This week Superintendent John Pedicone of the Tucson Unified School District announced his resignation at a local psychiatric outpatient clinic.
Flanked by a smiling psychiatrist and a nurse, Pedicone revealed he suffers from a form of PTSD known as post-TUSD stress disorder.
"I was a happy and well-respected retired superintendent of an exceptional school district. When I was offered the superintendent's job, I thought what did I have to lose?"
Pedicone clutched a giant teddy bear close to his chest.
"I lost my mind, my friends and two years of sleep. The hardest part was confronting my delusions. I thought I could make a huge difference and that the school board had the wits to dress itself without help."
Why is TUSD the Charlie Sheen of school districts? Could it be because the district is so big that Stephen Hawking has a theory about it?
Is it the people? First, it's clear to any casual observer the district is cursed with juvenile, illiterate, and disrespectful slow-learners who just want to hang out at the 7-Eleven and ridicule Justin Bieber. And that's the school board.
Pedicone told his psychiatrist he thought the school board consisted of the extraterrestrials from the "Star Wars" cantina scene on Tatooine. Imagine his relief when the psychiatrist told him he wasn't hallucinating and that no one understands half of them either.
What about the teachers? The teachers of TUSD are all overpaid, underworked educators with excellent student-to-teacher ratios. (I just wrote that to see if any teachers read this column. If you see someone in a coffee shop drop their Saturday morning paper, clutch their chest and fall to the ground gasping for air, that's a teacher who just read that last sentence.)
The search for Pedicone's replacement will cost about $10,000, which is the average take-home pay of a teacher after she buys classroom supplies, a Kevlar vest and the kind of high-grade mood elevators required to teach a classroom of 40 sardines with backpacks and emotional disorders without wanting to stick your head in the Home Ec teacher's oven.
Parents need to get involved. That's why I recommend grading parents. Picture this:
How was school today?
Here's your report card, Dad. You got all "D's." You have a ton of unexplained absences - including from my school play. Where were you? You can still earn extra credit by going to the the PTO meeting.
Hey, look. I got an "A+" for complaining!
Go to your room. You're a disgrace.
As for the kids, we have a romanticized view of students. Students only want one thing. According to Slacker Review, less than half want their educational experience to be a cross between "The Dead Poets Society" and "Dangerous Minds." While Jaime Escalante does his "Stand and Deliver" shtick, 68 percent simply want the bell to ring so they can go off campus, eat french fries and mock the older-than-Yoda substitute who couldn't get the video player to work.
The administrators are all former teachers happy they don't have to work anymore.
We all know who keeps the school running: the secretary at the front desk. Fire everybody else. She knows enough to blackmail the entire staff and faculty into turning Prickly Pear High into The Academy for Precious Darlings.
The only thing our legislators hate more than thinking "real hard" is godless public education. For decades they have beaten, kicked, stripped, starved and ridiculed public education. They micromanage public education to death while charter schools are so unregulated it's a joke and Arizona's future is the punchline.
Year after year, peddling vouchers and choice, they rob Peter Public Education to pay Paul Private Schools, an approach that has not resulted in positive shining achievements outstripping public education, save for those nose-pinching schools that can turn away the odiferous riffraff like your Pugsley. It all does little more than siphon money away from public education so that whites can flee diversity, the pious can escape the secular world and aristocratic Muffys can flee the masses while our elected ideologues, lacking grit and courage and stamina, escape tackling the complex problems that public education, stuck with serving the leftovers, poses.
And those who do have the grit, courage and stamina to attempt to tackle the complex problems get fried.
As a shaken Pedicone was wheeled away, he mumbled.
"I am not a piñata - I am a human being. Don't get me wrong. It's great district with great people with a great future."
His doctor shook his head.
"You're still hallucinating."
I wrote this ad for the school board:
Excellent opportunity for advancement. Our last five superintendents "advanced" out of here faster than Brazilians out of a burning nightclub. Join the exclusive club of former superintendents that includes Mr. Kotter, Dwight Eisenhower, Elizabeth Two-Names, Mel Brooks, Roger Pfeuffer, General Custer and Stan Paz. Great pay! Great benefits package! Former chancellors of Pima College need not apply.
Email Star cartoonist and columnist David Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org