And there I was, surrounded by 27 of ‘em! So I asked, “Was that you or the moose?”
(Overhears the entire conversation, sits quietly and nurses his drink.)
What’s wrong, sir? You look down.
Tonight’s the night. It’s been two years. Two years since my family...since....here. I’ll tell you the whole story. I was stationed on a “secure” base in the war. I thought I should bring my family with me, let them see the sights while I did my job. The base was attacked, and I wasn’t there to help. They were killed in the first strike from the artillery. My wife, and three of my kids. Everyone but my daughter, Sybella. You know how things were then. We weren’t underfunded, but we weren’t ready for that sort of a war. We couldn’t have fought them then. I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t know. Luckily for us, we won’t ever be defenseless again!
If only it were that simple. These fellows drink to remember, whilst me and mine drink to forget. Tonight, I’m drowning my sorrows. I can no longer work as a teacher. My pupils were heroes, the best and the brightest. I worked my fingers to the bone, but when you don’t have the resources you need, teaching is hard. Also, a lack of pay didn’t help. I need to support my family. Your sorrow is appreciated. However, with all due respect, sorrow does not bring my children back to me. Yes, and for that I’m truly sorry. I shall leave you to mourn alone. Must you go? My wife says I’m not allowed out past 2100.
Come on. Next one's on me.
Ah, okay. I’m not a kid anymore. Way to be a man. Hey, you! Care to join us? Me? Yeah, you. It’s not like I have anything better to do.
My name’s Jubal Early.
Cephas. Cephas Terquate.
We have a massive problem. Within this place. Our world is in a decline. The education system is underfunded and useless. You don’t get a chance to learn. Our people need a chance to compete. Won’t you please help us rise? We can stop evil in every port and road. We can kill any who dares defy our truth and justice. But we cannot teach our youth to program a simple script in C++. We have the best in all the world, Our tanks will defeat all yours. You are strong but clearly we are stronger. How can you doubt? We hold a redoubt that makes the rest of the world tremble. Well, if you knew what we are missing in the land of knowledge. You might have a moment of sympathy. If you knew that we are doomed. Would you try to remove our wicked tomb?
What is your problem?!? Do you somehow fail to comprehend the threat to our way of life?!?
Me? Me!? I’m not the one sacrificing future generations for the good of my beloved machines.
You’re right, I’m being irrational. Perhaps I should allow the good Professor, pardon me, ex-Professor, to prove his point. Go ahead. Show me.
Calm down, there’s no need for this sort of conflict.
The barkeep speaks the truth; we have no need for conflict.
One opening of a laptop later....
The recession in 2007 took a serious toll on school financing across the country, and led to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which provided more than $100 billion in education aid to offset budget cuts from the recession. But by 2011, the end to that federal cash infusion, dubbed the funding cliff, was approaching, and state legislatures began cutting deep into their education budgets. As you can see, we could easily cut some money out of military spending for this.
Can the general see what the data tells us? Can the general see what befell us? Will he realize the issue? We were the best. We’ve slipped to join the rest. Will the general see? Will the general figure it out? For we can’t win this bout. When we have messed ourselves up. Are these numbers for real? Unfortunately, yes.
Hmmm. I’ll have to take some time to think about this. Ralph, we have some suggestions to make. Let’s head back to base. Oh, sorry, gotta answer my cell. Hello? Yes? WHAT!?! She what?! Are you kidding me? Not again.... Okay, I’ll be right over. See you in a minute. I’ll be right back.
What got him?
His daughter, Sybella. The police called him. It happens from time to time. He’s had to take her out of five schools now. She gets bored, and then she finds something else to do. Try not to mention it to his Generalship, it’s sort of a sore subject.
Where have I heard that name before? It seems familiar. (Appears to think) Oh, that’s right, on of my students. Sybella Early, huh? A recall, she was one of my brighter students. Hmmmm.
Oh.You’re still here? Well, I might as well introduce you to my daughter. Cephas, this is Sybella. Sybella, Professor Cephas Terquate.
Hi, Professor. How are you? Good. Er, long time, no see, huh?
It’s been 15 hours since you were fired, sir.
So...the two of you have already met, eh? Well, perhaps, Professor, you can explain my daughter’s recent behavior. She has become disinterested in school, and found other hobbies. Remember what we discussed earlier? About the lack of funding? That affects this situation. If we don’t have enough teachers to engage all the students, how can we expect the students to just sit there like good little robots? The evidence is under your nose. You have been affected by both sides of this coin. Your input, general, could affect this situation. Are you implying that I am to blame for my daughter’s predicament?
Not directly, no. I am simply stating that you are in a position where you could make changes that could improve it. How the government spends its money is not as straightforward as you might think. There are all sorts of checks and balances that we must consider. Our little debate of national defense compared to education is merely one aspect of a greater problem. We have seen our problem. We have looked it in the eye. Alas, it has far too many eyes. We can solve one part of this Gordian Knot. It holds far too many twists and turns. We must make a decision as to just what we want. So we bid the General and the others farewell. We have too many alarms for this bell. Think about what you read here. Think about your choice. Choose a method to ensure that you have a voice.
Published on Dec 6, 2012