Down to Brass Tacks about the Tea Party (Society’s Slideshow)

There is some confusion in this country regarding what the Tea Party really stands for. This political party started as a grassroots effort that was largely ridiculed for their stance on political policy. However, it has gathered a head of steam and now is headed down the rails toward the 2012 Presidential candidacy.

Somehow this party got associated with the 1773 Boston Tea Party. This erroneous conclusion is one that is easy to draw. Members of the party claim that they are “Taxed Enough Already” despite the fact that many of its members are some of most affluent members of our nation.

The Boston Tea Party was a reaction to Great Britain’s attempt to conceal a three pence tax on tea from the colonists by appointing consignees to purchase tea from the East India Company and sell it in the colonies. The idea was to have the duty paid in London before the tea landed, or have the consignees quietly pay the tax once the tea sold. The tax was used to pay colonial officials, and the attempt to conceal the tax fooled no one. This caused dozens of colonists to dump an entire shipment of British tea into Boston Harbor in protest.

Based on the latest actions of our Tea Party, it has become obvious that they would like to dump the entire way of American life into Boston Harbor rather than pay their fair share of taxes.

Tea Party activists stubbornly refused to approve any debt-abatement plan that involved raising a single tax during our latest debt ceiling fiasco. Despite them lauding their version of compromise in an 11th hour agreement, Standard and Poor’s still downgraded the credit rating of the U.S.

Now, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Michele Bachmann, all Tea Party activists, have found their way into the GOP’s front runners for the 2012 Presidential candidacy. Their debates have involved such crass actions as applauding over death penalty rates and cheering at the suggestion that a person with a life-threatening illness be “left to die” since he has no health insurance. Bachmann has even suggested that America eliminate its minimum wage. Her belief is that “we could effectively eliminate unemployment completely because we could offer jobs at whatever level.”

Apparently, Bachmann has suffered the ill effects of our nation’s declining educational system. She has forgotten the lessons of the Progressive Era, during which time people frequently worked 12-14 hours per day for as little as $0.15 an hour. Perhaps today’s society would never drop to that level, but it is very easy to imagine how quickly average income in this nation would plummet while hours worked would skyrocket.

Tea party activists also seek to make debilitating cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, unemployment benefits, and educational budgets across the nation. Anything to not raise taxes, at least on the richest 1% of the country or any of the corporations (which Romney believes are “people”) who bankroll their campaigns.

Cutting these programs, which Tea party activists call “entitlement programs”, would reverse over 75 years of progress our country has made toward ensuring that every American can realize a decent standard of living. These programs were specifically designed to prevent seniors from living in destitution in their golden years, prevent unnecessary deaths by allowing underprivileged individuals to get health care, and provide those between jobs with a minimal way to provide for their families should they lose their jobs.

The Tea Party is effectively telling Americans:

We don’t care about old people, poor people, or even the middle class.

We would rather hang on to all of our money and turn all of our governmentally regulated programs over to private entities.

We want to make sure that if you lose your job, get old, or get sick, you will be on your own unless you are one of us, the elite few.

This type of thinking is asinine, greedy, and just plain wrong. Governments need money to function. They pay bills to function, and prices for governments go up just like prices for the average consumer. Taking away their ability to pay those bills will ensure its failure much like taking away a person’s job would ensure they go without food, water and shelter.

The very fact that voters are even considering these selfish individuals to represent the interest of the nation is even more shocking than the beliefs the Tea Party embodies. I would implore voters nationwide to not be fooled by the rhetoric of these so-called politicians. Their only plan for the United States of America is to turn it into the Corporate States of America.

If you enjoy the prospect of living in the great state of Wal-Mart or Dow Chemicalville paying through the nose for garbage pick-up, police service, or firefighting, then by all means vote for these radical extremists. I would prefer to vote against these people in the next election and thereby prevent such an occurrance.

The Same Old Education Song (Society’s Slideshow)

Legislators across the nation and here in Michigan all love to sing the same ‘ol education song. I’m sure you’ve heard the lyrics before.

It goes a little like this:

Let’s raise the standards for students while we take away the means for educators to meet them.

Let’s require that all students take the ACT and then moan when the students who are not serious about attending college do poorly on the test.

Let’s throw out collective bargaining agreements and require teachers to pay more for insurance, make less money and have the right to “Teach for Less.”

Any teacher will tell you that teaching for less does not sound like an appealing prospect.

Michigan Legislature is considering a bill that would forbid teachers from contributing to their union dues electronically. It would also severely limit their ability to collectively bargain for things like higher wages, better benefits, and better retirement plans.

