Monday, September 24, 2007

Paideia’s Secret Plan

Hey, my fellow alums. Have y’all been by Paideia lately? The campus has finally made it all the way to Oakdale. Beyond, if you include the 1341 Building (whatever that is). If Paideia’s Web site is to be believed, much spine-tingling progress has been made on the newly acquired property since the end of the academic year last June:

“The townhouses located at the corner of Oakdale and South Ponce de Leon
were demolished to make way for the construction of our new junior high building, gym, black box theater and campus green.”

Yep. I told you that would happen. It was only a matter of time.

In the Spring of 1996, some 12 years after I graduated, the faculty adviser of The Forum contacted me and asked me to write an article for a special edition of the paper. I considered the events of that day and presented my predictions on the likely future of Paideia.

Here is that 1996 account of Paideia’s destiny. Looks like we’re moving in the right direction.

Paideia’s Secret Plan

Paideia’s Campaign for the ’90s was recently declared a huge success after raising $5.8 million to buy the neighboring condominium property. This is proof positive that not only is Paideia the proud institution we have always known it to be, but also a successful corporate entity which is carving its niche in the marketplace. This is a grand achievement, and one Paideia folk — old or new — have a right to be proud of. But, what few know is that the Campaign was merely the first step in a far larger scheme dating back to the early ’70s.

I stumbled onto the plot in 1982 when, as a Forum editor, I went through Paul Bianchi’s desk looking for evidence in a Disciplinary Committee case in which I thought a fellow student had been wrongly accused. What I found was shocking and, in those days, scandalous. If the details of this scheme had been made public in the ’80s, it surely would have spelled the end of Bianchi’s regime. Paideia’s Board of Directors knew the plans had fallen to someone in my class and, in fact, the graduation of the class of 1984 was nothing less than an attempt to get rid of us lest word of the plan get out. Now that Phase One has been completed, however, the time is right to disclose the details of Paideia’s Secret Plan.

The Great Garage Sale and Paideia Place were early clandestine tests of Paideia’s fund raising power. These were followed closely by the purchase of the Mother Goose building and the SYDA Foundation property as a fledgling Paideia outflanked the condominiums and began its ten-year siege. This much you know. The rest may shock you.

Over the next ten years, Paideia will continue to accept contributions from parents, alums, foundation grants and major corporations. Paideia will also begin to explore new methods of gaining capital. According to the Plan, by 1999 Paideia will rent out the multi-purpose building for conventions, beginning with the Shriners. The school should pick up a few extra dollars by offering the services of Carol Cooper, the school crossing guard, to keep students from injury by the tiny clown cars. The school also intends to copyright all material taught by its faculty so that it might collect royalties any time an alum uses knowledge learned in any Paideia class.

By 2006, Paideia will incorporate under the new name “PaideiaCorp” and offer its wood-chip stock on the open market. Benefits to employees will increase, with faculty and staff being offered stock options and matching funds in the company’s 401(pre-K).

As time passes, age will take its toll even on the ageless Tom Pearce — still 39 and holding — and one by one the current Paideia employees will retire and, inevitably, die. As Paideia loses its faculty, the plan calls for them to be replaced by former students. All incoming students will be children or grandchildren of former students. Eventually, like some academic ouroboros, only Paideia graduates will teach Paideia students.

As PaideiaCorp’s coffers swell, it will begin to flex its monetary muscle and resume its westward march down Ponce de Leon, acquiring properties at the rate of one or two a year. Paideia should acquire the Krishna Temple on South Ponce by 2015. By 2031, Paideia will finally have a cafeteria after the purchase of the Majestic. By 2045, student housing will be located in what is now the Clermont Lodge.

The Steering Committee will have offices in City Hall East (the old Sears building). It will raise additional funds by selling textbooks at Krispy Kreme during break.

Phase II will end when the campus reaches Peachtree Street in 2071. At that time, Paul Bianchi will, along with Terrell Weitman, be preserved cryogenically and thawed only to make major decisions regarding the direction the Plan should take.

By the close of the next century, there will be tens of thousands of alums, parents, grandparents and the like all sending money to the school. This will mark the beginning of Phase III of the Plan when Paideia will make profit on donations alone and will no longer need to teach students. The students — still considered assets because of their paying grandparents — will be leased to Westminster.

By the school’s 200th anniversary, the Plan will be complete. PaideiaCorp will be a multi-million dollar corporation reaping the benefits of investments begun by us ... right now. The Plan conceived by Paul Bianchi in the early 1970s reaches far into the future. In a scant two centuries, Paideia will have grown from “The Little School That Could” to “The Great Big One That Could Whup Yo’ Ass” ... and we have seen only the beginning.