Everything I Know About the American Education System, I learned from The Simpsons

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Since we’ve started blogging in this class, I have had trouble of really finding ways to write about anything education wise.  Scouring for articles became boring to me, I really did not know how to connect with education based ideas, or really how to find “me” in this post.  Then I remembered all the satirical moments that The Simpsons have created, poking fun at the American Education System.  From the apathetic teachings of Ms. Hoover and Mrs. Krappabel, to so Ralp Wiggum saying, “Me fail English? That’s unpossible.”

So, I want to do a series, if you will, how the satirical moments from different episodes bring to light some of the best, and worse, of our educational system, and possible the reasons behind why there was a chance to make fun of it.

To begin the first one that I would like to talk about is the teacher’s strike in Chicago:

Click here for the video.

The things that stood out to me about this article was how the schools became a daycare of sorts for the children and the last sentence in the quote by Karen Lewis, President of the teacher’s union, in which she states, “We must do things differently in this city if we are to provide our students with the education they so rightfully deserve.”  But I ask, by not being in the classroom to teach, are these children getting the “education they so rightfully deserve?”  Kids can’t learn if there aren’t any teachers doing their job.

I understand that they deserve benefits and better pay.  I would want that myself, but it seems teaching is a profession in where a sense of “their post must not be abandoned” type of mentality.  The union and city could negotiate while teachers still teach.  There’s no need to “abandon” the children’s education.  How are they to make this precious time up during this year?

So what does The Simpsons have to do with this?  Well, the episode that comes to mind is from Season 6, Episode 21, titled “The PTA Disbands.”   You can see the entire episode here. Just click on the video, no need to download anything.

In this episode the teachers go on strike due to Principal Skinners’ excessive budget cuts.  In response to a lack of teachers, the town relies on very under-qualified individuals to teach the children.  With an elderly Jasper reciting all the actions that would end in a “paddling” with my favorite quote being, “Paddling the school’s canoe, oh you better believe that’s a paddling.” Then after everyone has had enough, they lock Mrs. Krappabel (leader of the strike) and Principal Skinner to work out their differences.  They come to the conclusion that renting out the closest in every classroom to the local prison to house the overflow of criminals to facilitate the budget requirements to give the teacher’s their raise.

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There are some things that seem to stick out to me between the real life strike going on and the fake one.  I think the sense of abandonment of the teachers for their students can best be seen in the scene in where the young girl is stuck on the gymnastic rings and wants to get down, but the teacher has quickly left when the announcement of a strike has occurred.  The teachers in Chicago might not have left some kids on rings, but the sense that they are willing to leave and let the children to fend for themselves boggles my mind.

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Another thing that these two bring to mind is the negotiation process.  The Chicago Teacher’s Union and the city could not reach an agreement. In the episode this was played out when Mrs. Krappabel would state that they wanted “a small living increase and better supplies for your children” and the crowd being for that idea.  But then Principal Skinner stating how taxes would need to be raised to accomplish that.  Then the crowd wasn’t for Mrs. Krappabel’s idea.  This makes me wonder if this is a not-so-far from the truth satire.  It seems that we want the best for America’s youth, but we aren’t willing to pay the premium for it. We (as a country) want our cake and to eat it too. We want our schools and teachers to be the best that they can be, but yet we won’t pay for quality resources in public school or for quality teaches in public school. If we want a better education, we might want to start accepting the fact that it might take more from our wallets to help with that.

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Now I leave you with these quotes to ponder, mostly because it has some truth in it, but mainly because it made me laugh the loudest.

“Homer: Lousy teachers. Trying to palm off our kids on us.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Lisa: But dad, by striking they’re trying to affect a change in management so that they can be happier and more productive.                                                                                                                                                                  Homer: Lisa, if you don’t like your job, you don’t strike.  You go in everyday and do it really half-ass. That’s the American way!”

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About jamesthoughtsblog

I like turtles!

One thought on “Everything I Know About the American Education System, I learned from The Simpsons

  1. Thinking of this as your submitted work for the writer’s workshop (unless you have something else in mind), I love the idea of a series, especially about The Simpsons! I definitely understand struggling to come up with something to blog about (I still do), and I’m glad you were able to find something that you enjoyed, related to education, and better conveyed your personal voice.

    I really like that you were able to pick something happening in the education world (Chicago teacher strike) and relate it to The Simpsons, and then were able to draw parallels between the satirical TV show and reality and point out how this reflects on us as a society (which is not very well). I especially liked the picture of the little girl hanging on the rings in the gym by herself because everyone has abandoned her because that is an awesome metaphor for how the teacher strike affected kids’ and their educations. I also enjoyed the other images and the conversation between Homer and Lisa at the end (because Homer is so insightful) and I think that that was a good way to defuse the situation while still being relevant. The quote was amusing, of course, but Homer makes a good point and we (the readers) have to acknowledge that even as we’re laughing.

    As far as critique goes, mostly I noticed spelling mistakes and sentence fragments ( “Ralp”; “With an elderly Jasper reciting all the actions that would end in a “paddling”…), which is easy to fix and I think probably stems from the fact you probably wrote this all in one go and then posted it (because blogs are spontaneous, yes? And that’s how I do it). I only point this out because sometimes it did affect meaning, but it’s not a big deal.

    Other than that, I think you did a really good job. You picked a topic that was both relevant and relatable and provided a fun series with such an eye-catching title it’s impossible to resist reading.

    For my critique, let’s just use my most recent blog: “The Power of Wrongness.”

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