I don’t know how it is for other writers, but for me there are moments when subjects that need attention gag me, or lay against me like a slab of cement. They suffocate me and pin me down. I might know too much about them, or I might just intuitively grasp their difficulty, or worse, intuitively grasp the pointlessness of approaching them and sorting them out.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that most, not all, but most readers are immune to even the clearest and most precise arguments. They move about with a sort of dogma as thick as five-day-old porridge that cannot even benefit from being stirred.
Thought will not happen for them, unless it is the same cycle of thoughts they already experience. I’m always amazed how often I run across very heavy book readers, for instance, who cannot think. The books must do the thinking for them. Sometimes, by contrast, I find that people who do not read at all have more facile and flexible minds, but who have gained that capacity in exchange for ignorance. They think ably and quickly, but only over very short distances.
I’ve been lucky to fall in, over the years, with people who can think and who pack in their reading like lumberjacks heavy at their steak and mashed potatoes.
Which is all a lead-in to explaining why I have such a hard time, such an outrageously upsetting and difficult experience, writing about public schools, and most specifically the public school system in New Paltz, which is the one most specifically taking money from me. One time here I described it: “The thing is ten stories high and bearing down on you like a thousand angry beer trucks, and the only thing you can think to say is holy shit this is so out of control, so insane really, that you just do not know where to start.”
I say this having caught on public access, a few days ago, several minutes of the latest school board meeting on the budget. I’ve meant to prepare readers of this blog with a discussion of the paradox of public education, to deal first with the idea that education is essential but as practiced in public schools is deadening and destructive.
As for the local board of education and their CEO, the school superintendant, they are like political bosses soaked with the habits of the institution they pretend to oversee. I heard one of these people talk about how this year’s budget would be “painful” because it could not be expanded rapidly enough to ensure the addition of sports teams at the high school.
This fool spoke as though the money for this institution came wholly out of his pocket, and he was sorry that he could only support an increase this year of X percent, instead of Y.
O!, the pain.
I have words I could use here. Lots of them. Horrible, inflammatory words. Awful insulting words.
But this does not rest with the consciences of these overlord political bosses. It will ultimately rest only with the public, which has to learn to see through the scams and the official talk and the nonsense — to see especially through the hegemony of the teachers’ union, the beneficiary of the largesse of the politcal bosses.
Will the public simply say “No! Dammit! No!” Can the public think of the neighbors down the street, who they might not even know, for whom another increase in taxes will add to an already broken spirit. Can they even think about what they are potentially doing to themselves.
And if I hear one more politician or “activist” from around here talk about the need to do something about school taxes and then acting as if the school district and school board had nothing to do with it, I think that I’m going to run naked down Main Street puking squirrel meat.