We once had Purell dispensers in our school--which actually dispensed Purell. They might date back to the swine-flu outbreak. I'm not sure. I'm doubting they were the single most impotant factor deterring an epidemic in our school, but, doubtless, Purell has some benefits, for health and psychology.
For years now, the dispensers have remained empty. Is it because of the expense? Is it because some argue antibacterial lotions have potentially negative side effects? (A Wikipedia article dispels this notion, but it reads like an advertisement! Wikipedia even notes this.) Is it because they may not be the panacea that some hope? Or, is it just due to inattention? Probably the latter.
Occasionally, I see a student stagger in the direction of a dispenser. I try to forewarn him about the coming disappointment. Still, the empty dispenser sits on the wall, teasing those who would trust it, perhaps, waiting to be resurrected when the next potential plague arises.
Perhaps these vestiges of the past are metaphors for education today. It holds out a promise. In the case of the dispenser, the promise is health. In the case of the Core, the promise is readiness for colleges (which may no longer be affordable) and careers (which may not pay a living wage). VAM holds out the broken promise of accountability based upon students' standardized-test scores. In all cases, the promises seem hollow. Is education becoming an empty Purell dispenser?