I am a teller of lies. Yes, I can’t help it. I do it for a living. Telling stories is simply what I do.
Now, for those of you who know the secret, that I am employed by a Texas public high school as a teacher of English, I must confess that Texas teachers are all expected to be liars. Not merely the tellers of small, innocuous white lies, but big, powerful, dark black hoo-haws that would curdle the innards of those you have to tell them to if they ever found out the truth. In Texas, all teachers must tell these particular lies by State mandate;
- Texas values education.
- We put the students first and make our decisions based on what is best for them.
- We only put smart people in charge of education in our state.
- We only put smart people in charge of our state.
- We don’t let politics affect the quality of our education.
If I just shot down your illusion balloons of sacredly held beliefs, I’m sorry, but you must not have paid attention when our State Emperor for Life tried to step down a notch in his career and run for President of the U.S. The man with all the tact and wisdom in Texas said that he wanted to do away with the Department of Education at the federal level. At least, I think he said that… or was that the one he forgot during the debates? I don’t remember. Oops. I guess it rubs off.
Teachers in Texas have had to deal with billions of dollars in cuts in our education budget. Yes, I actually meant BILLIONS. I know the difference between M and B. And, of course this exercise in thriftiness comes at the same time that the yearly state test by which all programs are evaluated, trimmed, and ultimately obliterated is being morphed into a harder test of higher level thinking skills, and multiplied by four core subjects so that high school seniors will have to pass not one, but TWELVE (or possibly sixteen, the state has not made up its mind yet about what number will do the best job of improving graduation rates) high stakes, pass-or-no-diploma tests. Sorry, I meant to say TESTS. We have to shout things in Texas education or no one listens… No, that’s wrong too. No one ever listens.
So teachers are professional liars. That’s the truth of it in the modern world. You have to go into the classroom every day and tell lies right and left. You have to say things like; “Welcome to English class, all thirty five of you. Ask me any question at any time because I have to make sure each one of you individually understands each and every one of the three thousand points of Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. I am happy to see all your smiling faces. Don’t carve your name in your desk with your Bowie knife or I will have to call the principal, knowing I dare not lay a hand on you or your property, and confident that the administration will back me up and do something about your behavior instead of lecturing me about classroom management skills (assuming I survive this) and sending me to the teacher re-teaching center to re-teach me how to handle dangerous, aggressive, un-motivated, belligerent, and bad-smelling students with learning disabilities (who are not more than eighty per cent of the student population.)
Now that I am old, and parts of me are drying up and falling off, I am seriously trying to take my talent for lying like a rug and turn it into a new career, a fiction author for young adults. I mean, I do have some knowledge of youths and adolescents, having taught them for a quarter of a century plus half a decade (sorry, thirty years for those of you who are used to actually being listened to when you talk). I am also very good at telling narrative lies from having to recount what happened when we had the fight in the classroom because Bozo looked at Bozina from behind and she went into a screaming fit because he’s a creepy guy and she could feel his eyes on her behind even when she was only looking at the girl ahead of her, Bozolette, who was turned around talking to her without permission about how ugly Bozinga is whenever he has to wear shorts for Phizz Ed Class. Of course the principal sends me to the teacher re-teaching center for more re-teaching even if he believes my little black hoo-haw. Therefore I hope that means that I really ought to be able to mash together a bunch of my brilliant, witty hoo-haws, put a nice pink ribbon on them, and sell them as a young adult novel.
So, there you have it. I am a liar. I freely admit it. And I am trying to make the transition from one liars’ club to the next before all my parts dry up and fall off. Dang! There went one leg already!