After the water security consultant left, Mayor Roberto Gonzalez asked his friend, Emilio Vasquez, to leave as well.
We have another issue we need to talk about, Gonzalez said. Later.
After Vasquez left the room, Gonzalez thanked Kekionga Optics CEO Sadie Palmer for hosting the secret meeting to investigate thefts of water.
In the year 2062, few people cared about gold or silver or cocaine or rare baseball cards. Water was the world’s most valuable commodity.
I’d like to discuss my education initiative, he told Palmer while his deputy mayor, Angelica Lewis, looked on.
Gonzalez really wanted to win the upcoming election to achieve his biggest goal yet: Returning quality public education to the city.
It didn’t take that many decades for nationwide efforts to privatize education to decimate public education.
For those who could afford it, schools had become better than ever. The private schools finally started teaching based on the learning styles of their individual students, and those students were the best educated in history.
But privatization and anti-tax efforts eventually choked the public schools. The dropout rates became so high that schools stopped counting. The rate went down for awhile in the 2020s, after schools finally dropped algebra – the single biggest cause of high dropout rates.
But vouchers eventually disappeared, and tax reductions left only a minimal amount for education. So the government contracted out with a private company to offer online education.
Seven decades after the term was coined, the digital divide still existed. As technology kept advancing, only the rich could keep up with the improvements. Some students still had to use ancient iPads long after the iQuark made them all but obsolete. And when Apple went out of business and the private schools switched to Taus, public education barely existed.
Gonzalez wanted to change that. He believed that classrooms were vital because kids didn’t learn just academics, they learned how to interact with other people.
Fort Wayne wouldn’t be the first city to revive public schools, but most were smaller. The mayor’s plan was to start in the poorest area of the city – Aboite Township – and grow from there.
He had begun preparing for this since he was first elected in 2042. The city still had about 10 million U.S. dollars left from a big $75 million sale of the old City Light electric utility, and Gonzalez quietly invested the money – which had now grown to nearly 40 million Amerinotes.
But that wasn’t enough money, and he needed some local champions. That’s where Sadie Palmer came in.
Palmer was also passionate about public education. She was the chairwoman of the Chamber of Commerce, was head of the company that was the biggest employer in the city, was extremely smart, and believed in spending her money for worthy causes. She was willing to provide money and be an outspoken advocate.
My staff has prepared the Tau ads, Palmer said. Shelby, could you please send the education ads to my Tau?
Already done, Shelby Loredo replied.
Loredo hated this PR crap. She wanted to be doing science, not marketing. She had tons of experience in hydraulics and engineering, and she wanted to put that to use. But the boss decided the 1 millionth resident thing that Loredo won was a big public relations victory for Kekionga Optics, and given Loredo’s attractive appearance and charisma, she wanted Loredo on everyone’s Tau – not doing research.
But Loredo was making good money, her three sons were happy, she liked Fort Wayne a lot better than Chicago.
Plus, she had just met this guy named after her favorite jazz musician.