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Radicals (like Jefferson) Have No Place in School Lessons

20 Jan

by Roger White

 

Editor’s note: The following is an explanatory letter to Texas public school students from the State Board of Education regarding recent changes the board wants to see made to textbooks that will be on the state-approved list of instructional materials used by school districts all across our fair state.

 

Dear Students:

 

As you may or may not know, there has been a bit of controversy regarding what should and should not be included in the educational primers you young’uns read in school. As of late, we have even noticed that some radical critics (mainly outside liberal elite agitators from the North and tree-hugging limpy wrists from California) have poked fun at the values we seek to impart in your lesson books.

 

For example, espresso-sippin’ instigators such as the National Center for Science Education claim that the global-warming lie is real and that the science textbooks we propose are not presenting fair evidence. We don’t care that 97 percent of climatologists (whatever they are) say that humans are responsible warming schmarmingfor global warming, we see no such facts to put in your books. Besides, you know who says that global warming is real, don’t you? Scientists. Commie, God-hating scientists—the same ones who say the Earth is billions of years old and that we descended from flea-ridden monkeys. All true Texans understand that the Earth is no older than 5,000 years because that’s when God made it. Evolution theories and global-warming conspiracy rumors come from the same dangerous secular humanists who planted those “dinosaur bones” all over the place just to confuse everyone.

 

And just because this so-called expert egghead group called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there is global warming, don’t you believe it. Our own panel, the Heartland Institute, has proven otherwise. You don’t need a Ph.D. to know that global warming isn’t real—just look at all the snowstorms and ice up north, like in Oklahoma.

 

Here are some other changes—corrections, we like to call them—you may notice in your lesson books:

 

* Students will learn the historical importance of such stalwart political and spirituajeffersonl forces for liberty and justice such as Barry Goldwater, Jerry Falwell, Newt Gingrich, and Phyllis Schlafly. Less emphasis will be placed on minor, more radical figures, such as left-leaning Thomas Jefferson.

 

* Knowing that this preoccupation with the separation of church and state is the handiwork of radicals and socialist activists, the State Board of Education has blocked a proposal that students learn why the Founding Fathers opposed the establishment of a state religion in the Bill of Rights. We feel the Founding Fathers may have had a bit to drink when they were working on that part of the Bill.

 

* The Board has required more emphasis in high school government class on the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms. The Board also feels that this Amendment should be moved up a notch to become the First Amendment and that the term “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” be amended to read “A well-armed Texan, being necessary to the security of a free State…”

 

* Now that history has vindicated Joe McCarthy and his love of the American ol joeway, the Board insists that students learn of his patriotic efforts to cleanse the country of any communist infiltration and other dangerous thoughts. Also, any reference from here on to the term “McCarthyism” should be revised to “red-blooded American McCarthyism.”

 

* Understanding that slavery was really a long time ago and that the country should just move forward and get over it, the Board has decided to remove the word “slavery” from any mention of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and instead refer to it in textbooks as the “Atlantic triangular trade.”

 

These recommended corrections should guide textbook purchases and classroom instruction over the next decade, and not just in Texas. The State Board proudly understands that textbook publishers all across America usually bow to our wishes because, as we all know, Texas purchases almost 50 million textbooks every year, more than any other state. Yee haw!

 

Now, learn good, li’l pardners.

 

Sincerely,

The Texas State Board of Education

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

 

This Installment Should Wet Your Appetite. Literally.

7 Oct

by Roger White

“It’s only words…”

True, Messrs. Gibb. But then words are all we have, in a sense.

I can understand when my daughter bursts in the front door, famished from her school day, and exclaims, “I could literally eat a horse.” I get it when an irate Facebook poster pronounces that the myriad evil-doings of the Obama Administration should be “nipped in eaty horsythe butt.” I realize that my kiddo could not sit at the table and consume an entire equine, and I know that the angry online Limbaugh actually wants to nip our dear POTUS in the bud, not in the posterior. I’m hoping on this one.

