A billboard appeared near Flint, MI on I-69 close to the I-75 off-ramp this week with the simple message ?I’m concerned about the blueberries?.
There is no information on the billboard about who paid for it or what the message represents. News agencies around the state are confused and reporting on the billboard in the hopes of identifying who paid for it.
As one of the largest producers of blueberries, Michigan has many growers and other organizations associated with this crop. None of them are familiar with the meaning of the billboard or who paid to have it erected.
Mlive.com has published some of the comments received about their initial article listing the six most interesting theories about the origin of the billboard.
Some of the expressed theories in the Mlive article are close, and one was spot on. Here are some excerpts:
?Landlord and OC4Me had an interesting theory about ?Blueberries? being students and children: Blueberries=Children, worried about the kids, lack of parents or parenting, society, school can’t fix it, Flint. Where is this going? Nobody has a plan….?
?OC4Me linked to a popular story about a businessman and an English teacher, also comparing children to blueberries.?
The mystery of who paid for the billboard remains, but the story of the blueberries is an easy one to answer.
This story was first printed in Education Week (Volume XXI, Number 25 ? March 6, 2002) titled The Blueberry Story: The Teacher Gives the Businessman a Lesson.
In the story, a businessman, Jamie Vollmer, is lecturing almost 300 teachers at an in-service meeting about how schools need to be run more like businesses. He outlines the proper business practices that made his ice cream manufacturing company successful and that his company had received the award for ?Best Ice Cream in America? from People magazine for their blueberry ice cream. He continued his lecture, stating that schools could be run more effectively using a successful business model, and emphasizing that with examples from his own company.
When Vollmer finished the lecture, a hand shot up. A teacher in the audience questioned him about the ingredients used in his award-winning blueberry ice cream. Vollmer answered politely, stating that only the best ingredients were used. Then the teacher dropped the guillotine:
?Mr. Vollmer, when you are standing on your receiving dock and you see an inferior shipment of blueberries arrive, what do you do??
?He answered as silence enveloped the crowd:
?I send them back.?
This story has been passed around among teachers in Michigan as the current legislature has consistently taken steps toward the increased privatization of our public school system. The cap limiting the number of charter schools has been lifted. The cap limiting the number of cyber schools has been lifted. Regulations regarding the operation and oversight of both charter schools and cyber schools are severely lacking.
The biggest problem with the privatization of education is that charter schools and cyber schools are allowed to return their imperfect blueberries. Public schools must accept them all and provide each blueberry with an education.
I too am concerned about the blueberries… Are you?
Edited/Published by: SB