Wednesday, August 5, 2015

NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Round One

Genre - Satire
Location - High Stakes Room in a Casino
Object to be Mentioned - Swiss Army Knife

Education Reform

The crimson crushed velvet lined walls are a harsh contrast to my multicolored bulletin boards and 38 desks and chairs. When I started teaching, I never imagined entering into the poker room at the Paris, but here I am and playing with four of the most powerful people in my world.
            “Reeta, thank you so much for joining us here tonight. After the ceremony, the others and I decided that we’d really like your opinion on the situation. It needs to be fixed, but the ceremony wasn’t the right environment.”
            I still don’t really understand why they chose me, but National Teacher of the Year is a big deal so I roll with it. “Bobby, it’s just such an honor to be here. Thank you, again, for this privilege.”
            “How about we get some drinks before we play,” Mr. Alexander suggests and takes the seat to my left while pulling out the toothpick from his Swiss army knife. He waves to the waitress in the corner. “Sweetheart, come on over and get us some drinks. I’ll have a scotch. Ms. Frimoundo, what’ll you have?”
            “Rum and Diet, please.” I take the seat and welcome the first drink handed to me. “Will Ms. Murray be joining us as well, tonight?”
            “She was right behind me,” Arne says as he saunters through the private entrance. “Jager. Make it two.” He sits to my right and extends his hand to mine. “Reeta C. Frimoundo, congratulations. Once Patty arrives, we can get down to business while we play some innocent cards.”
            Impatient, I turn to Mr. Scott. “Bobby, you mentioned needing my help. I’m a bit unclear.”
            He nods and takes another drink. “Damn it, Patty. Why is she late again?”
Thankfully, before he can say much more, Ms. Murray comes through the doors eyeing the room for the final chair. “Bob, enough already. I may be late, but I’m here.”
At this point, I’m so confused. Rather than ask questions, I just drink.
“Ms. Frimoundo, now that all are present, let’s get down to business. No Child Left Behind has destroyed education. Every year we attempt to make change for improvement, and we thought Common Core would do the job, but it’s not working. Kids are getting progressively dumber and teachers are growing more and more apathetic. Something has to happen. As the teacher of the year, we are hoping you might have some insight on how to motivate teachers and kids to work harder and succeed. At the end of the day, the teachers are the answer. They have to be.”
Choking on my drink, I try my damndest not to spit my rum in his face. “I’m sorry, Mr. Duncan, I think I just heard you say that the teachers are responsible for the failure in education. Is that correct?”
Arne runs his hands through his grays and loosens his tie. “Reeta? Can I call you Reeta?” I nod and wait for him to continue. “Reeta, this is a safe room. We want your honest opinion, so to answer your question, yes, teachers are to blame. Not ones like you, but the rest.”
“Mr. Duncan, I am not quite drunk enough to tell you what I really think, but to save time I’m just going to get right to it.” I stand and straighten my skirt before proceeding. “The problem is not with the teachers, but rather the students. They don’t respect authority. This is simple to fix. Corporal punishment was outlawed years ago, but when it was legal, kids worked. Rather than handing paddles and rulers to the teachers and administrators again, let’s skip the lag time in discipline by putting all students and their desks on grids.”
            The four educational leaders nod their heads in unison, intrigued by my proposal. “By wiring all desks to a metal grid in the classroom and providing the teacher with a panel of corresponding buttons on her desk, we take immediate control of our classrooms. Any infraction including talking with neighbors, not turning in homework, being tardy to class, etc. can be handled by one push of the button. An electric shock will be sent to the student and he or she will receive immediate feedback.”
“This is fascinating,” Patty says softly. “Electric shock therapy.”
Mr. Alexander nods in agreement. “I like it.”
They like what I’m saying, so I keep going. “The cost of setting up the classrooms one time is drastically less than creating all new standardized tests, setting up new teaching standards, and purchasing all new textbooks to align with the changes.”
Arne says nothing. Instead he waves to the waitress for another drink and looks to the dealer who is setting up the game. “Go on. What about the opposing views?”
“I’ve thought about that as well. Some may say it’s inhumane. It would be more effective to tie tax credits to student achievement, placing more responsibility and motivation on the parents. Students with over 4.0 GPA will earn their parents $5,000 tax credit. It will decrease by $1,000 for each academic point it decreases, and for students who have less than a 2.0, their parents will receive nothing. Motivating parent involvement could improve the family unit as well. This would be beneficial for society as a whole.” I pause for a moment to take another drink. “This option may sound like a feasible option, but electric shock therapy is instantaneous. We won’t have to wait a year to see its effects on education.”
I wait for their response and motion for another drink.
“I like it. I say move forward.”
“Patty, shouldn’t we get the people’s opinion before making such a drastic change?” Bobby asks.
“Hell, no. The people don’t know what’s good for them. Let’s shock the bastards,” Arne declares. “Now that we have a solution for education, let’s get to the game. I have some money to make.”

            The dealer hears his command and deals the cards. Finally, we can have some fun.