But when I read in a local newspaper’s restaurant review how the delightful menu of a new downtown eatery will “certainly wet my appetite,” then I start to lose hope. I do enjoy having my appetite whetted, but I’ve never savored the notion of having my appetite drowned.

This wasn’t in the Gazette, Will, so worry not.

Weekly, it seems, adherence to standards of correct grammar slips and slides down the well-greased slope of sloppy English employed by not only everyday people, ersatz authors, cashiers and bosses, and television snake-oil salesmen, but also civic leaders, teachers, and professional journalists—the very enlightened ones who should know better. Surely it’s not coincidence that the graph of language correctness falls in direct proportion to the rise of communications technology. In the days of instant messaging, pondering the spelling of a possessive proper noun just seems old-fashioned, I guess.

For that matter, who’s to say that this migration away from hard and fast rules is necessarily wrong? It may well be simply the natural order—a Darwinistic evolution of our native tongue, hastened by smartphones and Youtube. Rules of punctuation, letter-writing etiquette, cursive penmanship may all be truly obsolete. “I before e except after c” may go the way of the dodo.

Da Dodo

However, for this installation, kids, I’m calling out the lazy operators of our lexicon. Relaxed rules and metamorphosed language aside, a blooper is still a blooper. Case in point: misused and mangled common sayings. And it’s not “case and point,” by the way. Here are some more colloquial clunkers:

  • Should of. As in, “I should of slowed down before the cop started shooting at my tires.” It may sound like should of, but no. It’s “should have.”

 

  • Free reign. I see this one a lot, and it’s easy to slip up here. But the saying doesn’t mean “free rule.” It comes from the days of horsemanship. To give your horse “free rein” was to loosen your hold on the reins to allow your steed more freedom of movement. Hopefully, your daughter didn’t come home afterward and literally eat your horse.
  • Hunger pains. That same daughter who wants to devour your herbivorous quadruped is suffering not from “hunger pains” but hunger pangs. Pangs, my friend, not pains. It pains me to have to point this out to you.
  • Peak your interest. This should actually be clumped together with “wet your appetite,” but I’m too lazy to box up this paragraph and move it. But anyway, it’s “pique your interest”—to stimulate, not unlike to whet or sharpen. I pique, you pique, she piques.
  • A mute point. Please. It’s not a point that lacks the ability to speak. It’s a moot point. Am I tilting at windmills here?
  • whatPour over. Librarians would really hate it if people poured over their documents. You pore over documents. Not unlike “wetting an appetite,” pouring over a document would get downright messy. Those poor documents.

 

  • Extract revenge. This could get ugly, too. If you’re looking to “extract revenge,” it likely involves pulling something out of your intended victim. Yuck. What you want to do, then, is exact revenge. No extractions, please.
  • He did a complete 360 and reversed course. No he didn’t. He did a 180. If the guy did a 360, he turned a silly circle and ended up facing the exact same way he started. Shee.

That’s all I can bring to mind now. We’ll revisit, perhaps with nice scones and tea next time. I know there are many more misused and abused terms in my language suppository; I’ll drudge them up soon. I’m sure your waiting with baited breath. Irregardless, I know many of you could care less. Literally.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Suburban Worldsick Blues

27 May

by Roger White

 

With a tip of the hat to a master chronicler of the American age, it must be noted that Bob Dylan never lived in a 3/2/2 with central heat/air and two and a half mortgages during a time when, by all appearances, our society is on the verge of utter decay—all viewable with the click of a mouse or touch of a pad.

 

So I give you “Suburban Worldsick Blues.”

 

Perry’s in the Capitol, railin’ against abortion,

I’m lookin’ at my taxes thinkin’ it’s extortion,

The man in the trench coat shootin’ up the school halls

Says he got bullied so everybody must fall.

 

Look out, dad, the economy is bad,

God knows what we did, but the country’s on the skids.

 

You better duck down, turn page, watch out for road rage,

Another mass swhyhooting, another senseless rampage,

Sterling’s on his cell phone reminiscin’ ’bout slavery,

Miley’s twerkin’ onstage, scandalous behavery.

