Underground Education
By Blackjack [Blackjack's Shadowrun Page: www.BlackjackSR.com] [BlackjackSRx@gmail.com] [@BlackjackSRx]

Posted: 1996-09-23

Transcript of WZIX-Seattle reporter Bob Anderson's interview with Alex Jacobs, director of the Underground Education Project in Seattle.

BOB: I'd first like to thank you for granting me this opportunity to interview you. You're normally quite reluctant to go public in any way.

ALEX: Well, as you know, the Underground Ed Project isn't exactly the most popular institution in the city.

BOB: I'm guessing many of our viewers aren't even familiar with the Project. Could you give us a quick rundown on what it's all about?

ALEX: Sure thing. The Underground Education Project is a system of small schools catering to children 15 and under who desire to obtain an education from a source other than the Seattle School System. All locations are a closely guarded secret as are the names of our students and instructors.

BOB: Why all the secrecy?

ALEX: Well, as I said before, the Project isn't the most popular program in the city. Are philosophies and methods of instruction are quite controversial and often times fall outside the guidelines established by local and federal laws.

BOB: If the methods fall below the guideli...

ALEX: I didn't say below, I said outside.

BOB: Could you elaborate on that?

ALEX: The conventional school system uses a ridged structure of guidelines established by so called "experts" who believe they know the one and only way to educate a child. They throw all children into this structure, often times disregarding their individual desires and needs in the name of convenience and efficiency. Many students are unable to work in this environment and therefore drop out. Recent figures show that only half of the children who enter this system ever complete a full twelve years of schooling. This is why I established the Project.

The project operates on the "Learn to Survive" philosophy. We teach children what they want and need to know and don't try to fill their heads with dates from eras they've never lived in and maps of places they've never been. Our method of instruction is customized to each individual student. What the student wants to learn, we teach them.

BOB: And what if they only want to learn about playing video games.

ALEX: You don't give these kids enough credit. They're not stupid. They've seen their friends and family members grow up and become nothing because they didn't learn the right things. Or they've seen them sucked into the corporations and treated like dirt for the sake of a CEOs ninety million nuyen salary.

BOB: Wait a minute. We all know that a majority of the jobs out there are provided by corporations. If these kids don't work for them just who are they going to work for?

ALEX: Themselves.

BOB: You mean in crime.

ALEX: I can see this is where our opinions are going to differ dramatically. What you, and the rest of the corporate world, commonly refers to as "crime" is as big an economic machine as the corps themselves. But it is a machine which allows personal freedom, something the corps aren't all that willing to provide.

BOB: But why should they be permitted to obtain this freedom at the expense of everyday, law abiding citizens.

ALEX: You obviously don't get out much and you obviously watch too much trid. Your so called law abiding citizens are what keep this underground market alive. Who do you think buys the BTLs and drugs? Who do you think hires those individuals known as Shadowrunners? Your law abiding citizens do. Sure you find a lot of people on the street, chipped to high hell, doing nothing for society. But for every one of those "victims" of crime there are a thousand people who have succeeded in the same system.

BOB: So exactly what do you teach, Mr. Jacobs?

ALEX: Whatever these kids need to survive.

BOB: How to kill?

ALEX: Watch yourself.

BOB: Ok, then. How to steal?

ALEX: We teach them the skills of stealth, city geography, electronics, firearms, and a million other things. How they utilize these skills is up to them.

BOB: You mentioned firearms.

ALEX: Yes I did.

BOB: Why would they need to know how to use a gun if they weren't going to shoot somebody?

ALEX: Then perhaps I should ask you why you're currently wearing a Ceska 120 in an ankle holster? Planning on shooting me?

BOB: Uh, uh...

ALEX: You should lower the hem on those pant cuffs, Bob.

BOB: Yeah, well, moving on.

ALEX: Probably a good idea.

BOB: Don't you think the appeal of your underground School might be sucking students away from the legitimate school system?

ALEX: You probably possess the same statistical records that I do and should already know that there has been no abnormal increase in the drop out rate since I established the Project. You see, some kids are going to stick around in school, get a nifty corporate job, and be happy. Certain personalities gravitate toward the idea of stability. On the other hand there are those who can't even begin to picture themselves in a nine to five job and would, even if they stayed in regular school, end up hating their lives. These kids are going to drop out anyway. Why not give them a chance to make something of their lives. Do something they want. Live.

BOB: Or die. The life span of someone who has not finished school is statistically shorter than someone who has.

ALEX: Yeah but a lot of those people never live in the first place. They die the moment they sign their contract.

BOB: One last thing. Do you picture a future in which everybody will choose to live the life these drop out kids have?

ALEX: That idea couldn't be further from my mind. There has to be a balance. Without this balance both systems would fall apart. Society has constructed an environment in which you have dealers, pimps, hookers, thiefs, runners, and any number of "criminal" operations. But you also need somebody to manage the K-Mart. Gotta buy socks somewhere.