Sunday, June 3, 2012

Education Reform in Louisana: A Metaphor

Jo Bob's Car Dealership in NY wants to start selling repo'd cars in Louisiana. The cars have no warranties, and Jo Bob sure doesn't drive one (he's got a limo), but he knows he can charge double for these cars if he sells them out-of-state because nobody outside of NY knows Jo Bob's reputation when it comes to selling questionable, after-market cars with no warranties.

So Jo Bob flies to Louisiana in his fancy corporate jet. He starts wining & dining politicians to get their permission to sell his questionable cars in Louisiana. The politicians really enjoy eating Kobe steak and drinking expensive wine, so Jo Bob gets his way.

The governor tells Jo Bob he can come on down here and sell his cars to people in LA. He won't even have to register his cars in LA because the governor feels pretty sure he's going to tell consumers the truth about the quality of his repo'd cars. Jo Bob goes to the same church as the governor, after all - he's gotta be a good guy!

Jo Bob knows lots of poor people live in LA, so he figures out a way to sell his cars here - even to poor folks! He proposes that, if someone wants to upgrade their clunker of a car for one of his cars, the state will pay for it with public tax dollars! It's helping the PUBLIC, after all, right?? "What a great idea - I can make that happen," says the governor!! They celebrate at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, then Jo Bob flies the governor to NY in his private jet for a week to raise some money for his wife's foundation. (It's for the kids, of course.)

Word gets out about Jo Bobs car deal, and ol' Mary Lou decides she doesn't like her 1992 Dodge Caravan. It runs, and could be fixed - but she is unemployed, has four kids, a deadbeat ex-husband, and a mortgage she can't pay. Mary Lou hears that she can get a "BRAND NEW CAR" from Jo Bob, who is a fancy car salesman from NY - and she can get her new car for FREE because the governor passed a law saying: if you don't like your car, lemme get you a new one on Mike Stone's nickel just because I'm a swell guy & want you to have the best car EVER.

The governor tells her, "We'll just send the monthly car note to good ol' Mike Stone (a random name) and he'll cover it for you. ln fact, I'll guarantee that Mike will pay that note for you," says the governor," because I'll deduct it out of his paycheck! Now, I won't let him vote on it...I'll just get all the wined & dined legislators to vote in Jo Bob's favor because Jo Bob sure seems to have a sweet deal going in NY, and ALL the politicians in NY love him, and he's spent ALL this money wining & dining us. It's a win/win situation for everybody! And good ol' Mike is legally obligated to back us on this decision because I committed to the deal with Jo Bob two weeks ago while Mike was in the hospital recovering from a near-death experience!"

The governor listens to Jo Bob while they're lounging at the Country Club one Wednesday. Jo Bob assures him that can sell more cars than Yokem, Wray Ford, Red River Chevy and Holmes Honda combined. The governor know these dealerships have been here for a long time, built the economy, warrantied their cars, contributed to the tax base, created lots of jobs, and been generally good corporate citizens, but heck, they don't WINE AN DINE US like Jo Bob does!

Jo Bob is the charter school industry.

You are Mike Stone, buying questionable cars for other people against your will.

Mary Lou is the parent who doesn't get involved in fixing public education because she's just trying to survive a crappy economy and raise her kids the best she knows how. Now, she's gonna have an un-warrantied car which may or may not get her & her children to work and school. Oh, and by getting a car from Jo Bob, she forfeited public transportation for her & her kids FOREVER.

The existing car dealerships are our public schools - they were doing what they were supposed to be doing based on the rules they'd been given, but now the rug's been pulled out from under them and they're scrambling to compete on a suddenly unequal & largely politicized playing field.

And Jo Bob is laughing all the way to the bank. He'll cash out & fly back to NY, leaving a few cars sputtering along I-20 for a year or so until their owners realize they'd have been better off buying a dang used Honda from Fred, their next-door neighbor who works at Holmes Honda. But no one can do that now because Holmes went out of business when everybody decided to buy Jo Bob's shitty cars, and his next-door neighbor Fred is now unemployed & living on welfare in his mom's basement.

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