 

Look out, mom, Gotta stay calm,

Soldiers in Kabul dodging roadside bombs.

 

Get sick, get well, they’re laying off again at Dell,

Are we winnin’ whatever war, it’s gettin’ kinda hard to tell,

Presidenidiotst says our healthcare system’s unfit,

All Congress says is where’s your birth certificate?

 

Well, Hormel, GM organizin’ recalls,

Bad meat, bad brakes, pickets down at town hall,

Daughter’s college fees call for medical sedation,

Building border walls to stifle immigration.

 

Look out, pop, no tellin’ where it stops,

Younger daughter’s boyfriend working at a head shop.

 

Mortgage underwater, excess beer consumption,

Viagra wants to help with that erectile dysfunction,

The factonoworkry just made a Chapter 11 declaration,

School board says it’s gonna teach divine creation.

 

Text tweet online, your selfie looking so fine,

Kids in Bosnia steppin’ on old land mines.

Icebergs meltin’, droughts killin’ all the wheat,

Just global warmin’ lies of the liberal elite.

 

Well, get dressed, get stressed, face the day’s traffic mess,

Oops, your job’s just been outsourced to Bangladesh.

Don’t follow leaders, take pills for all the cedars,

Find yourself a new position as a Walmart greeter.

 

Look out, mama, you’re dyin’ from the trauma,

Increase yer Prozac dosage, tune in the dalai lama.

 

Well, jump down a manhole, filibuster gun control,

thebardThink I saw a shadow up there beyond the grassy knoll,

Headin’ to the car, another day in the loony ward,

Shakin’ yer head ’cause the vandals keyed yer new Ford.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

143a.

 

Looking for Just an Ordinary, Average Scholarship

19 Mar

by Roger White

I am an average guy. I live in an average house, and I have an average family with an average dog and cat. Mind you, my wife and two girls are the finest specimens of human average guybeauty and goodness ever, and I love them more than even the ’71 Cowboys, but Herbert Finkbinder in accounting over at the U.S. Census Bureau would just call us average. Know what I mean?

It hit me just how average we are the other day as I started researching ways and means of getting our daughters through college. Lindsey, our oldest, will be a high school senior next year, and the mere thought of paying for four years of university lectures, dissertation programs, dorm keggers and such gave me a nice, average case of angina. Linz is a bright kid—intelligent, talented, creative—but she suffers the crushing disability of being a member of an underserved, underprivileged demographic: the average Wonderbread family.

In my quest for potential scholarships, I, Joe Wonderbread, have found that precious higher-ed hash can be had only if you are highly unique in some way. Say, for example, if you are tall. The Tall Clubs International Student Scholarship is available for women at least 5 feet 10 and for men 6 feet 2. Conversely, the Little People of America Scholarship paves the way for little people to attend college. Strikes one and two. Linz is average height. I also found that the Atheists for Human Rights Award (AHRA) offers university dough for outstanding members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community—not that there’s anything wrong with that—but there’s another strike, unless Linz has been dating that hyperactive guy for a year under false pretenses. Oh, and for the AHRA money, you have to be a Minnesota resident, so even if Linz decides to play for the other team—not that there’s anything etc.—she would have to move to St. Paul to get the funds.

The Chick & Sophie Major Memorial Duck Calling Scholarship, I discovered, is open to HEY YOU DUCKany high school senior in the United States who can call ducks. Compelled to know more, I found that each contestant must follow the rules ordained by the World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest—and that each scholarship applicant has exactly 90 seconds to use the four standard duck calls: hail, feed, comeback and mating. Well, of course. I passed this one by Linz. Strike four.

