How Chris Farley and Tommy Boy Accurately Explain Educational Policy in North Carolina

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,

“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 how so many people who really do not know the inside of a classroom or had the experience of being in a school have become the very people making policy and adversely affecting public schools.

What if someone was to compare the actual experience in public schools as a teacher or administrator or board member of those who were in the upper levels in the Department of Public Instruction 8 to 9 years ago to what it is now.

Just compare Mark Johnson’s actual experience in public education to Dr. June Atkinson’s. There is no comparison.

Then just take a look at NCGA. Not many teachers there. And not many teachers involved in those conversations because they are deliberately not invited.



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