Treat Schools Like Strip Clubs



I just received an evite to my high school’s 10-year reunion. It’s in August. With a little luck, and just the right break in the GED testing schedule, everyone I enrolled with freshman year will graduate in time for the party. Maybe.

As a result, I’ve been giving high school much thought lately. At odd moments I think of Tater Tots, floor hockey and model U.N. assemblies, where the girl who wrote non-linear, non-rhyming poetry was always France. “To be French/To shudder/To laugh like neon daisy cupcakes on the moon/Vie France/Vie.”

My final verdict on public high school ten years later? Let’s just say I’ve developed the following definition: High school is the place where I was forced to sit still in small, windowless rooms filled with people I would never have chosen to associate with if not for Johnny Law. It was like prison, except with Glee Club.

Of course, high school wasn’t all bad. I made friends. I had a few good teachers. I learned that one should drink Mad Dog in moderation and never as a McNugget aperitif.

Most important, I learned not to trust any organization that has a “spirit coordinator” or “pep rallies.” Hitler and Stalin had spirit coordinators and pep rallies, and neither of them ever fielded a football team that took conference. Bottom line: gossamer paper and sparkle paint are the devil’s playthings.

So, how can we improve the high school experience? What can we do so that the smart and dumb are not penalized for lack of mediocrity? When will we learn that you can’t sparkle-paint over failing schools?

Thankfully, one state has an answer: strip clubs.

In Texas, the Gov. Rick Perry (R-Evil) wants to pay for schools by taxing every person who enters an adult entertainment facility $5.

Think about that. What does it say when the state relies on strip clubs in order for children to receive an education? What it says is that strip clubs are much more efficient than the state.

And that gives me an idea. Instead of taking money from strip clubs, which ultimately solves nothing, what if the governor ran his schools more like the financially sound strip club industry?

Before you flame me with e-mails regarding Operation Strip Club High School, hear me out. These are merely suggestions that would have given my high school experience a happier ending. They involve very little, if any, nudity.

Start with voluntary participation. Like patrons at a strip club, let high school students decide if they want to be there. If a student does not want to be in class, why force him _ and those around him _ to suffer? No teacher likes to shake her academic groove thing for a bored audience.

Next _ merit-based pay. Good strippers make major bank. Bad strippers serve drinks. The system works. In most schools, the best veteran teachers make as much as the worst veteran teachers. Shouldn’t some of those worst teachers be serving drinks?

Add a big, burly bouncer dude. Put four of his buddies inside with pool cues. Security problem? What security problem?

Rotate the talent. Bring in a headlining teacher now and then to reward the good students. Send a bored teacher to another district for a year. Everyone wins.

Open at 1 p.m. Close at 3 a.m. That’s the average teenager’s schedule. Why not?

I’m like you. I look forward to the day when our schools are so successful we need to have a bake sale to support the local strip club. But until that day comes, I say we put a two-drink minimum in the teacher’s lounge and see what happens.

(Originally published 4/28/04.)

Click here to read the previous column – “Guide to Finding Love.”

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles

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