When President Romney enacted his sweeping reform of the nation’s schools, many in the beleaguered Chicago system were nervous. “Romney-cation” aimed to streamline the collectivist-inspired “public” schools into a market-driven educational dynamo, adopting sound new business models proven in the President’s private sector career.
Entrenched teachers, of course, were all let go, after their pension funds were loaded-up with debt, and their unions stripped for assets. This house-cleaning set the stage for a new breed of educator, motivated not by the promise of free entitlements, but by the avoidance of dire poverty.
Vijay Ranjarajan—or “Chuck”—is one of those pioneering new teachers. Each day at 6:30 PM Bangalore time, he convenes his busy schedule of classes, juggling a long queue of technical questions on subjects as diverse as Basic English Composition, Cellular Mitosis, and how to get the modem working again, even though you’ve rebooted it and changed both cables.
Freed from the burden of unions or fair labor laws, Ranjarajan has risen to Level-1 English, Biology, and Home-Ec Customer Service Representative. Fully 20 percent of “Chuck’s” students remain on the line to answer the customer survey at the end of the call, making him one of best-loved teachers at James Madison Middle School and Technical Assistance Center.
In spite of the positive reception by students and parents freed from the tedium of actually working together on learning, the scheme still has its detractors. Answering charges that the new approach places corporate profits ahead of preparing students for a shifting economic landscape, Romney spokesperson Neil Newhouse noted that “We’re not going to let fact checkers dictate our school systems.”
At the end of a 39-hour shift on the Indian Subcontinent, “Chuck” is philosophical. “In spite of the inhuman hours and low pay, I actually love my work,” Ranjarajan told Mittopia. “I must admit, it’s shocking to hear how little most American students know of literature, world history, even basic science and biology. But what did they expect when critical thinking came off the curriculum in Texas? Oh well, I guess it’s good for us—at this rate, we’ll own Missouri before most of them figure out The Onion isn’t a real newspaper.”