When a person gets kicked down so low he has to jump up to touch bottom, perhaps freedom truly is “just another word for nothing left to lose.” That’s the premise of Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Django Unchained, and also for what’s happening to the mood of battered teachers in Las Vegas.
In Django Unchained, Jamie Foxx plays the title character, a mysteriously freed slave in the antebellum South who, given a gun and permission, really enjoys his new job — shooting bad white people and one very bad black person. It’s a chickens-coming-home-to-roost story.
In the Clark County School District recently, teachers who were contractually promised incremental pay increases this year had those raises taken away, like a sick joke, by the district’s legal action against them. To add insult to already financially injured educators, the man in charge of keeping teachers in their subservient places for the mean-spirited reform movement — Superintendent Dwight Jones — reportedly said he was “relieved” with the decision to take away their raises. Reformists such as Jones often refer to teachers as “human capital.”
In Django Unchained, Jones’ role would be the one played by Samuel Jackson, a fictional plantation’s head house slave. He receives special perks from his master for helping to keep the “field slaves,” or human capital, in their horrid state of interminable suffering. It’s a Benedict Arnold subplot. But Foxx violently gets the traitorous Jackson in the end. And ain’t that Hollywood?
For teachers here, though, any real-life ending looks like it’s simply going to be more misery. They have a union that has sold them down the river for the past 13 years. They labor under the lash of sadistic reformers who force some to cheat, so students’ passing and graduation rates look better than they actually are. And then there’s the groveling Legislature acting upon directives from our state’s true master — the casino industry — to keep teachers financially crushed.
Ah, the Legislature. In Tarantino’s movie, there’s a scene in which Klan-like rednecks in hoods, chasing down ex-slave Django, get into a ridiculous, self-defeating argument with each other because they can’t see out of the cockeyed eyeholes in their hoods. In Nevada, that’d be our buffoonish Legislature when dealing with public education. In its past seven sessions, this loony-bin of legislators has ludicrously stripped teachers of a decent living wage. Until teachers are now down so low they’ve gotta jump up to touch bottom.
Given that, some teachers have been amused by the one legislator — if not unchained, then unhinged — who has been treating his fellow politicians the same way they have been treating teachers for two decades: with total craziness. The Legislature shit its collective pants when recently given a small dose of its own, apparently contagious, madness. To loosen bowels even more, the reportedly half-cocked, mentally challenged assemblyman, Steven Brooks, has also been found carrying a registered gun in his car. Whoa.
For teachers, therein might be a lesson. Perhaps it’s time to unshackle the chains and drop their sell-out union; screw their school district; laugh at boot-licking lawmakers; and boycott the greedy gambling industry.
Maybe battered teachers should join the National Rifle Association. Get some guns. Move to greener pastures. And keep on rockin’ in the free world. Because there’s no future left for them in Vegas.
It’s a chickens-leaving-the-roost story. With a twist of crazy.
CHIP MOSHER is a simple classroom teacher.