Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
The goal was to be the number one public school in the nation. The people who struggled to reach that goal for Roslyn High School in Long Island were hard-working. They brought the school to the top six—an almost guaranteed ticket to prestige colleges for the graduates. The superintendent was an attractive, charismatic leader and teacher, beloved by all…until the fact that he and his assistant superintendent had skimmed 11.2 million dollars from the budget for their personal use came to light—the largest public school embezzlement in American history. No one had officially noticed, but when the assistant superintendent was thrown under the bus for the missing funds and abruptly left her position (supposedly for being seriously ill), a student reporter investigated the real reason and distributed the details in the school newspaper. The HBO film BAD EDUCATION starring Hugh Jackman and Allison Janney is based on the true story.
In interviews about the film, Hugh Jackman commented that what we see isn’t always what we get. People who seem to be working for our best interests may be less altruistic than we think. As the January 6 investigation moves forward, we must accept that fact as people we once respected are exposed for their complicity in a plot to subvert the democratic American government. Those who are able to accept the great con as what it is seethe. They’re hungry for accountability that the manipulations and social media have made more difficult to obtain than at any other time in American history. Institutions are inherently vulnerable to corruption, and educational institutions are no less vulnerable than the levels of government of the United States. The founders designed our institutions based on an assumption of intelligence, good intentions, and honesty. When a broad swathe of people in powerful positions are unscrupulous, we’re in trouble. We erode principles we claimed to venerate through our various wars.
But perhaps the greatest take-away from BAD EDUCATION isn’t the fact of recurring human selfishness and greed. The film makes a point of highlighting that the corruption might have continued but for two things: honest journalism and an idealistic student. The impact journalists can have on general welfare has never been more blatant—especially now as we discover the bias and duplicity of certain news/entertainment outlets. People were shocked when cultists were once convinced and in some cases coerced into drinking deadly Kool Aid, but each day gullible people (often people who were themselves vaccinated as children) are persuaded that avoiding COVID vaccination is to declare personal freedom. Even the reality that those unvaccinated individuals comprise the majority of COVID deaths doesn’t deter them. Misinformation can be lethal to individuals and nations. We discover where accountability for the sham should lie with the help of competent, ethical investigative journalists.
Finally, then, the bright hope depicted at the end of BAD EDUCATION is the choice of an actual female student journalist Rebekahn Rombom to pursue facts. The relative heroism of young people is often trivialized and ignored as they advocate for gun control, climate action, and truth. Those who would push their personal agenda without regard for collateral damage don’t want to think that young people can identify their lies as the small boy in the story of the emperor’s new clothes could see the emperor was naked. The parents of those idealistic, brave young souls must be proud. We all depend on them to create a cleaner, kinder future.