Anglic Union

“Someone likely to pass Appointments?” Glorious Day asked.

“Yes. Even someone with strong credentials and a record of performance,” Elektra answered. “Now, no more leading questions. Please do tell me what progress is happening, but I am already too busy with my normal responsibilities. Also, very soon, I have a deputation from the Other House.”

Michael and Glorious Day went on their way.


All too soon, Elektra heard the ring of her secretary’s bell. Her staff worked lower down in the tower, but around the corner Gertrude Kim had a beautiful carved-wood U-shaped desk, enough to intimidate all but the most important visitors. The Other House had indicated that it would exercise its privilege of sending her a deputation, meaning one person from each of its significant political parties. Indeed, she thought, here they were, all men and women she perfectly well knew but under Senate rules rarely spoke to. Her committees could do that, but she by custom did not.

“Gentlepeople,” she said as Gertrude poured tea for them and set out refreshments, “I gather that there is a major issue, one involving education.”

“Indeed,” Speaker of the House Joshua Adams said, “there is the matter of the National Technical College, and serious complaints that have been raised about irregularities in its administration. For example, I have had call to my attention two major departments in which hires were made by the new department head, as approved under the new rules, where the appointees were not only from the same province but from the same county. There was considerable evidence presented to me that these persons were viewed by the students, not without good reason, as being unusually incompetent even for recent hires. This is been going on for some years, so recalling that staff members are under five-year contracts not always renewed, in these departments a substantial fraction of the faculty have dubious credentials.

“In addition, each of us has been in contact with industrial firms that have traditionally hired engineers and the occasional scientist from NTC or one of the other federal colleges. There are been emphatic complaints that the quality of graduates has grossly deteriorated. This is not my zone of expertise, but I gather that when an electrical engineer is asked to find the poles and zeros of an operational amplifier, and not only does not know how to do this, but does not know what a pole is, that there is some indication that matters have gone astray. I could go on at some length, mostly using words that I do not understand. We have assembled a considerable number of documents indicating specific deficiencies. My good friend Martina Gooddale, who has very extensive engineering training, going back before the Interregnum even, could expand on these if you needed.”

Elektra nodded at the National Front delegate, Gooddale being a woman of formidable reputation, even if you did not believe that during the Interregnum, in the process of protecting one major library, she had killed a series of assailants with her bare hands. Martina claimed that she’d been carrying a pistol.

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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