In my freshman year of high school, a major dispute erupted between advocates of outcome based education and those who preferred a more traditional model.
Basically, new age, social engineering, touchy feely nonsense vs. old school, reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic.
A tailored curriculum steeped in OBE principles, was promoted and implimented by the principal and administrators, with the support of the school board.
This particular model was pretty radical, especially at the time, and inspired quite a bit of backlash from the majority of parents and political conservatives within the district.
Keep in mind, I grew up in a lily white conservative suburb. A solidly “red” district. I’m not talking about Berkeley or Boulder.
The next school board election garnered plenty of interest and resulted in a traditional education majority. This occurred because 3 of the sitting members (education establishment stooges) were tossed out.
If you are familiar with education politics, you know how unusual this is. School board elections are usually a classic example of the smaller, but concentrated interest, beating a larger, but defused interest.
Members of the teachers union vote in large numbers to elect members of their choosing. Members of the general public stay home and watch American Idol. Some, like me, stay home and blog about Game.
Anyway, this serves as back ground for my pathetic behavior.
One of my teachers that year was one of a tiny minority of school employees to outwardly oppose the “progressive” outcome based model that had been installed. By tiny, I mean infinitesimal. It might have been her and one of the lunch ladies.
As a budding little reactionary, I liked her. She was old school. Pushing 60, she gave off a vibe, in both appearance and demeanor, belonging to another era. Beaver Cleaver would have been completely comfortable with her.
I also supported her cause and admired her character in the face of adversity. Not only for selfish reason, which I had( one example was required community service if I recall correctly), but out of principle as well. Although my philosophy was simplistic and shallow at the time, I instinctively recoiled at what I later understood to be social engineering.
Her dissent was not appreciated, and even though she had been teaching for 30 plus years, administrators harassed her with in class oversight and teacher evaluations in an effort to intimidate her. Tenure was the only thing protecting her.
Other than being a bit dull and boring, her abilities were perfectly acceptable. Nothing that would warrant scrutiny or dismissal.
After a few months of this unjust and unethical treatment, I approached her and voiced support. I wanted her to know I shared her beliefs, and more importantly, knew she was being treated poorly. She seemed to appreciate it. It felt good to lend aid and comfort.
After the new school board was elected, the firestorm grew even more. School board meetings were packed with members of both factions voicing their opinions.
A minority of parents, mostly teachers pets all grown up, joined forces with educrats in fighting the opposition.
The kids of these apple polishers were particularly active within the school. In their minds they were perfect little progressives “fighting” the establishment and their backward ideas. The irony of the opposite being true didn’t seem to register.
Unfortunately for me and my “principles”, one of these do gooders happened to be a tan blonde cheerleader with a perfect body and an angelic face. The fact she was an older, higher status sophomore didn’t help either.
One day in class she asked me if I would assist her. She told me she needed students to come to a school board meeting that night and lend support to the OBE cause. Ugh. I was conflicted.
At 1st I put up a bit of tepid resistance. She countered with an all out assault of shameless, ham handed flirting that weakened my resolve considerably. The cheerleader outfit she wore to school that day made her presentation all the more effective.
My beliefs and pride were being overpowered by my out of control hormones. I was crumbling. She finished me off by appealing to the White Knight within. A sob story of the difficulties and pressure she was facing was all it took to get me to agree to sell out.
I was like a lamb to the slaughter. This was my first meaningful experience with blatant female manipulation. Well the first I had noticed anyway. I was rendered powerless. This pretty young thing had more control over me than my parents, coaches, and teachers at the time did.
Of course I rationalized it. How bad could it be? I go to a meeting and sit next to her for a half an hour or so. Big deal I thought. I was even doing a good deed by helping her. Poor thing. She needed me.
No one would know about it, and I had no doubt that I would benefit mightily from my magnanimous act. My conflicted feelings would surely pale in comparison to the kissing and groping afterward.
I arrived at the meeting and met her outside the gymnasium where it was being held. She immediately stuck a button on my shirt full of enemy propaganda. Didn’t see that coming. No big deal though.
I then followed her to the section where our seats were. It was full of people with t-shirts, buttons, placards, and on the floor, a giant banner. I was beginning to have second thoughts.
I figured school board meetings were quiet, dignified affairs. I had been picturing a library atmosphere with old people in tweed jackets.
She told me where to sit and handed me a placard to hold up. She then informed me that I would be holding one end of the banner at certain times thru out the meeting. After this brief interchange, she left me to engage some of the other male students (dupes) who she had been roped into this event.
When the meeting started, the inspiration for my infatuation was sitting 15 away with as many people in between us. I was seated next to a fat liberal chick who would come to annoy me for the next 4 years with all of her do gooder activism.
It gets worse. My seat was on the aisle and towards the front. I begin to see a few students, mostly with their conservative parents, file in and sit down on the side of righteousness. Some I knew pretty well.
I tried to make myself look as small as possible. I pulled my baseball cap down a little farther. I was hoping they didn’t notice.
Then the worst possible thing happened. The only teacher brave enough to openly oppose the curriculum being debated walked in, and sat two rows down, directly in front of me.
I knew she had to have seen me. I felt shame and embarrassment unlike any I had felt before. I tryed to conceal the button I was wearing as best I could with crossed arms. It suddenly felt like it was 100 degrees and I started sweating nervously. For two hours I tried to avoid looking in her direction. I mostly looked down at my shoes.
Well, until I was prodded to hold the banner. With the help of the fat chick, a bunch of hausfrau mothers, and a few of the other dupes, I dutifully obeyed my lust interest’s command when she gave the signal.
The icing on the cake came when my teacher turned around and made eye contact with me. She even caught me when I wasn’t concealing the propaganda attached to my chest. Game. Set. Match. It was over. She had definitely seen me.
When it was over, I bolted out of the gym as fast as I could. The brutal reality of my status as a useful idiot had hit me well before the end of the meeting. The fact that my lust interest sat with a high status senior/big man on campus the whole time was just one of many clues I had. No groping, fondling, or kissing would occur.
I retroactively vote myself “Beta of the Month”. I had a lot of rivals that night for the award though.
My teacher never mentioned my betrayal and I never brought it up either. At the time, it seemed like a big deal, but I doubt, in hindsight, she really cared that much. Who cares what a 15-year-old kid does right? I’m sure she understood the power young girls have on boys in the peak of puberty.
All these years later I still feel embarrassed though when I think about. She didn’t have much support from her colleagues. I still feel that, in a small way, I betrayed her. As I recall, the next year she was gone. Never knew what happened to her.
The good news…
A couple years later, with enhanced reputation and status, I was able to turn the tables on the hot cheerleader. It felt good.
The bad news…
This wouldn’t be the last time I would mount my steed to help a girl and sacrifice my principles in the process. Luckily though, not nearly as egregious or embarrassing though. More on that another time.