Strikes five through eight included (these are real, understand) the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship, the Klingon Language Institute Kor Memorial Scholarship for Klingon Language Study, the National Candy Technologists Scholarship, and last but not least, the Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest Scholarship. What is the Duck Brand Duct Tape Stuck on Prom Contest Scholarship, you ask? Simple. Scholarship applicants must attend a high school prom wearing complete attire or accessories made from duct tape. The submission must include a color photograph of the couple together in said duct tape prom attire. Linz turned this down flat, even after I reminded her of Lady Gaga’s rise to stardom. I considered asking wifey to the spring fling—first place is a cool $2,500! I wonder if the Duck Calling Scholarship and the Duck Brand Duct Tape thing could merge somehow. Anyway, strike eight.

 Ummm no

So. Linz wants nothing to do with any of the above, she has little hope of getting a free ride as a college quarterback, and she happens to be the only color of the rainbow that doesn’t have some kind of scholarship fund set up for her advancement. Don’t get me wrong on this. I’m not bitter—any precious bucks that anyone can get based on anything about them—I say more power to them. But the average kid from the average Wonderbread family? Hmph. This got me thinking. We need an average scholarship, for students from typical, run-of-the-mill families with no distinct heritage. What do you say?

I’ll just throw this out there. Off the top of my head. Let’s call it the Average Wonderbread Kid With Average Relaxed Demeanor (AWKWARD) Scholarship for People Of Obscure Personal Ancestry, Genealogy, Etc. (POOPAGE). There you have it. If you’d like to donate, send a minimum of $25 to AWKWARD POOPAGE, P.O. Box 3, Cement, Texas 75555.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Nothing Says ‘Thank You’ Like ‘Thank You’

18 Dec

by Roger White  

 

Sitting cozy in my den the other day, admiring the flames in the fireplace as winter raged outside (it got down into the 40s!), I was given to pause and reflect. Seldom am I given to pause, seldomer still to reflect. Yes, I have been writing long enough to invent words. Seldomer is now a word. I shall even copyright it: Seldomer©. There.

I believe at least once a year, everyone should be required to stop whining, cease shooting the finger at the guy who cut you off in traffic, quit yelling at the idiot politicians, and simply be thankful. As bad as things seem to be, as completely insane as the world appears to have become lately, as absolutely untrainable as the damn cat stubbornly cat from hellremains, I still feel like a very lucky guy. I know there are so many things in this world—this nation particularly—that need to change, but for the most part, things are good. People are good, by and large. I must believe that, or I will drive my car into the Palo Duro Canyon.

So I thought I’d share with you my list of the things I’m thankful for this holiday season. This list is not in order of importance, nor was there any payola involved. If anyone on this list wants to discuss payola retroactively, that can be arranged.

I, Oldspouse, am thankful for the following, give or take:

  • “Relaxed-fit” jeans. Not only am I extremely grateful for relaxed-fit jeans, I am most appreciative of the term “relaxed-fit.” Whoever came up with this wonderful euphemism is a marketing genius. Sounds so much better than the truth: “Old & fat-fit” jeans.
  • Affordable second-hand cars with airbags. My daughters are driving now. Nuff said.
  • Affordable miniature GPS tracking devices. My daughters are dating now. Nuff said.
  • Jon Stewart. The last bastion of straight news, of the real story, Jon is. Without him, the man“Breaking Bad,” and “Seinfeld” reruns, television today would be utterly unwatchable.
  • Mississippi. If it weren’t for the Magnolia State, Texas would be at or very near the bottom of many, many dubious lists, such as education, teen pregnancy, idiotic laws, etc. You can criticize Texas for many things, but at least we don’t incorporate the Stars and Bars into our state flag.
  • Five-hour energy drinks. I know, this one may be controversial, but WOW. The wife and I tried a couple of these tiny little bottles of verve one morning. We’d been out late the previous evening, pretending we were young’uns, and oh, how we felt it. On a lark, we imbibed the “energy supplements.” All I remember of the rest of that day is that after our 10-mile morning run, I rebuilt my lawnmower engine, self-audited my tax returns back to 1987, played my girls one-on-two in tennis, then wrote three chapters of my long-forgotten novel. Then I slept for 18 hours. In the yard.
  • Our Bubbie. Now, this may seem to you a blatant attempt to get in good with the mother-in-law, and you know what? It is! But I have to tell you, this gal can cook. Bubbie’s been the primary source of our Sunday night dinners since I can remember, and if anyone can do better things with a chicken, I need to see it—and taste it. Although I have to add that Bub is one of the main reasons I am thankful for “relaxed-fit” jeans. Well, and beer.
  • Beer. Where would we be without beer? Maybe I should rephrase that. Let me just yea beersay that beer has helped me through many, many horrible Dallas Cowboys games. Without beer, I could not stand to listen to my own garage band play. Without beer, our annual neighborhood holiday parties would be intolerable. And I mean that in the nicest way. I dare say that without beer, no one would ever listen to ZZ Top or Billy Squier.
  • My babies—all three of them. You know who you are. Tolerance, patience, forgiveness, and love are mighty, mighty powerful things. For that, and for my three lovely gals, I am eternally thankful. Seldom do I really say how thankful I am for you—and seldomer still do I say how much I love you. Well, and beer.

