Basic $5 Cure Offered For Fiscal Woes

December 23, 1990|By Phil Greenfield

As we all know, the Anne Arundel County schools are feeling a financial pinch to the tune of 8 million bucks. Some ingrate I would be if I didn't at least offer a creative solution to our money problems.

My suggestion? Creative taxation. If we go about it the right way, millions can be raised and solvency regained.

If some elements of my tax package seem strange to you, rest assured that there are historical precedents for innovative revenue gouging. In 1698, Czar Peter the Great initiated a tax on -- you guessed it -- beards.

Yup. Convinced that facial hair was keeping Russia rooted too firmly in its medieval past, the cosmopolitan monarch instituted a graduated tax that required Russian noblemen to shell out up to 100 rubles per year to remain shaggy.

And you think my ideas are crazy? Well, here it comes -- a revenue enhancement plan even Bob Schaeffer could love.

* The "Just the Facts" Tax:

Students who insist on writing essays that are pure baloney should have to pay a price. Two key "B.S." terms are the words "basically" and "basic."

I suggest a $5 tariff each and every time they are used.

"Basically, we can see that the Renaissance was one of those basic times that basically changed the basic foundation of man's basic beliefs."

That'll be $25, please.

* The "Jargon to the Max" Tax:

"Affective Domain"

"Learning Enhancement Module"

"Criterion-Based Testing"

Anyone in the education field who uses such god-awful terminology should pay through the nose. Teachers don't usually talk like this, but we could make a fortune off the bureaucracy.

By the way, the "Affective Domain" refers to the students' attitudes and behavior. A "Learning Enhancement Module" is another name for "read it and answer the questions."

I have no idea what "Criterion-Based Tests" are, but I have a feeling I'm gonna find out real soon.

* The "Big Mac Attacks" Tax:

Students caught sneaking out to lunch should be forced to ante up 10 bucks for readmission to their afternoon classes.

Turnstile costs should prove self-liquidating in fairly short order.

* The "College Pats on the Backs" Tax:

No more freebies! It's $15 for each college letter of recommendation a student requests. This is the busy season, too. I could have kicked in 75 bucks last week all by myself.

"For all these reasons, I commend John/Jane Doe to you as an applicant worthy of your most serious consideration."

That'll be 15 smackers. Make that 20 if you get in.

* The "Party Hacks" Tax:

Any politician who says something meaningless about education must pay into the fund. Boy, could we have cleaned up this fall.

* The "We Have a Lot of Confidence In Our Backs" Tax:

Athletic coaches are renowned for speaking in cliches, and Anne Arundel County coaches have yet to start a new trend. A triteness charge of $10 will be assessed against the coaches who utter any of these bromides: "We're gonna play 'em one at a time."

"We control our own destiny."

"We're like Rodney Dangerfield. We don't get the respect we feel we deserve."

"We're gonna have to stress the fundamentals."

"We feel like we can play with anybody, talent-wise."

"I liked our hustle out there."

Football season alone could have yielded thousands. Tax-wise.

* The "Snacks" tax:

As any extra-curricular club sponsor will tell you, the quickest way to raise money is to sell candy. Peanut butter cups are big business. French clubs go to Paris, bands go on concert tours, teachers go bananas cleaning up the wrappers.

No longer. Forget it, clubs! The Board is sweetening up the act! You want candy? Then buy it at a Board of Ed concession stand or stick with those nerdy carrot sticks your mommy packed.

We'll make a fortune. Who says you can't learn from your students!

* The "Get Off Our Backs" Tax:

Any State Board of Education "Report Card" or other evaluative document must be accompanied by a check payable to the Anne Arundel County schools.

County students who've passed the Functional Math Test could be assigned to help these bureaucratic "experts" balance their checkbooks once this new tax is operational.

Well, there's the package. What could it hurt?

In any event, I hope we'll soon be able to afford a growing complement of teachers to teach our kids, an expanded team of administrators to oversee our schools and a burgeoning supply of consultants, specialists and theoreticians to . . . err . . . um . . . continue doing the work that I know means so much to all of us.

Phil Greenfield is, for now, a teacher at Annapolis High School. In his spare time he, is a theater and classical music critic for the Anne Arundel County Sun.

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