In the you can't make this stuff up category, Connecticut's Governor Jody Rell has nominated World Wrestling Entertainment Inc.'s CEO Linda McMahon to the 11-member state Board of Education, which establishes academic standards and sets policy for Connecticut's 149 local and 17 regional school districts. The state legislators vote on this nomination on February 4th but will they get the full picture on the person they are voting for?
Other than promoting scripted violence as a spectator sport, fielding accusations of steroid, drug, and sexual abuse among past "Super Stars," McMahon's credentials include wife of WWE"s Chairman Vince McMahon, mother of two darling children, Shane and Stephanie, company nepotism at it's very best, all are executive officers and have extensive experience both inside and out of the ring promoting their brand of bawdy entertainment.
The official announcement reads; "Linda clearly understands the skills and education needed to succeed in business and the type of highly educated and skilled workforce that must be available to ensure that success." Governor Rell said, "I am confident that her leadership abilities, input and advocacy as a mother and grandmother will be key assets to the Board and its mission of ensuring quality education for all Connecticut children."
And continues, "Linda McMahon has also helped create literacy outreach programs, sits on the Board of Trustees for Sacred Heart University and is a member of several civic and community groups."
On the WWE Board of Directors is former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. a Director of World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. since 1999 and Chairman of the Compensation Committee. Mr. Weicker served as Governor of the State of Connecticut from 1991 to 1995. He served as a United States Senator representing the State of Connecticut from 1970 to 1988. Former Gov. Weicker lends authority and cachet to the board but one must wonder, what was his position regarding the wrestler deaths and drug use since 1999?
While most state board positions require superb communication and organizational skills, effective budgeting and working with boards, the press and the agency itself, the CT State Dept of Education usually would require someone who is passionate about, umm... education.
Advocating for children and the promotion of education by WWE is clearly evident looking at their website: "Through our school outreach program "Get R.E.A.L." (Respect, Education, Achievement, Leadership), WWE Superstars visit junior and senior high schools to speak to students on how to achieve success through these core values. WWE Superstars have presented programs and provided Get R.E.A.L. posters to teachers and students in more than 32 states and in Canada."
Continuing to scroll down; "In the U.S., teens in grades five through 12 are eligible to sign up for the program. Each teen will be asked to read a combination of 10 books and magazines. Students who turn in their completed reading logs will receive a WWE miniposter. Students can then enter a bookmark contest. Local libraries will then choose the best bookmark submitted from each age group. A panel of judges will choose 15 finalists, five from each grade category and different regions of the country. The 7th through 12th graders will go on to compete in the national finals in Houston, the host-city of WrestleMania XXV. Along with attending the finals of the challenge, WWE will also host the finalists at WrestleMania, held on April 5 at Houston's Reliant Stadium. The libraries sponsoring the finalists will each receive a $2,000 donation."
So a feel good tax deduction and a product promotion for WWE, this must be what Governor Rell meant by, "I am confident that her leadership abilities, input and advocacy as a mother and grandmother will be key assets to the Board and its mission of ensuring quality education for all Connecticut children."
The website continues to show their rigid criteria and interest for the children; "SmackDown's MVP, being named one of the national spokespersons for this year's challenge didn't come as a surprise. It was a natural selection. I'm better than everyone else. My intelligence is higher than everyone else's. My reading ability and reading comprehension is through the roof," said the former United States Champion. "Teens should read for the same reasons they should've 200 years ago. There's information in books that can broaden your horizons and stimulate your mind," he continued.
(WWE's RAW Diva) Layla, who has known people who were unable to read, mentioned the importance of getting teens to pick up a book and push themselves to the next level, "If you're going to be a mechanic, a wrestler, a singer or a dancer, you have to read first," the Raw Diva explained. "If you don't like a certain book, find something or someone you are interested in -- pick up a book about someone you love watching or a celebrity you admire."
I know I will be accused of being snarky but, are they for real? Self promoting "Superstars" making appearances in the name of education is just a sham slam to the children who look up to them as bigger than life heroes. That Mattel has a WWE merchandise tie-in should not be surprising and this reading promotion is nothing but a marketing tool of a fringe entertainment company and should not be confused with promoting reading and education. This is not how the Board of Education determines academic excellence and they are focused on students that are vulnerable to undue influences. Meanwhile, WWE recently announced a 10% reduction of their workforce, so although the skilled workforce is behind the scenes, the biggest skill evident is the shameless promotion of their tawdry brand. It would appear that Linda McMahon is reaching for another star, her reputation, and this nomination will lend her some validity that bouncing off the ropes won't give her.
Rell polls very high in likability, almost in the Sarah Palin before she joined John McCain digits, mainly because she is not Former Governor John Rowland. This nomination will probably get the nod from CT's State Legislative body and not even cause a blip with voters, after all, with the economy below depth sounding radar; this appointment will be long forgotten by the 2010 election. This issue is far too serious for a patronage fluff placement that brings credibility to McMahon and tarnishes Rell's moral authority if not using her political capital.