I miss Chris Farley.
His stint on Saturday Night Live is still memorable. There’s that opening number with Patrick Swayze where he and Swayze were competing for a spot in the Chioppendale dancers. Then there’s Matt Foley, a motivational speaker who lives “in a van down by the river.”
But my favorite Chris Farley performance was not on SNL; it was in the iconic comedic movie Tommy Boy. I know, not classical cinema, but it was funny. And the one-liners!
One particular quote stands out more than others. It’s when Tommy Boy is trying to sell enough brake pads to save his family’s business. A potential contract hinges on his ability to convince the client he himself has faith in the quality of the product. Tommy Boy says,
“You can stick your head up the bull’s ass, but I’ll take the butcher’s word for it.”
Tommy Boy wins the contract because the client takes his word for it. The client listens to someone who knows more about the situation, albeit in a comical way. Everything turns out well. Tommy Boy saves the family business from the corporate takeover from Dan Ackroyd’s character, Zalinski.
It is also an apropos way to describe the Achievement School District debacle that just passed in the General Assembly. Rather than trust teachers and professional educators concerning how to help low performing schools, legislators like Rep. Cecil Brockman chose to outsource the education of many of our students with taxpayer money to a profit-minded, impersonal charter run company like Zalinski’s.
Yet perhaps the most frustrating moment of the final debate came when Rep. Brockman impulsively quipped,
“If (teachers) don’t like it, good. This is about the kids. Who cares about the teachers? We should care about the kids. If they don’t like it, maybe it’s a good thing.”
That quote alone sums up the entire disconnect that many on West Jones Street seem to voluntarily suffer from when it comes to helping our students in public schools. Perhaps more revealing was when Brockman’s words were summarized in Billy Ball’s report “Tempers flare as controversial ASD bill clears House.” Ball states on NC Policy Watch,
For his part, Brockman says too many in North Carolina allow the struggles of low-income and minority students to go unnoticed, pointing out two-thirds of the state’s African-American students are not performing at grade level.
Maybe instead of looking at an achievement gap, Rep. Brockman and his co-sponsors may better serve those students by looking at the income gap, the health care gap, or the equity gap that plagues a lot of the students in the very schools being considered for the ASD. Maybe instead of trying to allow some out-of-state company to make money off our kids, he should fund fully the very measures we have already placed in our state to help turn around schools. Maybe look for ways to help the impoverished rather than taking their neighborhood schools “out” of their neighborhoods.
Furthermore, instead of trusting bureaucrats to make decisions about education, Rep. Brockman should maybe go to the experts about education like teachers.
But wait, “Who cares about the teachers?”
I do. Students do. Parents do. Some lawmakers do. Consider what Rep. Joe Sam Queen said in Ball’s report.
“What we do know is important is that, without a good teacher in every classroom, public schools do not succeed,” said Queen. “Without a good principal in every public school, they do not succeed. If we would commit to what we know can improve public schools, if we would quit looking for the flavor of the day, we could make a difference.”
But, sometimes people like Rep. Brockman don’t take a butcher’s, I mean a teacher’s, word for it. They need to learn the hard way. Now consider the aforementioned Tommy Boy quote again but with a twist.
“You can stick your head up the bad legislation’s ass (or asd), but I’ll take the teacher’s word for it.”
Except, when you, Rep. Brockman, made that flippant remark about teachers. That was when your head was up your own.