Monday, July 29, 2013

Experts for America: Like Teach for America, only Better!

(Dateline: Washington, D. C.) Today, for the second time in less than a month, the U. S. education establishment was rocked by stunning news (See:  NFL Adopts Common Core Playbook.) A secret committee of twenty-five veteran teachers, known as Project 98.6°, and working at the behest of President Barack Obama, today announced results of their deliberations.

Nancy Potts, spokesperson for the group, and a classroom veteran of nineteen years, announced a new federal initiative called “Experts for America.”

The program is to mirror “Teach for America.”

Speaking to a gathering of school reform experts, executives of companies hoping to increase their role in public school education, and concerned politicians hoping to extend their tenure in office, Potts noted that the time to solve the nation’s school crisis was now.

“All the big names in school reform will be involved,” she noted. “Bill Gates. Wendy Kopp, CEO of Teach for America. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.”

These remarks were met with thunderous applause.

“Every expert in this auditorium will play a role. Joel I. Klein, former chancellor of the New York City Public Schools, you will have a chance to teach. Richard Whitmire, acclaimed education author, Davis Guggenheim, producer of Waiting for Superman, Brent Staples, editorial writer for the New York Times. Yes, all of you will have a real chance to teach. Michelle Rhee—the most experienced expert among you, will be your mentor and a colleague.”

Potts had trouble stifling a laugh. 

Quickly, she turned the microphone over to another member of the secret group, Mr. Horace Mann, an Ohio middle school history teacher for the last twenty-four years.

“First, let me tell you what an honor it is to address you all,” Mann began. “Normally, I spend my time in a 25-by-25 foot room, surrounded by hormone-addled teens. Now, here I am, talking to the men and women who do all the talking about fixing America’s schools.

“When our group first met,” he added, “we began by asking, ‘What would be the best way to improve America’s schools?’

“We heard what you were saying. What we really needed, you all said, were better teachers. Mr. Staples, you have no idea how much you helped. When you reviewed Mr. Guggenheim’s movie, you wrote: ‘Public schools generally do a horrendous job of screening and evaluating teachers, which means that they typically end up hiring and granting tenure to any warm body that comes along.’

“That was when we decided to call ourselves Project 98.6°,” Ms. Potts interjected helpfully, again trying her hardest not to laugh.

Mann continued:  “Oh, yes. Mr. Bloomberg, we heard you too. When you said the biggest problem in education was teachers hired “from the bottom 20% of their [college] classes, and not of the best schools” we stood in awe of your brilliance. We listened to you all and suddenly it was clear. Who better to save the children than you here in this audience today?”

“So we came up with a plan: ‘Experts for America,’” Potts noted happily.

“With the aid of the Selective Service and approval from President Barack Obama,” Mann explained, “a new draft will now be instituted. All education experts between the ages of 23-75, all writers of books about education, all executives of companies profiting from ties to public schools, will be subject to call to active duty.”

“We know this may come to most of you as a shock. But you will be committing to work for ten years—minimum—in the toughest public schools. None of that sissy two-year stuff like ‘Teach for America.’” Mann smiled.

“Ten years…I mean…you are committed to saving kids? Right?

“Here are a few assignments we already know:  Mr. Gates, you will teach students with severe behavior disorders at Marvin Gardens High School in Seattle. You will be replacing a teacher who was assaulted last May and has not recovered from a broken nose and jaw.”

“No, no,” Gates was heard to shout from a front row seat. “You don't understand. My education foundation only dispenses advice...”

Mann’s face hardened. “You will do just fine. As for you, Mr. Klein and Mr. Bloomberg, you favored grading schools in New York City. It seems perfectly fitting, then, that you work with some of the 20,000 homeless children in your city. You’ll be evaluated on how they perform on standardized tests. Should they fail to make adequate yearly progress, you will be required to devote another year to ‘Experts for America,’ until you finally get it right.

“We need you, too, Mr. Guggenheim. You made a movie about five wonderful families, all of whom wanted the best education for their kids. You made fixing schools seem simple.

“Now you and Mr. Staples will have the chance. You will work at a special charter school, with children of parents who didn’t sign up for any lottery, who did not care about what school their kids attended. And trust me when I say, parent conferences are going to be great! You will work with the dad who threatened his daughter with an AK-47 when her grades were low. You will be charged with educating the older son of the man who stuck his six-month-old daughter in the freezer to stop her crying. You will teach a disabled boy, born ten years ago addicted to heroin because his single mother was (and still is) a drug abuser.

“You will have the chance to fix it all. And as a bonus, you will work with the son of the mother who chased the principal out of his school last spring. She was wielding a large butcher knife. That happened at my wife’s school.”

Guggenheim and Staples both looked stunned.

“Ms. Rhee, you are going back to D.C. to straighten out the mess in one of the schools where you handed out big cash rewards when standardized test scores dramatically improved—where cheating was soon shown to be rampant and wrong answers on test after test after test were erased. And you will be issued special pencils.”

“Yep, no erasers,” Potts interjected.

When Mann added that Whitmire would be drafted to work alongside Rhee—that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan would be assigned to a Chicago charter school, working only with teen gang members—that Kopp would be joining him—that executives from Pearson, the standardized testing-company, would be sent to Florida to teach in a high poverty school—howls for mercy filled the room.

“The time to turn hot air into action…IS NOW!” Ms. Potts shouted into the microphone. “And don’t worry. You’re all so smart!!! Besides, for the rest of us, watching you fix the schools will mean ten years of fabulous fun!”

Ms. Potts curtsied.

Mr. Mann bowed.

Both smiled broadly and exited from the stage.


  1. Sounds like a solid plan!

  2. This is excellent writting, please send it to bad ass teachers association on facebook.