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 Chippendale 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,
“I can get a good look at a T-bone by sticking my head up a bull’s ass, but I’d rather take a 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 class size mandate debacle that has palgued our school systems and their ability to budget allocations for the coming year. Rather than trust teachers and professional educators concerning how to solve this problem, legislators like Sen. John Alexander chose to push an agenda that hurts public education in North Carolina that includes vouchers, unregulated charters, and an Innovative School district that could be run by a profit-minded, impersonal company like Zalinski’s.
One of the most frustrating moments of this class size debate came recently when Sen. Alexander ignorantly stated in an email (from Billy Ball in NC Policy Watch today),
“We are still trying to gather information from all 100 counties of the state, to ensure that any fix is amiable to all,” Sen. John Alexander wrote in an email last week.
Alexander—who co-chairs a key Senate budget committee—was responding to pleas for the state legislature to provide additional funds or flexibility to local school districts in advance of a pending mandate that they slash class sizes in grades K-3.
The Wake County senator wrote that the relief comes after “much discussion, research and hard work over the last several months,” although he offered no specifics on any plan.
“Please know that I share in your concerns, as do all the members of the General Assembly, and we have heard you,” said Alexander. “We are working diligently towards a solution that will benefit all.”
Where’s that research? Where is the proof that you have the data? Where is the proof of gathering the input of all 100 counties?
It took several months to get to a place where Sen. Alexander could make a claim that there might be some relief for the class size mandate coming in the next session without giving any specifics. That’s pretty bad.
It’s an inexcusable excuse.
And that bit about “a solution that will benefit all”? Impossible.
Why? Because what Sen. Alexander feels is beneficial for his party and its partisan education reforms is completely antithetical to the health of the state’s public school system.
People like Barefoot, Berger, and Lee (and Alexander) don’t take a butcher’s, I mean a teacher’s, word for it. They refuse to repeal bad mandates or even try to fully fund public schools.
Now consider the aforementioned Tommy Boy quote again but with a twist.
“You can stick your head up the bad legislation’s ass, but I’ll take the teachers’ word for it.”
For that matter, they can take the students’, the parents’, and the financial analysts’ words for it.
But if they would rather have their heads up an ass, then….