This asinine idea must stem from brains are rotted from being too long out of school and spoiled from too many years of high-paying government jobs. This effectively tells Michigan teachers that they are not worth the salaries, benefits and retirement plans they demand. Whenever you tell an employee he’s not worth his salary, usually he will find a place where his talents are appreciated.

The result of such misguided legislation will be no different. It will serve to drive the best educators out of the state in search of school districts that are willing to pay top dollar for top talent. Once the top talent has migrated to other states, all that will be left are ineffective educators who will work as little as possible for the measly sum that they will be paid.

Of course, there will be some who will bust their tails for their respective districts. However, once they find out how little they are being paid in comparison to teachers in other states, they will follow their predecessors right across the state line never to return.

Out of all the ways one might think of to reform education, paying teachers less and requiring them to perform more should be dead last on the list. Cutting school budgets for things like technology and books should be just above this idea on the list.

Instead, politicians should be looking for a way to improve education through investing in it. Unfortunately for big business, that may mean requiring all of them to pay taxes here, and re-evaluating individual property tax structure. It could also mean raising the individual income tax rate by one percent across the board, which would more than pay for our current deficit and leave us with a healthy reserve.

The politicians we have in office need to wake up and smell the slate board. The reason many schools are lagging in adding a technological aspect to the curriculum is that they simply do not have enough money to put enough computers in every classroom for every student.

The reason that many schools are lacking in meeting expected AYP measurements is because they can’t afford to replace horribly outdated and equally worse for wear textbooks. The reason ACT scores have dropped across the state is because for some students, college is not the best option.

However, our legislature chooses to ignore these facts, and instead chooses to point fingers at the teachers. Surely it’s the teachers’ fault that certain parents could care less about their students’ education. Surely, it’s the teachers’ fault that one in every four children is living in poverty and can’t afford basic school supplies. Surely it’s the teachers’ fault that every time money is needed for anything in this state, the education budget gets thrown right under the bus.

In order to attract businesses with job opportunities to this state, we need qualified people to fill them. In order to get our economy going, we need people with jobs to spend money so businesses will need to hire more people.

Most of all, we need our legislature to quit targeting teachers for blame and sanctions every time a situation even remotely tied to the education system affects its overall outcome.

Write your local legislator and tell them to stop targeting teachers and start investing in the future of our state. Or better yet, just vote them out of office.

Right to Work=Right to Jerk Employees Around (Society’s Slideshow)

Michigan politicians are currently batting around an idea to bring jobs to our state. This idea involves creating right to work legislation in Michigan, which will only serve to undermine collective bargaining, break unions, and do absolutely nothing to bring us the jobs we so desperately need for the 11% of the population who is officially unemployed.

In order to understand the dynamics of right to work legislation, one must understand what right to work means. It does not refer to one’s right to seek employment on the open market. Everyone in this country has that right.

Right to work refers to legislation that states people who are represented by a union do not have to pay union dues except on a voluntary basis. This is somewhat akin to a city government deciding to make paying taxes optional. The likely outcome is that more people will opt out than pay the piper.

Unions require a decent amount of manpower to reach collective agreements. Union dues help ameliorate the cost of this business, vis-a-vis paying lawyers to execute the contracts and compensating people for their time spent in negotiations.

If unions are no longer allowed to collect dues, there will be a glut of freeloaders who will take advantage of the union’s representation. The union cannot exclude people from a collective bargaining agreement because they don’t contribute union dues. Therefore, the incentive to pay the dues is nearly non-existent.

Without these dues, collective bargaining efforts may wind up lacking the substance necessary to protect the wages, benefits, and retirement plans of the collective. This will inexorably lead to the demise of the union. No one wants to be represented by an entity that repeatedly fails to deliver on promises made.

Once the union is broken, employers will be left with little incentive to follow due process for releasing employees, increase employee wages, maintain current health benefits, or provide a retirement plan. It has been proven that union employees typically earn 10 to 40 percent more than their non-union employees in the same business. They also tend to have better health benefits and retirement plans as negotiated by their unions.

Removing the collective bargaining tools used for so many decades has no proven effect on job growth. A business owner in a unionized industry may be more inclined to set up shop in a place where they don’t have to negotiate with a union. However, this very same employer will only be regulated by at will employment laws. This means that they can fire anyone for any reason, or no reason, that is not proscribed by federal law.

Last time I checked, the ability to fire anyone for any reason or no reason does not contribute to job growth. It does contribute to employee fear or retribution in the form of a pink slip for speaking up about poor or unsafe working conditions or the fact that they haven’t had a raise in five years.

Right to work legislation will not bring any new jobs to Michigan. Instead, it  ensures that workers will be deprived of due process in termination proceedings and allow corporations to lower wages, reduce or remove benefits, and undermine a worker’s ability to save for retirement. It will also serve to prevent effective collective bargaining between employers and unions which will lead to the ultimate demise of unions that we read about in our history textbooks.

