October 29th 2014
The education of our children has always been a paramount concern for the Empire. Schools are revered institutions; we entrust them with our greatest treasures in the hopes that they will be equipped with the intellectual and social training to become productive members of our society.
So when a school betrays that trust, the shock and anger feels that much deeper.
Between pulling shifts at the local Covalex shipping station and the occasional cargo run, Marcus Collier spends what little time remains in his day with his two daughters: Lorelai, 15, and Ishi, 9.
Ishi made spaceship sounds as she raced around the living room, guiding a small model ship through the air, while Lorelai attentively watched the wallscreen. Ishi dreams of being a racer while Lorelai aspires to be a scientist. This week anyway.
“She seems to change her mind whenever she comes across a new show or text,” Marcus said from the kitchen of the family’s small two-bedroom flat located in the outskirts of New Junction on Lo. “Last year it was a doctor. That was all she’d talk about, all she’d read. Before that it was an engineer, then an architect.”
There is one thread that ran through all of Lorelai’s careers: learning. She loves it.
“I remember talking to other parents right before Lorelai started school, they kept warning me about how rough those early days of school were, but she took to it instantly.”
Talking to several of Lorelai’s teachers, she was not only enthusiastic, but gifted too.
“She definitely didn’t get it from me,” Marcus said with a slight chuckle. He watched her in silence for a few moments as she flipped between several shows on the spectrum before settling on a news program, he continued; “yeah, I was terrible at school.”
Lorelai had taken her Equivalency earlier in the year. She counted the days until the results arrived, hoping that it could lead to scholarship opportunities to Rhetor and finally unlock her dream career, whatever that may be.
“I knew she was going to be bouncing off the walls until she found out how she did, so I reached out to a friend who worked at the school.”
His contact was able to take a quick look at the results shortly before the Equivalency scores were released. Lorelai had scored in the top two percent of the district.
“Like I said, I knew she was smart, but … I’ll be honest, it floored me. Knowing that with scores like that, she’d be able to get to the top schools and be as incredible as I know she can be. It was really something.”
So imagine Marcus’ surprise when the school released the results three days later and he found out that Lorelai’s test scores were deemed inconclusive due to data corruption.
“It seemed like a nightmare. I talked to my friend who had no idea what happened. Talking to the Administrators at her school was no better. They just kept saying that random data corruption was rare, but did happen. Period. I mean, what am I supposed to do with that?”
Marcus refused to accept the official line and began his own investigation into Lorelai’s school. It would take over six months of digging and questioning until he uncovered a shocking connection.
The dismissal of Arthur Bennio, a mid-level official at the Imperial Department of Education, on alleged corruption charges turned out to be the key to his investigation. Marcus was able to establish a direct connection between Bennio and Keena Astrid, the Head Administrator at Lorelai’s school.
Finally, Marcus took the shocking evidence to a childhood friend, Officer Robert Coresa of the New Junction Police Department who began to dig deeper.
The official investigation uncovered a ring of alleged Equivalency-fixing, claiming that Astrid and other local Administrators would strategically corrupt high-scoring students in their districts in order to drive down the average test score in an effort to qualify for Educational Equivalency Imperial Funding grants, intended to provide financial aid to areas where educational scores are lacking.
“I don’t understand why they would jeopardize a child’s future in order to get money,” Marcus said, distant and still haunted. “I just … I don’t know.”
So what are we, as a society, left with? An Imperial program that benefits suffering school systems sounds like a wonderful idea aimed at strengthening our weakest link, but if that system is being exploited to subsidize a school district that doesn’t need the credits, should we amend the system to reward academic excellence? Or is that creating opportunities for a different type of exploitation?
Complicated questions with even more complicated answers. Despite efforts to recover the data, Lorelai’s Equivalency results were still lost, forcing her to retake the test.
They are still awaiting the results.
In the meantime, Lorelai revealed to her father that she’s now interested in politics.