In Our Time

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

          – J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, book I, chapter 2

Those of you who follow Quilly’s blog know that, as of today (15 March 2008), she has two weeks off from tending her pre-K students.

Two blessed weeks.

Might be just enough time to get the bandages off the less severe wounds.

Say what, Amoeba?!?

Ah. But you, fellow blogger, get to read Quilly’s Art Linkletter stories. Kids Say (and Do) The Darndest Things and all that. Laugh, kookaburra, laugh.

You do not get to read about the poverty, parental/guardian (ahem) misfortune, and institutional incompetence that put these already-challenged children behind the eight-ball way before they have a chance to learn what an eight-ball is.

You do not get to read about classroom resources that fall well short of what Federal law requires, because the Federal and State governments are bickering over which of these two bankrupt institutions is going to come up with the money to allow the school to obey the law. And because the State bureaucracy is so efficient, that if by some miracle it actually should receive the money for those resources this coming Monday, the school might see half of it in time for the start of the school year. The 2010 school year.

The commenter who asked Quilly “is there any time here in Hawai‘i that is NOT Spring Break?” is invited to spend a few minutes with the Hawai‘i Department of Education, and a few days trying to pay for the double-the-cost-of-the-mainland roof over your head with what the HDoE pays its employees, and learn the error of his ways.

You do not get to read about the warehouse-filling dossiers that the staff need to assemble in order to document circumstances that threaten a child’s education – nay, the child’s life – so that the staff may present the data to the Authorities, the Official Representatives of We The People, and be told …

… that they can do nothing.

Bill Simmons, over at ESPN, posted a story about a funeral he attended recently. A funeral for an athlete who died young in Los Angeles. Of 17-year-old Jamiel Shaw Jr., who, despite his modest means, did just about everything right. Except, stand on the wrong streetcorner and get gunned down by a gang member fresh out of jail, who mistook Shaw for a rival on the mean streets.

Simmons described, in full profit-mongering detail (or at least as full as ESPN’s word count rule allowed) the circumstances of Jamiel Shaw Jr.’s life and death. Including, among those circumstances, a public school system so debilitated that competition for places in private schools, and the few reputable public schools, begins in pre-K.

The overarching message of Simmons’s piece?

It’s too bad. But nothing can be done. There will always be gangs …

I asked why it was that people involved with pre-K education on the leeward side of O‘ahu put up with conditions that, from the outside looking in, look intolerable, if not illegal. And I got my answer.

“Um … the rent?”

Translation: “The ship’s sinking, but if I tell the Captain that, I’ll get fired!

It’s a message with which We the People are very familiar. Have been for a long time. And, the other day, no less a public figure than Dr. Seuss told me just how long.

Yes. Dr. Seuss. That Dr. Seuss. The Cat In The Hat and all that.

Turns out that, long before Thing One and Thing Two, Seuss (which is supposed to be pronounced “zoice”, rhymes with “voice”, and yes, the good Doctor said so himself) worked both in advertising and as a political cartoonist. The Mandeville Library of the University of California, San Diego has posted the complete collection of Dr. Seuss’s political cartoons from 1941 to 1943 (in early 1943, he joined the U. S. Army and drew cartoons for them).

The cartoons of 1941 were particularly pointed when they dealt with Americans who considered the world situation and chose to do nothing.

Kinda like parents whose response to the education situation in today’s America is to make sure their 3-year-old is lined up to go to private school.

When, at the end of 1941, war did come, Americans responded by cutting back on personal standards of living and volunteering money to the Government. Though, it must be admitted, it didn’t happen without a certain amount of cajoling.

Wonder what would happen if any of our current candidates for President of these Untied States were to proclaim a new War on Poverty? Poverty that condemns most of the iPod-less of our children to the perdition of the minimum-wage economy. Or the gangs. Or both. From pre-K.

And if those candidates were to ask for 10% of each of Our incomes in savings bonds and stamps to fund that war?

Actually, no, I don’t wonder. Don’t bother looking for that candidate’s political corpse. There wouldn’t be any pieces big enough to find.

We the People would rather do nothing.

  – O Ceallaigh
Copyright © 2008 Felloffatruck Publications. All wrongs deplored.
All opinions are mine as a private citizen.


  1. BRAAAAAAAVO OC! I know that SOME of us DO understand what Quilly is dealing with — those of us that have been involved in education elsewhere – because it really is BAD everywhere. But you are a wonderful man to post it and bring it to the forefront. It’s so sad that the world keeps coming up with problems faster than solutions! I think we should shut down the problem factories….

  2. Melli — OC says every teacher needs to quit at the same time to get the public’s attention. Would you organize that, please?

    Brian — teachers everywhere thank you for your support.

    Polona — the back isn’t as pretty as the front.

  3. My new job is sure teaching me about the dark side, one of the hardest aspects, as I’m sure Quilly has already encountered is having to be nice to lowlife. It’s not easy, respect to Quilly.

  4. Bazza — no, it’s not easy. Then I come home and complain to OC and he yells at me because the system is broke yet I still work in it. But I don’t do it for the system, I do it for the kids.

    So, why are you where you are?

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