Last week, The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the Obama Administration’s latest initiative. Not to be outdone by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the administration has announced a sequel of its own featuring children competing. The POTUS et. al. has ponied up an addition $100 million in federal funds to public high schools.
[T]he competition is shaping up to be a mix between the federal Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation programs, and will be funded and run through the Department of Labor. Between 25 and 40 grants will be awarded next year for high schools that team up with colleges and employers. The grants will range in size from $2 million to $7 million. Just as with the i3 competition, winners will have to secure private matching funds of at least 25 percent to get their grant.
Awards are expected to be made in early 2014 so schools can implement their winning plans during the 2014-15 school year. And importantly, the Labor Department will make the rules and administer the program—not the Education Department.
Applicants must include, at a minimum, a local education agency, a local workforce investment system entity, an employer, and an institution of higher education.
So, part deux of public schools competing for public funds. Awesome idea. But boring, right? Seriously, what fun is a competition if the American people can’t see it? We love a a contest. But more importantly, we love watching a contest. So, how about we take this salve and spice it up a bit right? Here’s my thinking:
Let’s get President Obama, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, and … Shakira in some fancy swivel chairs amongst a live studio audience. Ryan Seacrest or Carson Daly or somebody else can host a show called something like The School Choice. A group of representatives from each school–the student council, the glee club, Mr. Holland’s music class (if the school still has music)–can get on stage and present a spoken word piece detailing their plans for the funds, should they win them. Should a judge turn around, that school qualifies for funds. Each judge gets to choice five schools, the voting American public (call or text your vote) gets to choose five schools that didn’t get a judge to turn around. Schools that impressed the judges get $7 million grants, while schools that had to rely on the public’s vote get the $2 millions grants. The best part? It’ll all be on primetime television.
But wait! There’s more!
Not only do I offer the government this genius television show idea, I’d like to offer high schools who plan on entering this competition a few ideas that I think would surely impress the judges and their pocketbooks. Might I suggest that schools pledge to spend the funds on the following:
A casino — Odds are if you’re asking the government for money
they should be giving you anyway, it might be partly because one of the essential companies that employed adults in your community either no longer exists or packed up and went somewhere they could better exploit their labor. And what’s the best idea governments come up with when they are in such situations? Blackjack, baby! Have your students get on stage and spit a dirge about where the good-paying factory jobs have gone.
A prison — How about a ballad on the school-to-prison pipeline? Impress the judges by offering to supply the final part of equation. Why? Because that’s where they want you to go, anyway. The black ones, at least.
A sports arena — By now many of us have heard that the Atlanta Braves have decided to abandon the city of Atlantis for nearby Cobb County, where they plan to build a stadium that costs more than $650 million. Of course, like most stadium deals that go down these days, the Braves expect Cobb County tax payers to contribute $300 million. And yes, this is the same Cobb County that had an $84 million deficit in school funding. But lack of funds for education has never stopped a local government from giving public scrilla to privately run sports teams, right Rahm? Preparing a Shakespearean Sonnet about how the school would use the money to build a new stadium would surely get our sports-loving president to turn around, right? #go[insertteammascot]!
Some my find my show and subsequent funding ideas a bit absurd. But hey, it’s no more absurd than living in a country where schools have to compete for a few extra dollars, right? I swear, between this and last week, my ideas will be slaying coming sweeps week next year.
You’re welcome, America. Enjoy your turkey.