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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Sprout, Sprout, Let It All Out, These Are the Things I Can Do Without...

Illustration Friday: Sprout

There are some awesomely cool ruins, just out of camera shot...

A year ago, I played a game where I tried to answer everyone's questions (here & here.) I'd love to play that again, with a slight variation. I'd like everyone to give me a question, or a blogging topic you'd like to see me rant about.

I'll start it off:

Last week, with just a few days warning, 165 public school bus routes (not children- 165 ENTIRE ROUTES) were slashed in New York City. Imagine that. Children as young as five were given Metro Cards and their parents were told they had to take public transportation. Mayor Mike Bloomberg has admitted that the change was handled very badly and shouldn't have been done in the middle of winter- but tough doodies, we're stuck with it. The city needs to slash $5 million from the school budget, and this is where they've decided to do it. Other children were re-routed, making some wait as early as 5:45 am for a bus. Some are told to change buses in mid route, crossing six-lane avenues in the process.

Now, in reality, the government doesn't expect five-year-olds to take public transportation, nor do they expect them to spend the entire morning & afternoon on the bus. They're just telling the parents- without coming out and telling them- that transportation to and from school is suddenly their responsibility. What if they work? How the hell are they expected to get their kids too and from school? This change doesn't affect Joe, but what if it did? What if next year they decide to pull the same routine? I don't understand how the mayor & the governor let this happen, and how they have basically said that the victims of their penny pinching are simply screwed. What the hell do we pay the highest taxes in the country for? Obviously, our politicians simply do not care- not about the students or their families. I understand that Sen. Hillary Clinton is too busy campaigning for president to care about her constituents, but what's Sen. Chuck Schumer's excuse? Where are the lawyers, itching for a class-action suit?

If there is one thing that disgusts me about this country, it's how education seems to be the lowest of our priorities. A passage from Robert Anton Wilson & Robert Shea's Illuminatus Trilogy come to mind:

"What would you think of a man who not only kept an arsenal in his home, but was collecting at enormous financial sacrifice a second arsenal to protect the first one? What would you say if this man so frightened his neighbors that they in turn were collecting weapons to protect themselves from him? What if this man spent ten times as much money on his expensive weapons as he did on the education of his children? What if one of his children criticized his hobby and he called that child a traitor and a bum and disowned it? And he took another child who had obeyed him faithfully and armed that child and sent it out into the world to attack neighbors? What would you say about a man who introduces poisons into the water he drinks and the air he breathes? What if this man not only is feuding with the people on his block but involves himself in the quarrels of others in distant parts of the city and even in the suburbs? Such a man would clearly be a paranoid schizophrenic, Mr. Flanagan, with homicidal tendencies. This is the man who should be on trial, though under our modern, enlightened system of jurisprudence we would attempt to cure and rehabilitate him rather than merely punish.
"Speaking as a judge," he continued, "I dismiss this case on several grounds. The State is clinically insane as a corporate entity and is absolutely unfit to arrest, try and incarcerate those who disagree with its policies."

Chew on that little nugget for a while.
TTFN
-Tony

22 comments:

Michelle Lana said...

oooh....a very graphic piece..but, always cool tony!

Caroline said...

Hmm... 5.45 am start? And I was thinking how I'd had to catch the bus at 8am and that was early!!! (Didn't get home until 5 or 6 pm).

I enjoyed your question and answer session last year... I'll have a think on it...

robertc said...

wonderful illustration... very dark and moody. i dig it! and am in total agreement with your statements. my wife is a teacher is getting no love from the politicians. seriously, what is wrong with some of our so called leaders?

harmoniousjosh said...

First: Damn you for getting that song in my head. Come on. I'm talking to you. Come on.

Second: pardon the blasphemy, but how about separation of school and state? Why the surprise that a monopoly, enforced at gunpoint, delivers an unacceptable product?

Don't mind me. I'm just another Jewy dude in a pirate costume.

studio lolo said...

Justifialble rant and perfect illo to go along with it Tony. I can't imagine being a kid today, having to get up so early to include 2 hours of commuting back and forth to school. And how about the overabundance of homework the teeniest of them are getting and the fifty pound backpacks they have to schlep? The kids are missing play time which will really mess with their heads later. We grow up fast enough. It ain't right. (I know I veered off a bit, sorry!)

Aravis said...

I find the bus situation very worrying. Though not quite the same thing, this reminds me of a tragedy in this area a few years ago. An elementary school did not declare a snow day despite warnings of a massive storm. When the storm hit partway through the day, they decided to send the kids home right away, giving parents almost no warning. The school bus dropped two small children- one only five- off near a bridge. They had to walk their usual long distance up their road to get home. The little girl slipped and fell in the river. Her 8 yr. old brother tried to save her, but couldn't. He almost drowned as well.

This is what can happen when the schools or, in this case the government, decide that children can fend for themselves.

