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A Reader Writes by Scott Fullerton: Pass them chips and salsa

April 01, 2002

Ah, how the silver-tongued devil applies his magic! The words fairly ooze onto his florid, spackled palette, from which he wields his righteous brush in my direction, drenching all in a sugary sludge of condescension. The artist stands back to smugly survey his work: hazy, gauzy, almost pointillist in its half-bright obfuscation.

Mr. Hernandez, someone came into my public school classroom and got very political. This person was dishonest, operating under a shroud of earnest neutrality while proselytizing for her cause. She abused my trust. It was wrong. You wasted six columns of ink to counter, essentially, the information in this paragraph. It just doesn't wash.

As I look at the mass of words before me, I can easily rebut each and every point you make, as anemic as they are. It is obvious you have little or no professional teaching experience on the high school level. If you did, your scope of understanding would be acceptable. For example, if you did not know what I meant in describing one of my students as a "bright, very Mexican Latina," you may want to catch the next plane to Berkeley and … oh, dear. You've already been there.

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Well. I notice from this evening's paper a correction concerning your bio, where your degree was awarded in psychology, not Chicano studies, in which you probably minored. This gives me only slight pause, as the latter was so easy to jump on, given the slant of your hit-piece on me.

Actually, I need not present an argument against you because your column does it for me: the sophomoric reasoning, the pseudo-intellectual puffery, the stilted psycho-babbling, all encased in the turgid writing of an overreaching grad student.

Go ahead, read it. One can almost see you in your book-lined study, pipe in hand, calmly settling humankind's problems with your somber pronunciamientos.

My little ol' bachelor's from Humboldt State cannot compare, so I'll merely kneel in deference to your stamped and state-approved intellectual prowess. And, no, I did not major in bong construction at Arcata.

Y'know, I've always had this theory about psych majors: while many put their degrees to good use and work within the bounds of their discipline, the field attracts far too many for the wrong reasons. That's you. Your absurdly lame analysis of my remarks confirms my suspicion. Remember, you can't spell ‘analysis' without a-n-a-l.

You also list a master's in education. I know I'm about to seriously, uh, anger multitudes of people, including my (now former) friends and colleagues, but I can buy one of those at State. Just put in the time and money and, bingo.

But it is the latter portion of your blurb that really raises my hackles (check your well-worn thesaurus; "hackles," it's in there). You profess to be "an independent consultant specializing in multicultural staff, board and organizational development, team building, parental school involvement and teacher education." Hm. Now I'm absolutely frightened.

You're an ‘independent consultant'? That usually means you're out of a job, spending your time hustling up government contracts because no local businesses need you. Your occupation is a frivolity, a scam, preying on white corporate guilt or some such bogeyman. What is it you actually do?

Multicultural staff, board and organizational development? I work with persons of all persuasions, genders and ethnicities. There has never been any serious, or even minor, rancor among us in my 15 years in my district. We work together and agree to disagree in matters political, but cultural or racial backbiting? Please. What's to develop? Blowing more taxpayers' money on "experts" like you to tell us how to do our jobs? Or to coexist? Come on, now.

Team building? Sure, getting a bunch of cantankerous teachers to work together might be daunting but, when it gets down to it, collegiality and respect normally win out over petty squabbling. Too, I spent 10 years on the greatest team ever assembled, the United States Marine Corps. Not much you can teach me about teamwork.

Parent school involvement? We've been working on that one for a long time but, let's face it, while most parents remain interested (to varying degrees) in their children's' education, way too many are not. That is a static condition deeply rooted in a morass of serious social issues, too numerous to discuss here. In fact, we wrestled with this question mightily at our last board meeting and some positive suggestions were made.

Let's not talk about teacher education. I'm low on heart pills.

What is most disturbing about your screed is its total lack of focus, indeed, your clumsy attempt at playing the gravitas-bound rationalizer are, at best, laughable. And you chastise me for my choice of words? That I'm trying to be "hip"? Buster, I am hip, hip to charlatans like you. Since when does a B.A. in psychology certify one as a licensed psychologist? Where did you perform your internship? With the campus MeCHA chapter? Hardly a bastion of rigorous objectivity.

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