Monday, March 30, 2009

Holy Pink Slips Batman!

In spite of the pink slip debacle, many students at South East decided to take matters into their own hands and hold a rally in support of their teachers.

However, saying you will support your teachers and actually supporting them are too different things. Many students were unsure and confused, not knowing what to do or where to begin or how to show support, which is where Ms. Jordan stepped in.

Ms. Jordan is a first year English teacher of caucasian background. Typically a first year teacher of caucasian heritage in the inner city follows a simple mathematical paradigm which can be summarized with the following equation:


In the case of an English teacher, this can be amended to:


Jordan breaks this mold, she has assimilated classroom management at a speed that would astonish the Borg. Students adore her, she guides a class like a master sea captain in charge of a 17th century clipper, cutting through the tides with a deft touch and open smile.

At this pace within 5 years she'll ascend to teacher Godhood.

Of course she's not really a first year teacher. She had practical experience managing teenagers when she worked as an assistant manager at an IN & OUT.

Maybe all new teachers should first work in fast food management first.

Jordan decided to help the students along by coordinating a pink slip rally. Close to forty of them volunteered as they made banners, posters, and pink hearts with bobby pins and ribbons for 2000 students to wear. It was a herculean task, but Jordan managed to pull it off in about two days. She contacted Leadership to help provide audio equipment and public speakers, and the band to provide drums.

She asked me if I would help promote it.

Being the attention whore that I am, naturally I said yes.

But since this was a student sponsored awareness rally, I wanted to include the students. It was time for the Comedy Club to launch its first humor assault. It's mission, operation "Student Pink Slip Awareness."

A week earlier at the club meeting one of the elite Comedy soldiers brought in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

At that moment she earned 100 respect points. Clearly, the comedy club was ready to enter the big leagues.

It was time for them to help promote the student awareness rally.

Initially I planned only to write one blurb for an "emergency" morning announcement. I settled on a 1960's TV show Batman parody entitled: Pink Slip of Death. We would start the announcement by singing the Batman TV theme, "Duh-nuh na-na, duh-nuh na-na - BATMAN!" Then Batman and Robin would talk about the evil Economy and what we could do to solve the problem.

I assigned two students to play the lead roles when I discovered that one of them could impersonate the Joker.

It was all working out. I asked the principal for permission, he referred me to the AP. "If it's okay with her, it's okay with me." I nodded..."ohh-kay."

Sometimes I'm amazed what the principal lets me get away with.

That Wednesday we practiced it. Robin was being played by a boy, Batman a girl. I told Robin that he needed to act more excited, every sentence uttered like Chicken Little with the utmost important news. After a few more dry runs, he still wasn't uttering the lines with enough emphasis.

"Think of Robin as a flaming gay guy." Batman cuts in.


"Piper down there Batman, you need to act tougher."

"Excuse me Mr. Leiken, but that's hard because I have a vagina."

That Thursday we read the announcement: "Duh-nuh na-na Duh-nuh na-na - BATMAN!" we sing. The secretaries in the office turn to stare as the comedy soldiers take their places besides the mike. The entire front office freezes.

For a moment, the comedy club has the school's attention.

"Tonight's episode: PINK SLIP OF DEATH!"

ROBIN: Leaping Lizard's Batman, teachers at South East have been pink slipped. They could lose their jobs.

BATMAN: Right Robin! It's a villian unlike any other we've faced.

ROBIN: The Joker's gone too far this time!

BATMAN: Sorry old chum! It isn't the Joker.

ROBIN: Then who? Is it the Penguin? The Riddler - Cat Woman!

BATMAN: No Robin, this time it's LAUSD and the financial system.

ROBIN: So it's the ECONOMY that's behind this!

I bump into Jordan the next day and she asks if we'll do a second announcement. I haven't written anything, I haven't spoken to the Comedy Club, and announcements are less then two hours away. I tell her I'll see what I can do.

Except I only know my comedy soldiers by their Christian names. I ask some of the other teachers if they see them to send them over. Not knowing if they'll show up, I start working on a second announcement.

Fortunately I'm in luck, Batman walks in. She's "slashed" herself in red lipstick for the protest rally. I order her to find Robin and ask the pair of them to finish writing the announcement. I've got a class to teach.

Normally when students write I have to go back and clean up their mess, but I figure that the pair of them will do an adequate enough job which will save me time.

Towards the end of class I walk over to see how far they've progressed. Then it happens.

Students have managed to improve on something I've done.

It hasn't happened since I've started teaching, in almost five years.

I'm stunned. This must be what it is like not to teach special ed!

We rush to get permission, then perform the second announcement. This time I'm the voice of Robin, casting the girl as Batman and the boy as the Joker.

"Da-nuh nuh-nuh, Da-nuh nuh-nuh BATMAN!"

"Tonight's Episode," I announce grandly, "PINK SLIP of DEATH! Last time on BATMAN we found our heroes struggling to fight the economy!"

JOKER: Hello Batsy! Just wanted to say that this time, the joke's on you!

BATMAN: Pink slips are no laughing matter Joker. We'll stop you.

ROBIN: Holy hand grenades. I knew that the Joker was behind this!

JOKER: Wrong again, boy wonder! It's the ECONOMY, stupid. I don't have to do anything wrong, this time it's LAUSD!

BATMAN: Haven't you learned by now Joker, evil never prevails.

JOKER: Ok basty and boy wonder, let's play the waiting game, lets see how many people join your rally. Tick tock goes the clock! (laughs)

ROBIN: Holy Guacamole! Time is running out!

Will South East defeat the Economy! Will they save their teachers? Can Batman and Robin flip the switch? Will they turn the tables on the joker? (laughs) Stay tuned next time, same Jaguar time, same Jaguar channel!

"Duh nuh nuh-nuh Duh nuh nuh-nuh BATMAN!"

Later in class I ask the students what they thought of the announcement.

"What announcement?"

"The Batman announcement."

"Oh yeah," one of them squints, "wasn't that about a rally or something?"

"Was that suppossed to be funny, Mister?"

"Yes." I reply. "It was."

An hour later I'm feeling slightly disheartened when a pair of students pass by in the hallway.

"Duh-nuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh, Duh-nuh nuh-nuh nuh-nuh BATMAN!" they chant.

I turn.

They run out the door laughing.

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