Perhaps parents can work out a type of car pool situation with the public transit, taking turns guiding the children to school? It just isn't a safe or viable situation otherwise...

isay (Marissa) said...

i like your artwork but somehow i can't help but think about those 5 year old children.... this is really bad news- the parents should not agree on this. someone has to do something about this.

Shano said...

Love the sprouts and the commentary. However, that is just awful about the buses . . . Didn't see that on the news on the Pacific Coast, natch. Just the terrible injustice of it all! Poor kids.

Laura said...

First of all, very cool illo! Second, i am apalled at that bus situation and can only imagine what those parents are going thru. What an awful position to be put in and totally unjustified IMHO.

I admire the way you put topics out there, voice your opinion and make people notice - keep givin' em hell Tony.

Hellcat said...

Awesomely cool skull. I like chewing nuggets but this one *VOMIT*

Anonymous said...

nice pic and ur lovely school system sounds about as messed up as ours here in charlotte. some poor kids have to ride the bus for 3 hours just to get to school and then back but u got us on the public trans sys part, that they need a bullet to the brain.
gotta lov ur local gov. there assholes, then there is assholes! then theres the gov.!!! michale dailey

steve said...

Good cryptic image to go along with your rant Tony. I agree, the slashing of transportation for school students is ridiculous! However, where I live, it's a different story. The parents (at least most of them)spoil their kids here--they can do no wrong. I guess that's what you get in the wealthiest district in the nation. They drive them to school every morning in their oversized Sequoias and Lexus SUVs (some of the kids would fare well with parachutes, jumping outta them vehicles). You should see the line of vehicles by 7:30am. If I don't get to school before then, I'm screwed!God, I remember when I was a kid, we were crammed eighty at a time on the bus and I rode that damn yellow thing up through tenth grade! Anyhow, it seems public school education is dictated any more by the SOL tests (Standards of Learning), which is essentially a big business that can be traced back to the No Child Left Behind act. The teachers are stressed, the kids are stressed and most of what they have "learned" they instantly forget. I keep asking myself (as many of us teachers do), when will we get back to actual learning? There have been baby step responses with proposals for more true, hands-on learning through experience, but the powers that be don't seem to want to have any part of it--it doesn't fit into the quick fix, instant gratification mentality of the business. Sad but true. We keep hoping things will turn around--baby steps.

Digital Scott's Illustrationblog said...

Terrific work, Tony!

french toast girl said...

I dig the graininess of it all.

I don't usually feel this way, but some days home schooling is sounding better and better. Why can't they cut that funding in some bigwig's budget? And let the kiddos go to school safely?

ps ~ Aravis, your comment scares the bejeezus out of me.

Josy said...

Oh CHEEEEEEZ. The situation you've described is terrifying. I'm not a city girl, myself, and traffic in general (as well as public transportation- what if I take the 3 instead of the 9? What if I fall into the subway rails?!) has always made me very, very uneasy. I'm 22! I can only imagine what it's like for small children. What an awful way to handle a bad situation.

(Like your illustration, by the way.)

carla said...

Tony, I really understand your anger at the bus situation. It's really absurd. I think that our country's priorities are so screwed up, and this is simply another example of that. I don't want to hijack your post... but as a teacher, I am disturbed at the huge gulf between what the government says about the importance of education and where it puts its money. It's always easier to blame teachers when kids fail... but schools are overcrowded, teachers have too many students to provide enough individual attention and instruction, and the expectations of what we need to squeeze into a day keep growing.
Anyway... I love your creepy illo, and I always enjoy your posts. They often get me riled up, but in a good way.

Tony LaRocca said...

I have nothing but respect & sympathy for teachers. I have disagreed a few times with the way my son's school handles things, but I understand fully that the teachers would do anything for him & the kids.

Knitting Painter Woman said...

I'm not sure I "understand" your illustration... but I'm with you on the educaton rant. Have you seen "Teach like your hair's on fire"? Just out by Rafe Esquith.
Question: If you could change some natural law, what would you change? What would be the intended (and un-intended) consequences?

Robert McLaughlin said...

Not sure I can comment on NYC politics--but I did a bit of quick math and 10 cruise missiles would just about cover the $5M needed.

It's not a zero sum argument though and I think our government should be able to figure out how to "provide for the common defense" and to educate our children also.

Bron Smith said...

Wow...you put a lot of thought and time in on this one, Tony. Beautiful illustration.

ChristyMarcusLitster said...

nice illo! I really love the textures you used here! Great job!

tomorrow I will be in NYC for the first time! Wish me luck on that VERY SMALL plane... AHH!!!

Rayne said...

Out here in the glorious mid-west, flat land of happiness and ass-freezing winds, there are very few school busses. We are fortunate that Katy has a school bus to and from middle school and we pay 250 dollars a year for the honor.
I am also concerned at the direction our government is going, it seems that they have forgotten the main theme of the consitution -Of the people, for the people - now it's just all about their own personal gains.
I would also like to point out that in my drugged up state I most definitely did not need to have Sprout, sprout,...etc. going through my head, only for my brain to pause for a moment, then play it correctly. And then it repeats all over again. This is so not good.