(Readers: Please note this blog is constructed as a story about a revolution in the United States. While not all chapters are linked, I think the story will be more meaningful by starting at the beginning.  Read a few segments a day and you will catch up quickly.)

Scene: Jordan’s Office.  Follow-up to earlier meetings with JC.

Jordan:  “JC, nice to see you.  All OK?”

JC:  “Yes, everything is fine Jordan.  But why do you start meetings so early?”

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Jordan: “Because I know you like to get up and at ’em.  By the way, where is Sir Ralph?”

JC:  “He’s the only smart one.  Sleeping.  That’s where I should be.”

Jordan:  “Ok.  Let’s pick up where we left off. A lot of people want practical ideas on how to improve education in the US. You agreed to put some ideas together. So start.”

JC: “The first issue is the need to rebuild the public education system in this country. This country was built on a quality free public education.  It is shameful we are taking tax dollars and putting them into private schools and so-called charter schools letting the public schools deteriorate.”

Jordan    “Keep going.”

JC: “You and I and several generations of Americans got a great education in public schools. By the way, I hope you do not mind. When you were on your call I asked Greenie to join us. She really understands education.”

Jordan: “Great. Have not talked to her for a while. How is she doing?”

JC: “Much better. She’s on her way over. And speaking of the devil…”

Jordan: “Hi Greenie. Been a while.”

Greenie: “Jordan, great to see you. Disappointed in the company you keep. Hi, JC.”

JC: “Thanks for the compliment. We just started to talk about the importance of public education.”

Greenie: “You guys know my story. My sophomore year in high school, my parents shipped me off to private school thinking I’ll get a better education. One year in private school and I came back to public school.”

Jordan: “What were the issues?”

Greenie: “First, classes in private school were not as challenging as our public school. Granted, in public school we were all in accelerated classes. I think they call those advanced placement classes now. You’d think private school would be more difficult. But it wasn’t.”

JC: “What else?”

Greenie: “Diversity among the students was minimal. Almost all white, upper-income kids. Was like being in a bubble.”

Jordan: “Anything else?”

Greenie: “Attitude. For the administration and a lot of the parents – and some kids – money seemed to be the key issue. Which families had the most money. And the school always seemed to want more money.”

JC: “Money. That sounds like a conversation Jordan and I had. About another institution of higher learning – his synagogue.”

Jordan: “OK you two, what about the proposal? How are we going to recreate a system offering quality public education?”

Greenie: “For me the first step is a commitment to public education. Not just public education but quality public education.  Such a commitment used to be bi-partisan. Now it seems as if Republicans believe only private schools can provide a quality education – private and charter schools, I should say.”

JC: “The commitment to quality public education must include decent pay for teachers. I am still dumbfounded by the legislature in North Carolina taking away all incentives for teachers to get an advanced degree. Then the legislature cut the number of teaching assistants.”

Greenie: “Did I read also that while cutting funds for public schools, the NC legislators gave more money to charter schools?  Something like 36 more charter schools for one year..and 50 or more the next year!”

JC: “I understand the idea of charter schools but charter schools eat away the very heart of quality public education. I do not agree with charter schools accessing public funds for what is effectively a private school.  Charter schools in essence cherry pick students.”

Greenie: “The NC model for education seems to be completely backwards from what is required for a quality public education system. Were the changes a disguised move to re-segregate the schools? Sure seems like it.”

Jordan: “My opinion, yes. In fact, emphatically yes about re-segregating. Many people in the south still resent Brown v. Board of Education and the elimination of separate, but equal.”

Greenie: “What you’re saying is charter schools effectively overturn Brown.”

Jordan: “Exactly. The goal seems to reinstitute Plessey v. Ferguson and separate but equal, but really unequal. Further, because some public schools are below full capacity, the legislature will not allocate funds for capital improvements or acquiring new technology.”

JC: “So Jordan, how much latitude do you and others have to make change in the education system? Who is in charge, really? What is your role?”

Jordan: “I’m functioning like a chief operating officer of a company. My role is trying to bring people together who can help rebuild different organizations. The organizations need to address problems that precipitated the revolution. Once we get the groups organized, not sure what my role will be, if anything.”

Greenie: “In the meantime, you are the HMFIC.”

Jordan: “Well, #2 HMFIC.”

JC: “What is a HMFIC?”

Greenie: “I’ll tell you later, but let’s just say he’s in charge of most stuff. Sorta like Joseph and the pharaoh.”

JC: “OK, I got it.”

Jordan: “So I’m hearing we need to stop funding charter schools and start focusing on improving public education.  What’s the first step?”

Greenie:  “The first step being increasing teacher pay.”

JC: “At the same time, we need to increase qualifications for teachers. You…we want to attract people who want to teach but also who are well educated. Put some respect back into the profession. With the right pay and some respect, we will get people considering a career in private industry to start teaching.”

Jordan: “Speaking of qualified teachers, I remember Ester ‘What?’ Cohen in math class. What a great teacher.”

JC: “She was tough, demanding and motivational. I really learned a lot of math under her.”

Greenie: “Think about the number of great teachers we had – math, several in English and a bunch of others. I continue to be amazed at their skills.”

Jordan: “I agree. Now, what about school facilities?”

JC: “School facilities need to be adequate but society seems more concerned with how a building looks than what is being taught inside. Older buildings are OK as long as wired for the internet.”

JC: “Funny how some college campuses are revered for older buildings.  The NC legislature will fund new buildings, as long as the buildings look like something out of the Ivy League.   They must equate how a building looks with quality of education.”

Greenie:  “As a society, we seem to insist on newer facilities, especially athletic facilities, rather than insisting on quality instruction in English, math, sciences, history and some other basics.  A disconnect on priorities there?”

Jordan: “I agree. New facilities should be a low priority as long as basic needs are met. More emphasis on the curriculum?”

Greenie: “We also have to recognize that students have different skills.  Not everyone needs to be on a college track.”

Jordan:  “Hold that thought Greenie.  My apologies for the interruption but I have to take this call.  Get some coffee and we’ll continue the conversation.”

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