Saturday, August 6, 2011

Chapter 17: Trump Schools

Chapter Seventeen: Reform School, Part 3

[Although all of the stories about Bronx schools in this “memoir” are true, this chapter is a purely imaginative, i.e., a fictional rendering of what a teacher in the summer of 2011 might think of an imaginary meeting between Reform Mayor Bloomberg and Donald Trump, ca. 2009.
“Not more fiction in a memoir?” you complain.
“Well, you know ….”
“But these are supposed to be nonfiction stories.”
“They are; they are – unless, you know ….”
I can only remind you that memoir is mostly a vanity genre for people who have a need to talk, nothing to say and don’t care if anyone is listening, sort of like Facebook.  The nonfiction portions of this story are about the best kids being sacrificed for the worst in Bronx schools in the name of pretending that the educational system is being renovated in such a way as to eliminate the great social, cultural and economic problems that face students like those in the Bronx.  This particular chapter, however, as I said, is pure fantasy, though based on what has transpired over the last 10 years in NYC education and popular culture.  I’ve never met Bloomberg or Trump.]:

Mayor Bloomberg enters Donald Trump’s office.

Hi, Mike.  Sit down.  Glad you could stop by.
Happy to, Don.
Call me, “the Donald”.
Okay, Donald.
No, Mike, not “Donald”.  “The Donald”.
Okay, The Donald.
I’ve copyrighted it.
Good.  What did you want to talk about?
Well, I heard that you were looking for a new schools chancellor.
How did you hear that?  Only my 2 most trusted people know about that.
Well, The Donald knows all.  Or should I say, The Donald sees all.  Or maybe, The Donald’s money attracts all.
I see.
So I was giving that some thought.
Your little dilemma.
Well, it’s not exactly ….
I know you’ve been talking to Cathie.
How do you ….”
[Trump gives Bloomberg the “you are scum” level response.]
Oh, right, The Donald.
You know you’ll get a lot of hell if you pick her, Mike.
I don’t think so.  She’s very capable.
Of what?  Ha ha.
Of running the school system.
Okay, but let’s get serious.  You want to be known as the reform school mayor, so to speak, right?
Yeah ….
I went to reform school myself.  Doesn’t that qualify me for the job?
What are you talking about?
I’m talking about running the schools.  Can you think of anyone better for the job?
You mean you want to do it?
Why do you think I called you up here?
Well, I thought you might have some ideas, The Donald.  I always want to hear what you have to say.
Here’s what The Donald has to say.  We can turn this job into a t.v. show, call it maybe, the Chancellor’s Apprentice, something like that – has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?  We’ve been trying to think of ways to spin off the show.  You know, double the show, double the exposure.
How’s that going to work?
Well, I figured that we’d send our people around to the schools and pick out the best-looking high school girls – 18 and over, of course.  I mean to set a good example.  We’ll put these girls on the show and they will compete for a job.
What job?
America's Next Top Mrs. The Donald.  It’s almost time for me to get a new, young one.  That Sean Penn ….
But wait a minute, The Donald.  How is that going to help reform the schools?
Well, first of all, it will keep kids in school.  We’ll only choose contestants who have at least 75% attendance or something like that unless, of course, they’re exceptional in some way.
I see.
Then you can say that they have to pass their classes if you want.  Don’t kids have to pass their classes to appear on t.v. these days?
So that will improve the grades, right?  Can you think of a better motivation to get kids to do good in school then the chance to be on t.v.?
So that right there will solve your dilemma.  But that’s just the beginning for me.
What do you mean?
Then the writers were telling me that they could add a new dimension to this show.  Call it something like “Good Teach, Bad Teach” – and maybe we could get Cameron Diaz to guest. She might want to plug that movie.
What movie?
“Bad Teacher”.  Did you see her in that?
Whew!!  Anyway, these high school girls will tell us which teachers are good and which are bad.  We’ll bring in the bad ones and I’ll fire them – right on the show.  You’ve been trying to get teachers fired, right?
We’ll have to bring in a few of the good ones to and have them win some sort of little prize, just to keep things on the up-and-up.  But mostly we’ll get the bad ones in and I’ll get them out for you.  All I’ll have to do is think of that 8th grade math teacher that I ….
Yeah, okay ….
So that’ll do it. There’s the other part of your little dilemma solved.  They sign a consent form to come on the show that will allow us to bypass union rules.  Do you have any idea how crazy people are just to get on t.v.?  They’ll sign away their mother’s grave to get on t.v. and into the presence of The Donald.  Then I’ll fire them and you can hire whoever you want.
But these students, they might have some grudges ….
Yeah, I was thinking that myself.  That’ll be great- could be a whole new show in itself.  We can get some good confrontations on camera between these kids and their teachers.  It’ll be like a dream come true for the kids, like telling your boss to shove it.  Know what I mean?  You know what happens to the ratings when they see a pretty, young girl get mad – not to mention what happens to me.  I’ve already got producers and sponsors lined up to do it.  We could even have a panel.
For what?
To judge the top girls – want to be on it?  It’ll be like American Idol meets The Apprentice meets America’s Next Model but for school kids.  Hefner’s probably too old ….
Sounds interesting ….
If we can get it on cable ….
Well, like I said, The Donald, I’m always interested in hearing your ideas.  I’ll talk it over with my staff ….
They don’t even have to sing.  They just have to show up in those, you know, little school uniforms.  We could spin it off into another runway show, call it something like America’s Top School Girls or something.
I’ll run it by my people ….
And don’t forget the money, Mike.  You can cut a deal for a percentage.  Do you know how much money these shows make?  We get the school kids for free.  Almost no production costs.  We don’t have to pay for anything and the advertisers just dump the money on our head.  It’s a gold mine and, you know, if you have certain ambitions ….
Like what?
All I’m saying is that it’s a way to keep yourself in the public eye, whatever might happen down the line.  You know, as Chancellor, I’d be the host every night but as school mayor, you could make appearances whenever you want.  Just make sure to get it in the contract.
Mmmm ….
All you have to do is appoint me chancellor.  I’ve already got DOE people on staff, or should I say,” former” DOE people – “former” UFT people, too.  What do you say, Mike?
Like I said ….
We know Klein wants out and I’ve already talked to Cathie.  Don’t worry.
I told her.
Told her what?
That you’ve made your decision.  She understood.

Meanwhile, back in class ….
“Is that really going to happen, Mr. H?”
“Are they going to put us on t.v.?”
“No, I just made that up.  I told you.”
“But they could do it, couldn’t they?  Have a t.v. show in school?”
“I guess they could.  Would you go on it?”
“Well, you know, maybe ….”
“What if you won?”
“Oh yeah.  On second thought ….”

NOTE: This blog contains an excerpt of the first draft of this book.


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