From the onslaught of campus shootings to warped private education hustles, the world of American schooling has never been more fraught. Today, Kendall Krantz, whose work has appeared in places like McSweeney's, takes on the whole mess of an education apparatus in just a few savage paragraphs. Enjoy. -the Ed
The director of the school was a Bauhaus masterpiece. Her hair and the architecture’s clean lines intersected in marvelous tangents. Their matte exterior was flat under the harsh sun that poured through skylights. Her stilettos clicked over wooden floors, a Pavlovian reward in every step. She gestured with squared, red nails to the classrooms, the lunchroom, the pods. Jefferson Academy’s luster was unnatural in the most pristine sense.
“Last month, we integrated intravenous knowledge into our tutoring system. The program started after an alarming epiphany that youth these days just aren’t hungry for knowledge. We can’t force feed it like foie gras, so we developed a new system altogether.” As she lectured, her matte lipstick cracked, creating hairline fractured that repaired itself with a placid expression. Her teeth were tombstones, burying parental concerns.
“The issue of non-focus was further rectified by the removal of food from the lunchrooms. We replaced the dishes with a grey nutritional supplement. They didn’t seem to notice. In fact, Jefferson currently has one of the highest cafeteria ratings by student satisfaction in the country.”
She laughed at her own success. When she threw her head back, her coiffed hair stayed perfectly still atop it. She clicked on towards the famed cafeteria. There lines of washed-out students shuffled towards grey plates in an orderly fashion. The food squirted onto the ceramic plates on a conveyor belt with the precision of a vaccine administration.
When we were close enough to notice the dark bags under their eyes, the director whipped us away towards her state-of-the-art library complex. The structure was built to hold up the cables and servers that distributed the school’s data.
“After we inundated the library in fiber optic cables,” she began, “we had to stop students from excavating books, a cornerstone of the support structure to carry the weight of wires. If they dug out a big enough reference text, they could compromise the integrity of the whole structure. We hope that the carbon in the books will contribute to a quick fossilization for the sake of free stone. We plan to mine the gilt-edged veins of rare ink-stone to tile the bathrooms.”
She gestured to slivers of obsolete pages that bursted in tufts like flowers from the mass of cables. Her silver bracelets clinked. After giving us a minute to process, she herded the flock of dazzled parents towards the classrooms. We shuffled along behind her towards the study halls. “A few of the students were curious to explore the books as relics, so we had to double their study video intake to tire them out.”
“We do still teach them alphabets. The administration and security decided that morse code is the most effective, because in the event of an active shooter, we can flash messages to the students instructing them to hide, to fight, to self destruct. The usual drills.”
She opened a classroom door. The light from the hallway poured into the classroom, illuminating students slathered in charcoal mud. A puff of warm air sighed into our faces as we, hands fiddling with wallets, peered.