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Carolyn Bucior

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Teacher Absences: What Would Jesus Say?

Posted: 10/11/11 05:14 PM ET

Researchers have recently documented that students' academic achievement suffers because of their regular teachers' absences.

--Raegen Miller, Associate Director for Education Research, Center for American Progress, writing on StudentsFirst.org blog, April 19, 2011

FADE IN

EXT- TOP OF GENTLE HILL - MORNING

We see a fig tree, full of fruit, and hear a sheep bell ring purposefully. At the bottom of hill, Simon slips on his sandals.

SIMON
Race you to the top!

Twelve men rapidly converge under the tree, wiping their brows on their cloaks. Marty stands before them, fidgeting with his tunic.

PAUL
Where's our teacher?

SIMON
I'm supposed to have fishing today.

MARK
My stomach hurts.

MARTY
Quiet! Jesus is taking a personal day today. He's attending the big home and garden show in Nazareth. I'm your sub, Marty of Haifa.

As Marty asks the class to turn in their descriptive essays on heaven and hell, Judas leans furtively into Simon and switches nametags.

JUDAS
(whispering)
Home of the Haifa Hucksters!

MARTY
Simon, do you have something you'd like to share with the entire class?

JUDAS
No, Mr. H. Forgive me my trespasses.

MARTY
Whatever.

Marty glances at Jesus' lesson plan, then pins it under loose limestone.

MARTY (cont'd)
A math lesson. Zelophehad is having 5,000 friends over for wine and open-faced fish sandwiches. He has five loaves of bread and three fishes.

MARTY
(to himself)
What the...?

He bends to retrieve the Son of God's lesson plan. As he straightens up, he is hit in the back of the head with a hummus ball.

EXT- SECOND FLOOR TERRACE - MORNING

A robed man sporting a waist-length braid sits cross-legged on a woven mat behind a low table, reading from a strip of dried bamboo. The terrace affords an inspiring view of twisted cypress trees and craggy hills. Around him, posters plastered to the house wall read No Peasant Left Behind, There's No I in The Golden Rule and I (heart) Morals.

We read along with the man.

Good morning and thank you for being my sub today. I'm taking a revered ancestor to the acupuncturist (hope he's not a quack!) and should return by afternoon. A couple quick notes.
• Today is pajama day (just a heads up!).
• Bob goes to CSL (Chinese as a second language) class after morning tea.

Early morning
We're working on the final lesson from the workbook Character Counts: The Biggest Character Education Program in the Dynasty. I've marked the page for you.

This is a difficult lesson to teach and I'm sorry to dump this on you!! Today's lesson connects the dots of personal and societal ethics -- kindness, fairness, respect, sincerity, compassionate love for humanity, justice, citizenship and virtue. By the end of the lesson, students should be able to demonstrate to you that they understand the key concepts of reciprocity and harmony.

Late morning
Confucius say dodge ball!

Good luck. Let me know how it goes!

Confucius : )

EXT- LUSH FOREST PARK - LATE AFTERNOON

A man sits atop a book under a bodhi tree. He addresses five gaunt men in yellow robes, themselves seated in the lotus position. Behind them, deer sip from a stream.

A hand-written sign tacked to the tree above the man's head reads: The Buddha is at a professional development day. I am your non-permanent teacher.

The non-permanent teacher speaks slowly, glancing now and then at the lesson plan in his hand.

NON-PERMANENT TEACHER
Our first word is suffering. Education is suffering from lack of funding. ... suffering.

DISCIPLE #1
What?

NON-PERMANENT TEACHER
(Calmly)
Suffering. Education is suffering from lack of funding. ... suffering. Our next word is...

A pause as the non-permanent teacher holds the lesson plan at arms' length. He is having trouble reading it.

... medication. Medication can help us relieve our suffering .... medication.

DISCIPLE #2
Dedication?

NON-PERMANENT TEACHER
(annoyed)
Medication!

DISCIPLE #3
What was the first word again?

NON-PERMANENT TEACHER
(shouting)
First suffering! Then medication!

DISCIPLE #2
Can I go to the bathroom?

The non-permanent teacher ignores him, as he has reached a state of temporary hell. He breathes in, breathes out, and soldiers on.

NON-PERMANENT TEACHER
Your last word is craving. Nandabala had an unsatisfied craving for -- I don't know, a steak -- but only had rice and milk ... craving.

In the distance, a horn sounds and the men noisily ready themselves to leave.

VARIOUS DISCIPLES
I can take you in conquering greed! ... I can take you in achieving enlightenment! ... Your face!

NON-PERMANENT TEACHER
(calling out to them as they leave)
Homework reminder! Due tomorrow! Your reflections on the sound of...

He holds the lesson plan at arm's length.

...one hand slapping.

He slumps sideways under the tree like a rag doll, revealing the book on which he had been sitting, "Nirvana for Dummies."

DISSOLVE TO WHITE