By July 21, 2016 Uncategorized No Comments

From the movie “Dumbo” to Saturday morning cartoons, the image of an elephant cowering from a tiny mouse is pretty well established.

A 2007 episode of the Mythbusters television show actually seemed to validate this theory, as evidenced by this short video clip.

But, have you heard that elephants are even more terrified of ants?

Researchers have discovered that ants in Africa’s sub-Saharan savannah are the bane of elephants’ lives, with the pachyderms steering clear of trees infested with them to avoid having any ants crawl up their sensitive trunks.

Scientists Jacob Goheen and Todd Palmer observed that during a really dry year most trees were obliterated by hungry elephant herds. Only a single species of tree stood up untouched: the Acacia drepanolobium, also called the whistling-thorn tree or ant tree.

According to the scientist’s studies, the acacias are a refuge for ants. They feed them with a sweet substance and, in exchange, the ants will attack the elephants whenever they get near it, invading their trunks and biting them badly.

The scientists tested this by feeding the plant to the animals with and without ants, as well as other species with and without ants. The elephants didn’t touch any vegetation with ants in them.

After that, they altered the ant population in the wild trees. The same trees, with no ants, got badly damaged by elephants. Their conclusion is that ants, the tiniest of animals on the African Savannah, trump the largest animal in those fields.

According to Dr. Palmer, the ants act as bodyguards for these trees to keep trampling elephants at bay. “Swarming groups of ants that weigh about 5 milligrams each can and do protect trees from animals that are about a billion times more massive,” Dr. Palmer said.

Palmer added, “an elephant’s trunk is a truly remarkable organ, but also appears to be their Achilles heel when it comes to squaring off with an angry ant colony.”

Anybody else smell a metaphor here?

The official seal for the United States Department of Education is composed of a large, vibrant tree, its leaves, and sun rays. As described on the National Council for Educational Statistics (NCES) website:

“With its sturdy trunk set in solid earth, the tree expresses the confidence and strength imparted to the individual through the development of the mind and the assimilation of knowledge. The glory and satisfaction of achievement are exhibited in its leaves. The background of sun and rays suggests the role of the Department in the promotion, nurturing, and encouragement of the best in all aspects of the nation’s educational system.”

The Elephants of education reform – politicians, policy makers, and corporate raiders – would love to have unfettered access to the tree of public education.

However, rather than maintaining one powerful, sustainable tree to serve as a canopy for ALL of America’s children, the Elephants would replace it with multiple smaller trees, each competing for their share of sunlight and nourishment.

Some trees would be planted in rich soil and afforded an ample supply of water and high quality nutrients. With these advantages, the leaves of the tree would flourish, providing shade and comfort for those fortunate to fit under its highly selective canopy.

Others trees would be planted in barren soil with poor quality sunlight and allowed to slowly starve. As their leaves die and fall to the ground due to neglect, the Elephants would label them failing trees and quickly consume them.

A few of the lucky children might find shade under another tree. Yet, others would be left to seek shelter in a hostile and unforgiving landscape, with minimal protection from the elements.

The notion of sharing the shade of only ONE tree, and investing our nation’s best efforts in sustaining it, is contrary to the Elephant’s stated ideal of separate and unequal trees.

The privileged of our society will always be able to choose whichever strong and stable tree they want, while the less fortunate of children scurry for shade under sparse saplings that may be trampled or devoured by the Elephants at any time.

This is the reformers’ vision for America. They have money, power, and influence. They are Elephants.

The tree of public education has served our nation well for well over a hundred years. If properly nourished and maintained, it will continue to provide ample shelter for all of our children for generations to come.

If the Elephants are permitted to bring it down, the American ideal of equality of opportunity for all citizens will forever fade away.

The only thing that will stop this vision from happening is the constant stinging from a swarm of angry, protective ants.

Are you ready to be an angry ant?

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