Be sure to write your Michigan Senator and Representative and tell them they are dead wrong about the potential positive outcomes contained in right to work legislation.

 

Fast Suit Nation (Society’s Slideshow)

From time to time, something utterly ridiculous comes to light that needs to be shared with the general populace. The Ig Noble Awards independently celebrate such ludicrous achievements as measuring the amount of methane a cow produces to calculate the potential effect dairy farms have on the world atmosphere quality. (Never mind all the cars out there, now.)

However, I believe that in the grand scheme of things, this particular story takes the cake.

According to a myfoxny.com report, a 290-pound man is suing White Castle for failing to increase the size of its booths to accommodate people of a larger size.

Really?

This story illustrates a general trend that our American society has been taking in the past decade or so. Rather than claim responsibility for your own actions, decisions, mistakes, etc., why not sue someone instead?

I will concede that fast food chains have taken command of our food supply and tailored it to fit their needs. Prior to fast food chains, there were very few hormones used in chicken and beef. Frozen dinners and flash frozen food was the exception rather than the rule.

However, no one forces anyone to eat this stuff. People are by and large responsible for their own choices and behavior. No one tells you to eat your peas or go to bed on time after you move out of mom and dad’s house.

This fact of life has been subverted to say that since no one is telling me I shouldn’t do it, it’s not my fault if negative consequences result from poor choices. This belief has led America to become one of the most litigious nations in the world.

Spilled some coffee on yourself? Don’t worry, it’s not your fault you got burned because you were clumsy. It was McDonald’s fault for serving you coffee that was too hot. (Doesn’t everyone enjoy a lukewarm cup of joe in the morning?)

Slipped on the floor that you just saw the guy mop? It’s not your fault that you didn’t walk around it. It’s the business’ fault for not warning you the floor was wet.

The list of outright ludicrousness could go on for miles. The bottom line is that somewhere along the line, we traded our sense of responsibility for a lawyer in a thousand dollar suit.

Lack of responsibility has even found its way into the upper echelons of government. What, the country’s almost hit its borrowing cap? I know! Let’s find six people to pin the decision-making process on. If it fails, no one else can be blamed but these people. Certainly a win-win for everyone except the six who skirted responsibility.

Responsibility is something we wer taught by our parents and our teachers. It is something that we were forced to endure every day as we grew to adults. Why is it that we forget these lessons when a stroke of poor luck or a lack of good judgment befalls us?

We as Americans must take responsibility for our own actions if our country is to have any kind of future. We must decide to face the music if we make a mistake that costs us more than we would like it to or suffer from a lapse of judgment for several years which results in less than desirable consequences.

Finger-pointing and shirking responsibility creates a vicious circle in which an entire society can get caught. The only place that it will take us is straight down the drain, and then there will be no one to blame except ourselves.

 

To Tax or not to Tax? A question for the Michigan Supreme Court (Society’s Slideshow)

Wednesday, September 7 marked the day that the Michigan Supreme Court hears arguments about Governor Rick Snyder’s law that makes it possible for the state to tax retiree pensions. The AARP a and other groups representing retirees raised concerns regarding the law’s consitutionality when the law was first passed.

The Michigan Constitution states that public pensions cannot be “diminished or impaired.” Previous to this law, they  considered a contractual obligation by both public and private sectors exempt from taxes. This measure is the cornerstone of Snyder’s attempt to bankroll a $1.7 billion tax cut for businesses in the form of eliminating the Michigan Business Tax.

The constitutionality of the law is further called into question because it exempts certain income levels from paying the tax, and requires others to only pay on a portion of their total pension income. Still others have to pay different rates based on the year they were born. The Michigan Constitution specifically bans taxes that are “graduated as to rate or base.”

Snyder is performing a combination of an end run followed by a hail mary by taking this issue directly to the Michigan Supreme Court. The end run is accomplished by preventing senior citizen advocacy groups from bringing suit against the State of Michigan. The hail mary is accomplished by throwing the law at the Michigan Supreme Court and seeing whether he achieves his goal of taxing people until they die.

The very fact that Snyder is asking the Supreme Court to rule on this issue before a lawsuit can be filed indicates that he believes that he might lose in a fair fight. The last thing that Snyder wants is for retiree groups to get their lawyers together to draft a complaint that makes sense to the justices.

Instead, he has chosen the pathway of the preemptive strike. Don’t let them see what’s coming before it’s already there.

Eliminating taxes for businesses in Michigan will do nothing to cure the economy in Michigan. It will not increase consumer confidence and get them out spending again. Therefore, businesses will have no reason to take on more employees. The money saved from not paying taxes will wind up in the pockets of entrepreneurs across the state.

