Did you ever think that we would be witness in our lifetimes to the collapse of government in our own backyard and stand in awe as our county executive, our legislators, our judiciary and our bureaucracies don the masks of the perpetually perplexed and utter words so removed from reality?

President Bush at his televised press conference quizzically peered out at his American audience and told us that things were just fine in Iraq that the economy is percolating along except for an aberration in gasoline prices and his educational package NCLB (no child left behind) is performing as expected. That there is nothing wrong in torturing people as long as it takes place in a foreign territory and they give assurances that they are doing nothing illegal and lastly that his plan for Social Security will make you forget all the other troubles besetting his administration.

Closer to home our attention has been centered on a new superintendent for the Buffalo Public Schools, James Williams, who comes across with all the arrogance of a preening peacock sans tail feathers. Mr. Williams was chosen after a nationwide search by Robert Wilmers, CEO of M & T Bank, from his estate in France where he pressed the grape and consumed the liquid resulting from the fermentation process. Chris Jacobs spooned his erudite musings to other board members with the very same gold spoon that he was born with and Florence Johnson and Denise Hanlon exhibited their independence by inviting Betty Jean Grant for a ride in their floundering dingy. Lest we forget Jack Coyle we should remind people that he has volunteered to stomp some grapes in France, altruism has always been Jack’s finest suit.

Training the work force of tomorrow with the high school students of today is like trying to teach kids about today’s computers on a 50 year old mainframe…Our high schools were designed 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age. Until we design them to meet the needs of the 21st century, we will keep limiting – even ruining – the lives of millions of Americans every year. Bill Gates as reported in NY Times

Bill Clinton attempted to convince us back in the early 90’s that American education was in trouble and that we would not be able to compete in the new global economy if we continued to limit the educational opportunities for America’s children. The solutions we focused on were to collapse public education by privatizing it under the guise of charter schools and vouchers. Is it any wonder that America has taken to outsourcing engineering, design and all the other technical fields to India, China and other Pacific Rim countries?

For the first time in our history, we are going to face competition from low-wage, high human-capital communities, embedded within India, China and Asia…It will not be enough for us to leave no child left behind. We also have to make sure that many more young Americans can get as far ahead as their potential will take them. How we meet this challenge is what will define our nation’s political economy for the next several decades. Quote by Lawrence Summers as reported by Thomas Friedman. – NY Times – 4/29/05

We have an opportunity in Buffalo to redirect our energies and our attention to a project that will enhance the viability of this city and region by dedicating ourselves to our greatest wealth which is our children. They of course are the future of our city and our country and they are the wisest investment we can make for sustainability and growth. Yes, we have problems in our educational system and they will not be solved by collapsing the system and privatizing education under the guise of charter schools.

What our school board and others must do is open themselves and study educational philosophy so they can create and invent strategies that will make schools and educational experiences applicable to the real world that kids and parents inhabit. You can train animals to perform many tasks and even the human animal can be trained to take tests and perform adequately if that is what they are trained to do; but our present and future world demands a creative, innovative approach to learning and a love of knowledge if America is not to slip further behind in the race for the future. Surely we can find an educator and a superintendent that can offer more than test scores and a hard nosed attitude to solving human problems. by Bill Logal

I am trying to remember that song from the sixties and the lyrics went something like this “It’s a strange, strange world we live in Master Jack and I don’t think I’d like to be traveling back.” The rest of the words escape me but I’m thinking that our present time and world are also mighty strange and getting a lot stranger.