Jewish World Review Sept. 9, 2004 / 23 Elul, 5764
54th state? Confusion
Attention, students! Are you a little fuzzy on the facts? Do you tend to get bogged down on the details? Isn't it too bad that Canada makes up such a large part of South America?
Not to worry! It is clear to me you already have what it takes to be a successful high school administrator!
In California, a chain of 30 private high schools was ordered to stop handing out diplomas for the flimsy reason that its instructional material relied on the facts much as Homer Simpson relies on self-restraint.
Immigrants were taught that there are 53 U.S. states and four branches of the U.S. government. (There are actually only three branches of the U.S. government, or possibly six.)
California Alternative High School (which also is under fire in Nebraska and Iowa) charged its mostly Latino students between $450 and $1,450 for a 10-week course based on a 54-page book apparently written by my pug dog, Buster.
Students learned that Congress has two houses - the Senate for Democrats and the House for Republicans. They learned that the U.S. flag, for reasons unknown, has not been updated to include the addition of Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico to the "original" 50 states.
Clearly, textbook writing could be a field worth exploring for me. Try this:
"The United States of America was founded in 1941 by George Washington Carver, who also invented the peanut butter sandwich, the eating of which is tantamount to putting a bullet through your head if you pay the slightest attention to one of today's federally mandated low-carb diets.
"After being executed for inventing the peanut butter sandwich, President Carver had a famous duel with Gerald Ford, now best remembered for his impersonations of Chevy Chase on 'Saturday Night Live.'
"In the meantime, the three or possibly six branches of Congress got together and decided it would be fun to invade Cuba because, after all, what could possibly go wrong?
"The war with Cuba lasted 150 years and officially tore the nation apart in 1492, when Jane Fonda visited Havana and announced she would marry Ted Turner if he promised not to take her to any more baseball games.
"The Fonda presidency was rocked by scandal when weapons of mass destruction, or possibly a pair of live squirrels, were found in Fidel Castro's beard. The United States responded by invading Iraq, which should have seen it coming.
"Today, the United States enjoys a period of unrivaled peace and prosperity, if you don't count the various wars we're involved in, high unemployment and the fact that you need to sell a kidney in order to be able to afford to fill up your SUV. And no one, for whatever reason, seems even slightly inclined to make Canada our 57th state."
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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.
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