Too Big to Flunk

FROM: The Secretary of Education
TO: Congress
After a decade of plummeting graduation rates, declining test scores, and a spike in plagiarized essays on “The Scarlet Letter,” confidence in the public-school system cratered on Friday morning.  By late afternoon, educators were requesting aid from legislators through smoothly transitioned five-paragraph letters with an introduction, compelling thesis statement, and conclusion.

We must act immediately, with a comprehensive $787 billion bailout package and free supplies of LePage’s glue.  The public school system is simply too big to flunk. Principals and other scholastic leaders convened with the Department of Education over the weekend in an emergency “time-out” session in the corner of their main office, facing the wall.  Three school superintendents carpooled together to the capital and, in a major PR gaffe, were marked tardy.  We have sent a note to their parents.

The plan we are suggesting would start off next week with several long-term projects involving construction paper, in an attempt to put idle kindergarteners back to work.  To stabilize the reward scheme, all elementary schools will switch to the gold-star standard.  After the first $29 billion, the government would also assume 90% of red-ink losses.  To assuage the fears of parents who are considering relocation to Mumbai, the Federal Didactic Insurance Corporation will now guarantee math instruction up through trigonometry.  Calculus is another matter. What is it, for one thing?

The proposed infusion of large new supplies of staple guns and cafeteria butter comes as one of the first steps in an eventual restructuring of an organization with profound problems.  To wit: For a lower cost, Japanese schools routinely produce students with 6% higher IQ scores and more polite trash talk.

I acknowledge criticisms of the plan within the department, with opponents denouncing it as a move toward “socialized” education.  “We are losing sight of the ideals of Horace Mann,” a senior advisor said, referring not to the 19th-century education reformer and proponent of public funding for schools, but to the elite Horace Mann School in Riverdale, New York, which charges tuition of $34,050.

The advisor also voiced concerns about any money finding its way to ACORN (Association of Cast-Off and Rejected Nerds), the organization that has been under investigation for an alleged homework-for-jocks scandal.      

If you need to reach me, I will be out of the office tomorrow for Parents’ Day at the Sidwell Friends School.

Teddy Wayne’s debut novel, “Kapitoil,” will be published by Harper Perennial this April.