Education: Oddly Enough

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The Independent Online
Wages of Sin: Teachers in central Russia will be receiving their monthly salaries in vodka because the government coffers are empty. The 8,000 educators in the Altai Republic will get 15 bottles of vodka each, while local leaders pressure the federal government to pay its debts. Officials in Altai had previously tried to pay part of the teachers wage arrears with toilet paper, but the payments were refused. Vodka, however, was apparently eagerly accepted.

Pillage Idiots: Students angered by low teacher pay stormed off campus and rampaged outside a high school, smashing windows, damaging police cars and looting a convenience store in Albuquerque, Mexico. At least seven students and one teacher were arrested. The Student Senate had planned a peaceful sit-in to back calls to give teachers a 9 per cent pay raise. But, according to Rio Grande junior, Renee Montoya: "The bad kids went crazy". Rio Grande High School closed at noon.

Oz Trials: Roger Baum and Michael Genovese agree on one thing - Toto was just a dog. Beyond that, The Wizard of Oz is either the greatest children's novel ever written, or a story about the collapse of Populism in the late 18th century. According to Baum, the great-grandson of author L Frank Baum, it was written solely to please children. But Genovese, a political science professor, says Oz has a political dimension beyond the yellow brick road. He claims: 1. The Tin Man is the industrial worker, left heartless by dehumanizing work. 2. The brainless Scarecrow is the farmer, too stupid to recognize his political interests. 3. The Cowardly Lion is Williams Jennings Bryan, a Populist leader ridiculed for having more bark than bite. 4. The Wizard is any one of several presidents. 5. The wicked witches of the East and West are the capitalists and bankers who kept the little people (the munchkins) in bondage. But for Baum, all the talk blasphemes a charming book. "This is all insane," he says.