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public a teacher that he conducted his classes in the Agora, the Athenian shopping mall, to emphasize the value of ideas and spirituality over the material world. In short, he was probably executed for teaching his students to be agoraphobes. Agoraphobia, fear of the market place, has been all but stamped out today, not by the discoveries of medical science, but by the institution of public education and its basic curriculum, the ABC of the Good Life. No? Ok, then, when’s the last time you heard of a public school named after Socrates? One that teaches students never to work fixed hours for wages, never to store up treasures, never to be caught dead in a shopping mall standing in line to pay for all those vital products like microwave ovens, designer denims, Mr. Coffee, pet food, shag carpet, aluminum siding, weed eaters and yogurt? A school that instead teaches students to read Socrates, Schopenhauer, Thoreau; to put as many miles as possible between themselves and a computer; to tramp around the world taking no thought of the morrow, considering, urn, the lilies of the field; to get married only when they’ve tried everything else; and to “obey the teachings of Jesus and Socrates,” as Ben Franklin put it. A final word about the latest “consumer good” that we just have to have in order to survive the home computer. They’re going to be as ubiquitous as telephones we are told; we need to be first in our neighborhood to own one. Therefore, as you might have guessed, the public schools are teaching all the little kiddies how to use them. First of all, is the world really a better place because there’s a telephone in every home? Well, Bell Telephone would certainly say that it is. The F.B.I. would vote yes. That is unfortunately not the question; the real question at hand is who will become the Bell System of the home computer world? They’re already as commonplace as Snow-Crop peas, but, unlike legumes, they require a bit of “education” to be used. The ABC of the Good Life. True, the computer represents vast potential for saving life, alleviating pain, and aiding the infirm and handicapped. But why does Neal Marlowe, who works at Ralph’s Lawn Mower Repair, need to buy one? But he will, because he is being taught to do so, even told he can use his rebate to buy “software” \(Neal always thought desires, Neal can use his rebate on any other item in the store. “I need that computer,” Neal is saying, “And I can sure use that $100 rebate!” Don’t do it, Neal.* *Some of you may be waiting for the answer to the question, “What is the real purpose of the government report?” Well, have you been hearing a lot of noise lately about “merit” pay? Probably you have. This is the eventual goal of the upper classes. Anyone who has ever been subjected to the system of “merit” pay knows that it is a code word for “flunky” pay. Such a system would greatly aid in the prevention of some young teachers trying to follow old Ben’s advice. If Not Merit Pay, How About Combat Pay? By Jon Weist Fort Worth RL. PASCHAL HIGH School rests on the edges of the comfortable neighbor hoods that surround Texas Christian University. It’s one of those buildings that became too small at least once, so its smooth white front contrasts sharply with the faded brick of the auditorium and the aging portable classrooms in the back. From its fairly inoffensive appearance, one couldn’t tell that for eight weeks this summer almost every issue raised in the suddenly white-hot debate on public education could be seen in its most primitive state. The armed guard who stood in the teacher’s parking lot every morning was just one indication of what awaited a group of student teachers who were pay Jon Weist is a reporter for the Denton Record Chronicle. ing the University of Texas at Arlington for the privilege of finishing their cerWication in an intensive summer school session. Most received their certification, though at least one indicated before it was over that she had no intention of teaching. And she was one of the best. If Texas legislators could have witnessed what another of the student teachers I’ll call her Susan went through for no pay and no grade to receive a guaranteed salary of less than $13,000 a year, even Gib Lewis might have become a touch less rigid in his no-taxes-for-teacher-payraises stance. Susan drove from Dallas every day, a trip that clocked in at about 130 miles round trip. Unlike the teachers who allowed their student teachers class time to grade papers, Susan had to carry the entire two hours in three different classes with sporadic and often contradictory input from the teacher Fort Worth was paying to be there. If there was ever an example of need for some sort of merit pay, it was here. The teacher receiving taxpayer dollars sometimes left early to go shopping. She once left town for a day without hiring a substitute, leaving in the hands of a college student more than a hundred slow learners, street-gang members, and a young man with a record of assaulting his teachers. During the entire eight weeks, it was Susan who made up the tests, graded papers, and maintained control as best she could in a class that the principal casually noted contained almost all of the school’s discipline problems. Yet Susan has mixed feelings about merit pay. The fact that she was eventually hired by the Plano school district one of the best in the state indicates she has talent. If merit can be evaluated, she would be a prime candidate for merit pay. But she’s got ideas about how students should be taught, ideas that might not jibe with the company line. If merit is to be judged by administrators, it’s natural that they aren’t going to recommend pay increases for teachers they’re always clashing with. Given the frequent clashes she had with education professors, it’s probable that Susan won’t accept things she disagrees with. Until a system for merit pay is established that can assess the impact one teacher has on students a job that may be impossible bright teachers who care about their students are going to disagree with their bosses. When pay time comes, they could suffer for it. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17