 

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat dachshund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

Rolling the Jargon Dice

21 Feb

by Roger White

Understand as I launch into this column that I work for an education association. And I have worked for this education association for a long, long time. In my long, long time with this education association, I’ve learned many things. However, I think the main thing I’ve learned is that people in the education world speak a language that is very different from normal humans. (Now, let me tell you that I’m talking management types here—you know, campus administrators and on up. If actual teachers talked this way, all of America’s children would be wandering about, zombie-like and unblinking. Like Joaquin Phoenix.)

Anyway, in my tenure here, I have come not only to understand education jargon, I have learned to embrace it. Therefore, I founded EJUCIMUSE.

And here at the EJUCIMUSE Headquarters (EJUCIMUSE being an acronym for Education Jargon Use Cause It Makes Us Sound Elite, of course), in our ever-vigilant attempts to utilize jargon, gibberish, and edu-speak whenever possible, we are proud to announce the creation of the MANURE Generator.

MANURE (Mechanism to Advance New Understanding for Renewal in Education) is the brainchild of Jerry Taylor, educational technology director for Arcadia Middle School in Greece, New York. Taylor unveiled the MANURE Generator not long ago in the National School Boards Association’s School Board News newsletter, and it has been getting rave reviews . . . I mean, its outcomes-based approach dynamic has received initial focus-group consensus.

Here’s how MANURE was formed: According to Taylor, throughout his 30-year career as a teacher (also known in some circles as transitive knowledge facilitator), he noticed that many teach–, sorry, many transitive knowledge facilitators and knowledge transfer management personnel (administrators) sometimes fall behind in their utilization of proper edu-speak. So Taylor made MANURE. This fascinating device not only can keep edu-speak proponents up-to-the-minute, it makes a great party game and a nice dessert topping.

Now here’s how MANURE works: If you are ever caught at a meeting, focus group, performance evaluation, or happy hour shop talk without the latest edu-speak term or phrase, simply whip out your pocket-sized MANURE Generator and a pair of dice. You’ll soon be spouting the most eloquent of nonsensical jargon.

The MANURE Generator consists of three columns of words. These could be called Column A, B, and C. But for our purposes, we’ll call them Initializing Column I(a), Activating Column II(b), and Terminus Column III(c).

And here they are:

Initializing Column          Activating Column        Terminus Column

2.         Integrated                                 Behavioral                                Strategies

3.         Individualized                         Relevant                                    Methodology

4.         Criteria                                       Assessment                              Cooperative

5.         Flexible                                      Prescriptive                              Analysis

6.         Authentic                                  Perceptual                                Learning

7.         Facilitated                                Interaction                               Functions

8.         Responsive                               Modular                                   Objectives

9.         Alternative                               Diagnostic                                Concept

10.       Performance                            Structured                               Recovery

11.       Cognitive                                   Situational                                Management

12.       Systemic                                   Evaluative                                 Reform

Simply roll the dice (otherwise known as the MANURE Generator Activation Modules) to select a word from the Initializing Column, a word from the Activating Column, and one from the Terminus Column. Do you want fried or steamed rice with that? Note that since you can’t roll a 1, the columns start at No. 2, Einstein. Voila! It’s that easy.

