The teacher writes the numbers on the board.
2 + 2 =
She turns to the class. Silent.
Eyes creep to the corners to see their neighbors.
“We’ve gone over this. What does two plus two equal?”
A girl in the back, braids clicking, raises her hand.
The teacher smiles.
“Thank you. Any other responses?”
A grumpy boy slouched in the middle raises his hand.
“I heard it was 5.”
The teacher smiles at the boy.
“Well, some people are saying that 2 + 2 = 5.”
A voice from the back shoots out
The teacher reminds
“Please raise your hand.”
The boy is out of his seat; back at a 45-degree angle, his hand near the fluorescent light bulbs.
“No. 2 + 2 = 4. That’s it! That’s what Mrs. Florence taught us in 1st grade.”
The grumpy boy growls
“Mrs. Florence is a Communist. You can’t trust anything she says.”
“But that doesn’t mean 2 + 2 = 5.”
“That doesn’t mean it doesn’t?”
“What are you even talking about?”
The teacher breaks in
“Now, children. No need to break the rules of decorum. Sam, Trevor, we’re just going to have to wrestle with the fact that you don’t agree.”
Down the hall two contractors work on remodeling a classroom.
One extends his tape measure along the wall, bending the tape into the corner. Precisely 24 feet.
He calls out.
“It doesn’t look like 24,”
his partner replies.
“Measure it yourself, then.”
He breaks out his own tape measure and draws it along the wall.
“Just like I thought. 27.”
The first contractor is confused. He measured it. It said 24.
“Let me see.”
He looks at the number on the tape measure. Sure enough. It shows 27. He races to the other corner and there are no kinks. It really does read 27.
“I’m going to remeasure.”
So the first one takes out his tape and checks the corner, follows the wall and bends it into the other corner. Again it reads 24.
“How can this be? Mine says 24 and yours says 27. Let me see your tape measure.”
He compares the two. Sure enough, the measurements on the second tape measure are different.
“Where’d you get this?”
“I had to special order it. I don’t trust what you get at Lowe’s or Home Depot. They peddle fake tools.”
The next afternoon, parents gather at pickup. One mom, still fuming, unloads on the mother of her daughter’s best friend.
“OK, so I had this meeting with principal Tucker about how Mrs. Heart treated Trevor in class yesterday. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t dealing with the student who argued that 2+2 would equal 5! I was floored! And for her to send him to the principal because he refused to stop insisting that we teach actual math? I couldn’t even.
“So I got there and you know what he said? “Mrs. Martin, I’m concerned about your son’s behavior.” And I was like “Are you kidding me? Your teacher, YOUR teacher is letting some students think 2+2=5! She isn’t even teaching math! She’s letting them make up shit!
“And you know what he said then?”
Her friend responds:
“I can guess.”
“Oh yeah! He told me to back off and watch my mouth. Of course he’d make a bigger deal of my getting a little heated than about his teacher lying to my son.”
Another parent, standing about 10′ away interjects
“It wouldn’t be a big deal if teachers didn’t lie all the time.”
The mothers look at each other with a “who’s this f-ing guy?” look.
“We wouldn’t have to agree to disagree if those lying teachers weren’t teaching our kids alternative facts. They’re the ones ruining society.
“Them and the immigrants. And those blacks rioting in their own cities.”
With all the control she can muster, Mrs. Martin replies
“Excuse me, sir, but we’re having a conversation and didn’t invite your opinion.”
“Ooh! Look at the hypocrisy! Can’t take the conflict? How PC.”
he fires back.
“No, my son got punished for standing up for truth and decency. I was sharing with my friend that the principal is more concerned with conflict than honesty.
“But you seem to be standing up for neither justice nor honesty. You fail to see the difference between a fact and an opinion.
“Oh, and we didn’t invite that opinion!”
The man begins
when the boy and two girls come running up and Mrs. Martin’s attention is again focused on her children and their best friend.