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?
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
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.