High Desert Sketches: American education or not

Art by Valerie “CrowCrumbs” Howard

As a child, I was always critical of the American education system. In my first year at Grim Elementary, I wanted to know how they got “the three R’s” out of reading, writing and arithmetic, as each word started with R, W and A. The world had yet to discover Google; otherwise, I would have found there was a 1911 song that started the whole mess. The song went:

School days, school days

Dear old Golden Rule days

‘Reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic

Taught to the tune of the hick’ry stick

Miss Steele did not have a hickory stick, but she did wheel a mean ping pong paddle, which she broke on my little behind the first day; she managed to break two more before the year was out. Of course, discipline has gotten much different in the ensuing half-century plus. I am aware of this because of recent articles explaining equipment given to the 405-member police force of the Los Angeles Unified School District. Those L.A. kids, from kindergarten to 12th grade, must be much tougher than me and the kids from the housing project, because the LAUSD received 61 M16 assault rifles, three grenade launchers, and a tank-like MRAP from our generous military.

As the largest and best-armed school police force in the country, it must be that they are super prepared to rebuff the invasion of the COVID-19. Yet, Trump recently stated to Fox & Friends: “This thing is going away, it will go away like things go away. My view is that schools should be open. If you look at children, children are almost, I would almost say definitely, but almost immune from this disease. So few. Hard to believe. I don’t know how you feel about it but they have much stronger immune systems than we do somehow for this. They don’t have a problem.” However, the most recent study shows that the virus is being spread by the youngest segment of our society. Ten percent of the population is infecting the other 80%. When schools start, expect these figures to explode. Several universities across the country have opened and closed in the same week because of party-happy students.

Since my school days, I have always liked order but mistrusted authority. COVID-19 has reinforced my mistrust of authority figures, particularly President Tweet, the Texas governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, otherwise known as the “Swamp Thing and his Three Amigo Egos.” There is no better understanding of the COVID-19 plague than to hear the Swamp Thing explain his understanding of numbers. Check his grasp of the present situation in an interview with Jonathan Swan at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaaTZkqsaxY. The interviewer attempted to tell the Tweetster that more than 1,000 people a day were dying of the virus. But the Tweetster could not conceive that it was true because it was not on one of his charts.

President Tweet does not realize that the deadliest virus to hit America in 100 years is not stopped by lies, half-truths and unthinkable irrational ranting –– not to mention his attacks on science and the medical profession. These ramblings have not stopped the virus or properly informed the general population and have only convinced the Tweetster’s political base. His irrational rantings have cost us tens of thousands of human lives. He is incapable of leadership.

If COVID-19 has resurrected itself because of our school situation, it’s due to two types of males of our species. The first is Joy Boy, a man-child who must surround himself with other people, loud music, booze and female companionship. The second type is the Macho Man. This specimen feels he can justify anything if he feels it interferes with his personal freedom and ability to choose his own path through life regardless of rules or regulations. Both are convinced that their personal privileges are guaranteed by something in either the Bible or the Constitution of the United States, although neither type has read either of those documents. Both men have two things in common: their manhood is determined by the size of their truck or car engine, and their IQ and shoe sizes are the same number. In a rare burst of humor, the Germans refer to these two fellows as COVIDiots.

On a happier note, last spring, the Federal Communications Commission added Big Bend Telephone to the list of less than 50 companies nationwide who are recognized for going above and beyond to help consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the FCC noted that BBT had:

• Increased the speeds of all customers for a period of time

• Offered two months of free broadband to new customers

• Suspended data overage charges

• Extended school district networks to students without access

• Provided Wi-Fi to first responders and utility technicians

• Established Wi-Fi hotspots for educational purposes

• Established community open Wi-Fi access in strategic community locations across service areas