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A closer look at Lunarship

Dear Mr. Cope:

I am a mother. Four of my children already attend Ezra T. Benson Elementary, and the other three, not counting the one who won't be born until May, will be attending that school unless we move, which I hope we do, as the house we currently live in has only four bedrooms and if we all want to eat at once, I have to cover the foosball table with a sheet of plywood and use the tarp we keep over the wood pile for a tablecloth.

But that is beside the point. I am worried about Tom Luna. My husband and I voted for him because he is--and was the other times he ran--the Republican. Believe me, no one from our church is telling us to always vote for the Republicans. We decided totally on our own to always vote for the Republicans, and if you talk to my husband, he can tell you exactly why he decided the two of us had decided to do that.

To be honest, I do not pay much attention to how the other Republicans we vote for are doing, as I am confident in thinking that they are doing a good job at whatever their job is, or their fellow Republican office buddies would be telling them to do a better job, wouldn't they?

But I do try to keep up with what Tom Luna is up to, as he is the Something-Something of Public Schoolings, or something like that. I care very much that my children get a good education, or else how will they ever compete in a global marketplace when they grow up, especially if somebody keeps letting those other countries into the global marketplace? I have heard that Tom Luna has come up with a totally different kind of plan for running Idaho schools. The trouble is, I am not sure how it will affect my children and it makes me worried to think about, even though my husband says I should not be worried because Tom Luna is a Republican, so how bad could it be?

But I cannot help it. I call it "mother's intuition," and it is telling me that somehow or another, this plan of Tom Luna's could possibly be not so good of a plan. Mr. Cope, I need someone other than my husband to tell me there is no reason to feel worried about this. That is why I am writing you. And if you cannot make me feel less worried, could you at least tell me what I need to say to make my husband feel as worried as I am?

--Worried Mother

Dear Worried:

As I no longer have a child in the public school system, I usually ignore whatever Tom Luna is doing to it. I had convinced myself that Luna, like mediocre men in general, could never do so much damage that better people couldn't correct it later. But perhaps I have been negligent in this regard. It is no accident that as America falls farther and farther behind other countries academically, the deeper into reactionary darkness our leadership has plunged. Conservative politics thrive on ignorance.

What's more, I have had a mother, and she, too, was prone to worry. It's no fun for anybody, is it? So for the sake of your lovely seven and a half children, I will stand back at a panoramic distance, soak in Mr. Luna's vision of what our public education should turn into, and report what I see.

First impression: Holy crap, am I glad my kid is done with public schools!

Mom, I don't imagine that assessment does anything to ease your worry pangs, so let me approach it another way. In my considered opinion, what we have is a typical Canyon County ideologue who has made it his mission to spread his questionable obsessions into a field that he is unqualified to enter through the normal channels--e.g., as a trained and competent educator--and who has decided that there are too many teachers in Idaho even as the state's student population is growing at such a rate that some districts can't build schools fast enough to provide them all a roof over their heads. (In this matter, Mom, you could help out by spacing out your blessed events a bit. Giving birth shouldn't be like hoarding garden gnomes.)

Furthermore, the eminently unexceptional Mr. Luna has proposed that after corrupting the noble vocation of educator so thoroughly with such imported ideas as merit pay and systematic job insecurity, whatever teachers remain should be subject to performance evaluations from not only the proudly ignorant jackasses who couldn't keep up with the smarter kids even if they tried, but their parents as well--which, to me, is like inviting rodeo ropers to score ballerinas.

Furthermore, the conspicuously unremarkable Mr. Luna has determined that teenagers aren't spending enough time on the Internet and would insist that they cannot graduate unless they have completed a predetermined minimum of online credits. The state would provide every ninth grader laptops, which the students could keep upon graduation, assuming it still worked after four years of Red Bull and Twizzlers, and the credits would be provided, presumably, by the same online course hawkers who have been so generous to Mr. Luna's political campaigns.

In summary, Mom, you have every reason to be worried. With ample support from a governor and Legislature every bit as undistinguished as Tom Luna, I predict Idaho's schools will soon be on their way to becoming as culturally and intellectually desolate as Mr. Luna's ideology. If I were you, I'd pack the kids in the minivan and get thee to a state less eager to let chronic underachievers determine what authentic academic achievement looks like. Dad could follow later with the foosball table.

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