by David Safier
[Satire Alert!] Rep. John Kavanagh has proposed shortening Arizona’s education requirements to completion of the sixth grade.
“Someone who’s going to work behind the counter at McDonalds doesn’t need any more than a sixth grade competency in reading and math,” he said. “It’s time to dramatically look at our entire philosophy of K-12 education.”
Kavanagh suggested students who earn his new Certificate of Sixth Grade Competency need one addition to their education before they leave school. “They all should be required to take a three week course in basic English elocution. We need to be able to understand them when they ask, ‘Do you want fries with that?’ or ‘Would you like to supersize that?’" He added, "If they can train people at India’s call centers to speak like Americans, certainly we can train our students to say a few key phrases so customers can understand them.”
When asked whether it makes sense to encourage people to have a high school education so they can be informed citizens and voters, Kavanagh replied, “Are you kidding? We shouldn’t let those idiots vote! I’m working on a ‘No Diploma, No Ballot’ bill that adds a high school diploma to voter ID requirements.”
OK, Kavanagh never said any of that, but I put a Satire Alert! up front because, as ridiculous as my faux-news story sounds, it’s well within the range of unreasonable discourse we’ve come to expect from conservatives.
What Kavanagh actually said was Arizona is sending too many students to our state universities. These are his words — and I’m not making this up.
“If somebody’s going to end up in a sales position or someone’s going to be a real estate agent, why are we investing all this money in a research university degree?” he said. “What’s the purpose of it?”
Kavanagh sees this as a cost saving measure. Rather than increase funding for our universities, we should just cut back on the number of students.
“We spread limited money over a large area, and we have a lot of college graduates who are working in retail and food service jobs. Is that really a good way to spend money?”
Another state budget problem solved.
Of course, Kavanagh isn’t without a softer, caring side. He’s also concerned about the plight of all those low wage workers with college degrees who are shouldering the burden of college loans they can’t afford to pay off. Apparently Kavanagh doesn’t think the rising tuition costs which are a result of lowered state support are an issue that needs to be addressed. Just get all those people who won’t earn much money out of the university — he's probably referring to those useless English and philosophy and history majors — and graduates will be able to pay off their college loans just fine.
The history of education in the 20th century was all about greater inclusion to create a more educated citizenry. If conservatives have their way, the 21st century will be the first time in this country's history when we move toward making education more exclusive and shift its mission to worker training.