March 26, 1993

Education: A Morality Play

Cast: John: a high-level executive in the State Department of Education.

Mary: his executive assistant.

Scene 1

Place: Department of Education, Sacramento, California

Time: 10 A.M., a day in 1992

Scene: The front office. Mary is seated at a desk and John is standing.

John: Do you realize, Mary, that it's been over a month since we issued a memo to the local school superintendents?

Mary: I know; I have been thinking about it all month. I must have administrator's block. I can't seem to come up with an idea.

John: If we don't come up with something, people will think that we aren't doing our job. With the budget crunch, we could be unemployed.

Mary: Don't worry, we'll come up with something.


Scene 2

Time and place: Same time and place on the following day.

Scene: Mary is seated at her desk. John enters smiling.

John: I've got it!

Mary: Wonderful, what is it?

John: What is the biggest problem that the state has to deal with?

Mary: Money.

John: Worse than that.

Mary: Crime, gangs, drugs?

John: Guess again.

Mary: AIDS?

John: You're right on!

Mary: What does AIDS have to do with education? ...Don't tell me, I know: sex education, prevention, condoms, abstinence, family values.

John: Wrong! How is AIDS spread?

Mary: Sex.

John: How else?

Mary: Blood transfusions, contaminated needles.

John: Yes, blood; and there's a hellovalot of blood in schools.

Mary: Where?

John: All students have blood. All teachers have blood; all custodians have blood. For another thing, pubescent females and female teachers menstruate. For another, every time that a kid has an accident, he'll bleed. If that blood gets into a cut, it can spread AIDS.

Mary: Maybe we should check with the public health people.

John: What for? All that they would do is equivocate. That's what medical scientists always do, equivocate! They'll say that the incidence of AIDS among students is very low and they're not engaged in high risk behavior on the school grounds. They'd just pooh-pooh our whole plan. We can save lives by preventing the transfer of blood and the AIDS virus. If we also consider the risk of hepatitis B, we could make it a double-barreled attack on blood-borne diseases.

Mary: How many lives could we save?

John: What difference does that make? If we save one life, we have done some good.

Mary: How much will it cost?

John: What difference does that make? We'll take the money from something else. Teachers are paid too much anyway.

Mary: How much work is involved.

John: It's minimal: just a handful of forms to fill out. Of course, we will have to have a number of meetings and conferences on the subject.

Mary: Will the school boards go along with it?

John: Of course. They go along with everything that we propose; we have the money and they want it.

Mary: Suppose that someone says that teachers are at no greater risk than barbers, grocery store clerks, gregarious ditch diggers, bartenders and a lot of other occupations.

John: That's a spurious argument. Besides, they'll never think of it.

Mary: Well, it beats unemployment. What should I do?

John: Write it up and I'll sign it. We should be able to get it out to the school districts by the end of next week.

The End

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