You’ll have your colleagues wanting desperately to know more about Facilitated Situational Objectives with quick rolls of 7, 11, and 8. Land on 11, 2, 6 and you have created the Cognitive Behavioral Learning school of thought.

The great thing is, you don’t necessarily have to work in the education world to avail yourself of this sensational tool. A tinker here and there to the columns as necessary can produce a powerful jargon generator for any business. In other words, put your hands in the MANURE, work it around a bit, and you can easily shape it to your liking.

Then I believe you should wash your hands.

I must say that we here at EJUCIMUSE have been so impressed by Taylor’s MANURE that we unanimously voted him Edu-Speak Vociferator of the Biennium. We got a plaque for him and everything, but Taylor couldn’t make the awards ceremony. He was giving a lecture in Washington, D.C., on Alternative Diagnostic Recovery.

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat daschund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.

A Family Fix for Texas’ Fiscal Funk

26 Jan

by Roger White

Life in my family is surely like life in many families across Texas and the nation: Mom and dad work to pay the bills; we try hard not to extend our credit beyond our means; our kids must tend to their academics before they can play; and we try to give back what we can to causes we cherish.

I’ve been thinking long and hard about Texas’ fiscal situation—namely the 82nd Legislature’s estimated $27 billion deficit and the dire conditions our public school districts face in the months and years ahead. It is tragic. Schools are being closed; teachers are being laid off by the hundreds; facility construction, renewal, and maintenance are stagnating; and, most importantly, our students are facing the prospect of not receiving the education they so deserve.

 

Schoolwork First, then Playtime

I have a simple solution—simplistic, actually. What if we thought of our state, and everything in it, as one big Lone-Star-sized family? And in that aspect, we prioritize things. For example, we tend to the state’s academics before we can play. Now, think about this for a minute. If we as a people truly hold the education of our children in the highest regard, why then are we paying college football coaches, for instance, millions of dollars while our public school teachers struggle to make ends meet?

Don’t get me wrong. I like football as much as the next guy, but does a man who instructs players in how to block and tackle in what is essentially a kid’s game really need to be making more than $500,000 a year? USA Today reported some of the top Texas college coaches’ salaries as of 2010 as the following (not including bonuses):

• Mack Brown, University of Texas, $5.1 million (the highest-paid coach in college football)

• Mike Sherman, Texas A&M, $1.8 million

• Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech, $1.5 million

• Kevin Sumlin, Houston, $1 million

 

It may just be me, but I think half a million bucks is a fine salary, no matter the job. So say the state put a ceiling on outrageous pay such as this—call it the Outrageous Salary Ceiling. If we instituted an OSC on college coaches and mandate that the universities donate the savings to state coffers, from these four salaries alone you would save $7.4 million.

And speaking of children’s games, Forbes Magazine listed the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans of the National Football League as having the Number 1 and Number 5 top net financial worth rankings, respectively, in the league as of 2009. The Cowboys were listed as being worth $1.85 billion; the Texans $1.71 billion. If the state could issue a Kids’ Games Tax on these franchises of $100 million each, there’s $200 million right there.

Forbes also listed the state’s three National Basketball Association teams—Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs—as having the number 6 ($470 million), 7 ($446 million), and 10 ($398 million) top net worth rankings, respectively, in the league as of December 2009. Applying a KGT to these franchises at, say, $30 million each would give the state another $90 million.

Likewise, Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros and Texas Rangers are 10th and 11th, respectively, in their league’s list of net worth rankings, coming in at $453 million and $451 million. The Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League are worth $227 million. A $30 million KGT on these franchises adds yet another $90 million.

We’re at $387.4 million saved, just from placing academics ahead of athletics.

