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Bateman: Is our children learning?

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In the interest of politeness, we’ve usually steered clear of controversial topics. We’d… In the interest of politeness, we’ve usually steered clear of controversial topics. We’d much rather wax poetic about our favorite Super Smash Bros. Brawl character (Ganondorf, of course) than tackle a really important issue, like who will win big at the Academy Awards or why the last episode of Glee was so terrible. This week, though, we’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and discuss the biggest problem facing America today: education.

There are so many ways to go from here, but let’s commence by making the most obvious point. First, as your grandparents have undoubtedly told you, there is a general lack of knowledge in the United States. People are dumber than ever, with trillions unable to communicate in anything more sophisticated than text-speak phrases like “sup,” “nm u” and “a/s/l pls.” According to research we just made up, few living humans still possess the ability to balance their checkbooks, remember the names of important presidents or complete intermediate-level Sudoku puzzles.

Why have people gotten so stupid? The answer, we think, rests with the educators. We’re sure you’ve heard about that documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” which shows all the different ways that these lazybones are failing our students. American teachers, who earn salaries that would make even the great first baseman “Prince” Albert Pujols blush, have jobs that are so simple that a DVD player combined with a Scantron test grading machine could replace them with no drop-off in academic performance.

The best answer to this problem, then, is to fire all current teachers and start again from scratch. However, those public sector unions are standing in the way, trying to protect their members’ bloated pension plans and “Cadillac” health insurance packages. Can you name one good thing a union has done for anybody, ever, in the entire recorded history of mankind? Close your eyes and take a few minutes to think about this. While you’re doing that, we’re going to run out to Walmart, which refuses to allow its employees to organize, and avail ourselves of a great deal on Breathe Right nose strips ($3.77 for a package of 10!).

Anyway, let’s pretend that we live in a perfect world and such unions aren’t around to defend the vested interests of these glorified babysitters. Now we need to devise a perfect plan to ensure that our children grow up learning how to use the iPhones, Zunes, Sega Dreamcasts and other state-of-the-art computer products that our top companies are trying to sell to them. Although there are as many options for solving this problem as there are for customizing your Whopper, we’re going to settle for a time-tested one: generous corporate welfare combined with bureaucratic mismanagement and incompetence. In other words, we’re proposing that Obamacare — easily the greatest health care breakthrough since penicillin — be adopted in place of this public education boondoggle we’ve got going right now.

So here’s how it would work: Each American parent would be required, under penalty of a lengthy prison term, to use his or her $3,000 “education choice” tax credit to “purchase” a “learning solutions package” from a “licensed provider.” In exchange for this princely sum, which you obviously won’t get if you don’t know how to file your taxes, you’ll be able to pay a learning solutions provider like Target or Walmart (fingers crossed that they get in on this, folks, because if their learning solutions are anything like their prices on Breathe Right nose strips, we’d better watch out!) to “deliver knowledge services” to your “young consumer-in-training” (YCIT).

From there, the learning solutions provider will pull out all the stops to give your child the most cost-effective and entertaining education imaginable. Instead of letting some boring square with a bad haircut and almost no star power drone on about the multiplication tables, these learning solutions providers will harness the power of a DVD recording of he-man actor Vin Diesel and a laptop computer to prepare a roomful of YCITs for the few clerical or temping positions that still can’t be outsourced. Not only will you never have to worry about staying home with your bratty kids when the DVD recording and laptop computer go on strike, but you’ll also be able to choose value-added providers like McDonald’s that offer perks like a complimentary flapjacks breakfast.

“Waiting for ‘Superman,’” huh? Better change that title to “You’ve Just Found The Supermen — and They’re Right Here at the Moustache Column of America.” It’s just that simple, true believers.

Oliver Lee Bateman is the director of advanced research in the fields of smarts and general know-how at the Moustache Learning Center of America. You can preview some of our “As seen on TV!” lesson plans at

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Bateman: Is our children learning?