Sigh. The joy of standardized forms.
A major insurance business can’t be bothered to differentiate between a vehicle crash and a vehicle theft. You’d think that might be an important distinction to make as in the business of insurance it would be important to know what you are paying out for, because it could drastically change the size of the check your business needs to write. But no, it’s more important that the process have as little variation as possible to keep the costs down. Never mind that it might cause mistakes and cause you to look foolish.
This is where the connection to education comes in.
For the last thirty years or so, one of the constantly used and loudest refrains from the education reformers is that schools need to be run like a business.
OK. Based on the above business model as demonstrated by a very large and successful business and going on the knowledge that we need to be running schools like a business, this is what I propose:
No more Individual Education Plans for special education students. In fact, no more special education at all.
No more extra tutoring for all the various college entrance exams.
No more special low-cost lunch programs.
I can hear some of you cheering and to this I say not so fast! This mandate includes ALL extra non-standardized education costs.
No more Advance Placement classes for excelling students. (Fun Fact! Did you know that AP classes technically fall under the special education umbrella?)
No more band.
No more arts.
No more football.
No more baseball.
No more basketball.
No more track and field.
No more soccer.
No more sports of any kind.
No more late pick up.
No more early drop off.
Basically, if it does not pertain to the standardized class worksheets it needs to go. Just like in business.
There you have it: education running like a business as requested by the education reformers. I’m sure parents around the nation can’t wait for this system to get going and we all start seeing the results of this standardized business based school system.
“Can I see your badge?”
There is something about women of a certain age that when they ask you to do something you just do it. I guess you could call it the Grandma Reflex. So I showed her my badge and we talked briefly about my job and then she made another comment that threw me a bit.
“I like your hat.”
Now, when an old lady makes that comment most people think of wide brims, loud colors, and feathers. I doubt anybody would think motorcycle helmets. What followed was one of those little life moments that just makes the day.
She told me about her brothers and a sister that rode. There was no hint of jealousy when she talked about her father decreeing that one girl in the family riding was enough. An old Shovel Head was mentioned. Today’s bike, my 1985 Honda Interceptor, was admired. Rides with her husband of 50 years were glowed about and my use of safety gear was praised. The bike she talked about most was a Honda Goldwing that they shared which led to my favorite quote of the entire conversation.
“We could never go too far, too long, or too fast.”
She mentioned that they could no longer ride, and while there was a touch of sadness in her voice the smile on her face demonstrated a joy of remembering adventures. A hint of longing for another ride was also there, the call of the road.
I would have loved to spend more time with her and her husband and listened to their tales but alas the real world called as our lunch orders were filled and we parted ways, they back out into the world and me back to work.
I doubt the entire encounter lasted longer than two minutes but the effect will last much, much longer and I offer my thanks to the universe for letting our paths cross.
Step inside the mind of me.
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