Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Education Is What Survives"

This poem came out of the May 3, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by Anthony Barrette. It also fills the "classic villain" square of my 4-1-16 card for the Archetypal Characters Bingo fest. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.


"Education Is What Survives"


It was Jackie Frost and
her husband Fireheart who
spearheaded the movement
to establish a school for
superkids in Canada.

Their daughter Aurora was
still an infant, but they wanted
to lay the groundwork for
her education later.

They spoke to other parents
and other soups and those
who like themselves were both.

They spoke to day care workers
and teachers and principals.

They shared the statistics about
the rising rate of superpowers and
the falling age of manifestation.

"This is something that Canada
needs for the future," Jackie said.

"Ah, but whose future?"
purred a smooth, familiar voice.

"Everyone's," Jackie said through her teeth
as her nemesis Contretemps sidled out
of the crowd in his expensive suit.

"But that's not quite true," he replied.
"You're talking about diverting
quite a large amount of tax dollars
to a school for ... special needs.
That's hardly everyone, my dear."

"A school benefits all citizens by
teaching the children who will
shape our future," Jackie said.
"Education is what survives when
all your other hopes have died out."

Contretemps snorted.
"Education is what survives
when what has been learned
has been forgotten," he corrected.
"It's nothing but a fancy piece of paper.
Knowledge is what matters, and you
don't need a special school for that."

"We're not asking for much!"
Jackie said. "We just want
superkids to have the same kind
of opportunities that ordinary kids
enjoy: a school suited to their needs."

"Yes well, you're asking for 'not much'
to the tune of eighty million dollars of
hardworking Canadians' tax money,"
said Contretemps. "For half of that, we
could build a commercial development
more than twice as large -- with a hotel,
a conference center, a condominium row,
a 2-4 Store, and a central parking garage --
which would actually benefit everyone."

By then he was attracting attention,
which he always did, and Aurora
needed changing, so Jackie had
to abandon the floor in search
of a family washroom.

"How can a businessman be
a politician?" Fireheart said
as he walked alongside them.

"Bribery," Jackie said darkly.

It was a lot easier to fight Contretemps
when he was wearing his krevel combat suit
and wreaking havoc as a supervillain than
when he was wearing Italian silk and
encouraging people's selfish nature.

"Maybe it won't be so bad," Fireheart said.
"Lots of people have kids, any one of whom
could manifest superpowers at any time."

By the time they got back, though,
Contretemps had not only sucked in
the major investors and the politicians,
but also a pool of parents enticed by
his description of how the development
would benefit hardworking families.

Yet another attempt to establish
a school for children with superpowers
had fallen through, just like all of
the others that had come before it.

"This is why we can't have
nice things," Jackie grumbled.

* * *

Notes:

"Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten."
-- B.F. Skinner

School construction costs are high, and the cost of education starts a lot of arguments. I based my estimates on this article about school costs, doubling it to account for the higher price of soup-specific goods ... and it would've run way over budget if it had been built.

Special education includes both gifted and disabled students, and those who are both. Special education is drastically, chronically, and illegally underfunded. A particular problem lies in cutting programs for gifted or average students to fund the extremely expensive accommodations needed by disabled students. Because students with disabilities have some legal protections for their needs, while others students do not, this also encourages schools to cut the less-protected programs. The same thing happens to superkids in Terramagne: without legal guarantees of meeting even their most basic needs, they often get shorted. You can't learn to write if you keep lighting your pencil on fire and the school doesn't have any superproof supplies.

A 2-4 Store is a Terramagne-Canadian chain that sells various products in large cases, similar to Sam's Club. While primarily intended for business and commercial supply, they're also open to individuals and thus a great way to save money for large families or special events. The name comes from Canadian slang, pronouncing 24 as "two-four."

Public education has a lot of benefits for everyone. Unfortunately, many people view it as an expense instead of as an investment. People want to keep their money. That means most people without kids don't want to spend any on education, and most parents want to spend it on their own kids instead of someone else's. In Local-America this leads to massive shortages in funding. Even in Terramagne, there are always arguments about how much education costs and who should pay for it.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, economics, education, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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