Sunday, November 10, 2013

Terrorism of the abstract

Clammed under a November sunrise yesterday.

I am not an efficient clammer.

I rake what I need, sometimes even put a few back. I try to avoid damaging too many other critters as I scratch the flat, but I know that every pass of the rake kills and harms critters--occasionally one will end up embedded on a tine, clawing at the unfamiliar air and sunlight.

If a commercial clammer could dredge through here, it would be a whole lot more "efficient"--a commercial clam dredge scraping for ocean quahogs approaches 100% efficiency landing the clams in its path.

I figure there are a few thousand clams on my flat, enough for me for a lifetime, and for many lifetimes if we only take what the bay gives back.

Somewhere in New Jersey a few men in suits struck a deal--the Garden State Parkway could be widened despite the surrounding wetlands so long as a portion of my clam flats was "ameliorated."

"Wetland mitigation" resembles The Inquisition education reform--noble purpose, squiggly means, and disastrous consequences. Evergreen Environmental wiped out an acre or two of my clams with the blessing of the New Jersey state government.  It's OK, though--a biologist who found me clamming there said it will be better than it was "in five years." He said, with pride, that he had had a hand in the project.

If his raking skills were any reflection of his biology training, I'd say he was telling the truth, at least about having something to do with the damage.

I hear the same about the Common Core--yes, our children will be slaughtered on the PARCC exams, but it will be better in 5, or 10, or 20 years. It takes a lot of abstract thinking to toss away the present for an imagined tomorrow.

Photo by Lewis Hine, once a teacher.

I'm not "against" the CCSS any more than I am against improving the environment. I am against destroying things of value (and children still fall under that category) today for some promised gains tomorrow. The end rarely, if ever, justifies the means, especially an end as imaginary and elusive as the Holy Grail of education reform.

If the money paid out to the consultants, the biologists, and the suits were on checks dated years into the future,
 I bet we'd all be better off--except those who would harm us today.

The Parkway expansion cost us 3.5 acres in wetlands along the Parkway.
Evergreen Environmental "improved" 7 acres to compensate for that.
A lot of money changed hands, a lot of quahogs were killed.

Here's a look at the plan as it was proposed.


Brian E. Bennett (@bennettscience) said...

"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a cheeseburger today."

The word "compromise" doesn't mean anything when you deal with the abstract.

doyle said...

Dear Brian.

Home run--and I'm stealing that line.