Giving Back

Now, keeping in the family milieu, what about giving back what we can? Turning again to Forbes, the magazine’s list of the 400 wealthiest Americans contains the following 25 richest Texans (followed by their net wealth):

• Alice Walton (Wal-Mart)                             $20 billion                                          

• Michael Dell (Dell)                                       $14 billion

• Andrew Beal (banking, real estate)              $6 billion

• Charles Butt (supermarkets)                         $5.3 billion

• Richard Kinder (pipelines)                           $5.2 billion

• Harold Simmons (investments)                    $5 billion

• Ray Lee Hunt (oil, real estate)                     $4.3 billion

• John Paul DeJoria (hair products, tequila)    $4.2 billion

• Robert Rowling (investments)                     $4.1 billion

• Robert Bass (oil, investments)                      $4 billion

• H. Ross Perot Sr. (computers, real estate)    $3.4 billion

• John Arnold (hedge funds)                          $3.3 billion

• Randa Williams (pipelines)                           $3.1 billion

• Dannine Avara (pipelines)                            $3.1 billion

• Milane Frantz (pipelines)                              $3.1 billion

• Scott Duncan (pipelines)                              $3.1 billion

• Trevor Rees-Jones (oil, gas)                          $3 billion

• Timothy Headington (oil, investments)        $2.65 billion

• Mark Cuban (Broadcast.com)                      $2.5 billion

• Richard Rainwater (real estate, energy)       $2.3 billion

• Rodney Lewis (natural gas)                         $2.25 billion

• Lee Bass (oil, investments)                           $2 billion

• George Mitchell (energy)                             $2 billion

• Sid Bass (oil, investments)                           $2 billion

• Jerry Jones (NFL team owner)                     $2 billion

If you’re not certain how much one billion dollars is, it’s a thousand million dollars. Each of the above fine folks has at least two thousand million bucks, some much more. If each of these billionaires contributed $500 million each, they would not only get fantastic tax write-offs, they would add $12.5 billion to the state’s sadly depleted account. Now we’re at $12,887,400,000.

The next-richest Texans, according to Forbes, are the following:

Jeffrey Hildebrand (oil)                                  $1.9 billion

David Bonderman (leveraged buyouts)          $1.8 billion

Kelcy Warren (pipelines)                                $1.8 billion

Edward Bass (oil, investments)                      $1.5 billion

Joe Jamail (lawsuits)                                       $1.5 billion

Thomas Friedkin (car dealerships)                  $1.5 billion

Drayton McLane (Wal-Mart, logistics)           $1.45 billion

Robert McNair (energy, sports)                      $1.4 billion

Gerald J. Ford (banking)                                 $1.4 billion

T. Boone Pickens (oil, investments)                $1.4 billion

H. Ross Perot Jr. (computers, real estate)       $1.4 billion

Chistopher Goldsbury (salsa)                          $1.3 billion

Billy Joe McCombs (radio, oil, real estate)     $1.3 billion

Ray Davis (pipelines)                                      $1.3 billion

Todd Wagner (Broadcast.com)                      $1.2 billion

Kenneth Adams (oil)                                      $1.15 billion

William Moncrief (oil)                                    $1.1 billion

Kenny Troutt (communications)                     $1.1 billion

Samuel Wyly (investments)                            $1 billion

Darwin Deason (computers)                           $1 billion

Since these guys have a paltry $1 billion or so, let’s say they give only $250 million each. That’s $5 billion, which brings our total to more than $17.88 billion.

Throw in $750 million in federal education money Governor Rick Perry so blithely rejected because, as Perry said, Texas “would have to follow national curriculum standards” (what is he smoking?), and we now have well more than $18 billion. I’ll put my money where my mouth is and throw in $100, which tops us off at $18,637,400,100. That would pay plenty of teacher salaries; that could open lots of shiny, new school buildings.

I realize this is a ridiculous exercise. Things don’t work this way. It’s also just as ridiculous, however, that Texas public education should be in such a desperate financial situation. What if we really did make education a priority?

Roger White is a freelance writer living in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife, two precocious daughters, a very fat daschund, and a self-absorbed cat. For further adventures, visit oldspouse.wordpress.com.