Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Reasons For Marty: Chávez as Colonel Kurtz

I promise I'll stop writing about Marty Chávez. Promise! My dog just had its knee surgery staples removed, and I've been spending all my time on Marty. Bad dog owner, bad.

And I'm taking a break from Marty to write about dog surgery staples, accordions ....anything but Martin Chávez just as soon as I explain yesterday's little wordblob in which I suggested Mr. Chávez become Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent. Maggie over at the dynamic trio of blogdom known as m-pyre rightly responded to the Chávez idea with a basic "huh?" and asked for an explanation. As I pack for my Marty vacation, here are a few reasons why I think this is a good idea, seriously.

"We had to destroy the village to save it"
--Alleged quote by a U.S. military officer during the Vietnam War
I've read with some interest about the process of finding a new APS superintendent. I respect and admire the work that has gone into cultivating public comment from every stakeholder group involved (including students, and that's great). But as we now go from public input to School Board decision-making, I am increasingly convinced that things are far too screwed up to expect:
  1. A powerful superintendent to come in and make significant inroads;
  2. The School Board to know a powerful superintendent from a bureaucratic hole in the ground, what with all their bickering, self-interest and general lack of vision;
  3. Any chance of real improvement barring the full-blown figurative destruction of APS village.
And that's where Marty comes in.

Yeah, I admit part of the appeal is that the Mayor has repeatedly talked about his desire to be involved with APS decision-making, boastfully implying and right out stating he could do a better job. And to those boasts I say "prove it". But there's more to it than that. Hiring Chávez instantly becomes the equivalent of bombing the village.

All the festering, open sores around the District (the latest being an audit showing the District can't even balance a checkbook) would immediately become battle lines between a defensive School Board and District employees and the supremely overconfident ex-Mayor (and yeah, he'd have to quit the Mayor gig and that has an appeal for many reasons including the fact that it would add to the already existing 5.2 million open political offices in New Mexico).

Armed with political cachet no former educator can claim, Chávez would "get things done", regardless of whether the solution was wrong or right, which would further inflame the Board and employees. Quotes from Superintendent Marty would quickly go up in Teacher's Lounges and Workrooms around the District, quotes like "I am not going away!" Many disaffected folks would leave, while others would entrench, digging bureaucratic trenches deep and well-protected.

The ex-Mayor would continue to boast, even as the situation implodes well-beyond its current quagmire and enter an "Apocalypse Now" level of the surreal. I can just hear the Doors music playing over press conferences by Fall-2009 as Superintendent Chávez explains why the test scores didn't improve and that everywhere he is surrounded by "errands boys, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill".

By 2010 everybody would be saying, in unison...."the horror......the horror....". The implosion would be complete and those not professionally dead or gone would pick up the pieces, form little charter schools amid the wreckage perhaps, or maybe finally split that South Valley into its own district.

I can see the little kids walking over hot, steaming metaphorical debris on their way to school, smiles on their figuratively smudged faces. They smile because while the District may have been destroyed, at least its destruction was sudden and complete, instead of the far more agonizing dysfunctional bureaucratic coma in which it currently reclines.

P.S.: But I could be wrong. I would love, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the School Board and District to prove me wrong. I would dance a happy jig of wrongness joy.


Natalie said...

Damn...this is funny!
I laughed 'til I cried.
The image of ol' Marty coming up out of muddy waters (I know that was Martin Sheen's character but the image just sticks ) or walking around in a silk robe, lounging, waving people around.
Cracks. Me. Up.

You may be on to something...

Kelsey Atherton said...

You know what's a great place for an anti-youth overly ambitious politico? School!

Must say, enjoyed the laugh. And hey, if we're going to do something poorly, we might as well fail spectacularly.

Anonymous said...

This is one of your best, for sure~
It just might work too. Just the thought of Marty trying to come and talk at assemblies with kids throwing paper planes and gum on his shoes is enough to crack me up.