This entire charade may wind up being a huge publicity stunt. If Snyder gets the verdict he wants, he will trumpet his foresight and ingenuity. If he doesn’t he will bemoan that the decision does not meet his definition of “shared sacrifice.” I’m sure that will lead to other “austerity measures” in trying to balance the state budget and attract more jobs to this state.

A more effective approach at the outset would have been to impose a single flat tax for all businesses. No loopholes, no special considerations. Businesses must pay their taxes, end of story.

A simple 1% increase in the state income tax would have been enough to eliminate the deficit and create a budget surplus. However, instead of “raising taxes,” Governor Snyder seems to truly believe he is “not raising taxes” by creating new ones and eliminating the Earned Income Credit which mostly benefits poor people by lowering their taxes.

It has become clear that Snyder and his contemporaries are on a mission to make sure that the only people contributing to “shared sacrifice” will be the people who can least afford it. Whatever the effect of his grand scheme to bring jobs to Michigan, you can believe it will be spun to make him look the saint when he is actually the sinner.

Improving Michigan Schools? New Michigan Legislation is Introduced…(Society’s Slideshow)

 A seven-bill education package was introduced to the Michigan legislature as a way for parents to leverage more power in the school district. Parents should have a say in the education of their children. They are the ones who pay the taxes that make public schools possible. What ever happened to the PTA?

However, rather than make rules allowing parents greater access to and control over the school board or creating community think tanks composed of parents in various school districts, the bill takes a completely different path.

If approved, this bill will lift the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in Michigan and lifts the cap on the number of cyber charter schools that can open and the number of students they can enroll.

It will also allow parents to convert a private school to a charter school, allow private school and home-schooled students to receive services from their home districts, and require districts to enroll students who opt for schools of choice from other districts up to maximum capacity, among other things.

The Detroit Free Press noted  on September 8 that Jim Groener, president of the National Charter School Institute, stated “that the more competition there is in education, the better the results will be” according to the writer’s words.

I guess I must have missed something during my years of teacher education. I don’t remember a single class on educational competition or methods schools use to lure students away from their home districts.

We were certainly taught that private schools, home schooling, and charter schools all draw students for varying reasons. We were taught that private schools and charter schools generally were non-union and therefore devoid of collective bargaining rights.

We were also taught that all schools have an educational mission t the level best they can be. We were never taught that schools were in bloodthirsty competition with each other.

Yet here we are, trying to pit private, home-schooled, and charter schools against the public schools. Not only that, but we are also trying to pit public schools against their own districts, and against each other.

There is no evidence that suggests that charter schools perform any better than their public school counterparts. However, this bill would allow parents to convert any public school they desired to a charter, provided that 51% of parents and/or teachers agree. This will devastate certain school districts, as it will remove an entire school’s worth of cash flow from that district’s budget.

Now is the time to whip out the calculator and multiply the number of students in a given school by the amount of cash that school receives per pupil. Using Detroit schools as an example, $7,500 per pupil times we’ll say 1,000 students in a high school will equal $75,000 the district loses in funding. It’s not going to take very long for poorer districts like Detroit to bleed out enough cash to go bankrupt.

If this bill passes, you might be sending your children to Wal-Mart Charter Schools or Dow Chemical Learning Institute before too long. I think that it’s safe to say that if that happens, you can count on a different type of curriculum all together.

Instead of learning about how Theodore Roosevelt went to bat for the little guy during the Progressive Era, they might learn the Roosevelt flew in the face of laissez-faire economics by creating costly governmental regulatory commissions like the FDA and the USDA.

Instead of learning that Franklin Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps to create jobs and revive America’s Depression-era economy, they might learn that FDR implemented socialist practices by allowing the government to control what was once controlled by the private sector. They might also learn he created several unsustainable entitlement programs that cost the government billions like Social Security and unemployment benefits.

Parents should go about affecting change in school districts the way it used to be done before American Idol and the Real Housewives of (insert city or state here) came about by involving themselves in Parent Teacher Associations and Parent Teacher Organizations. In districts where they don’t exist, they should be started.

Parents used to be much more actively involved in their students’ education. As a rule, some are more that others. It is not possible for every parent to be as involved as the next, but the argument here is that parent participation in the past was much greater than today’s involvement.

Many parents went to school board meetings. They went to conferences to see how their student was doing, and in some cases how that student might do better. They volunteered at schools, and were genuinely concerned with their students’ futures.

Certainly, parents today are concerned with their students’ future. Otherwise, the  Michigan legislature would not go to such lengths to make sure they get more control.

However, it is patently pathetic that parents need the Michigan legislature to do their jobs for them. Rather than voting for a new school board, calling a teacher with a concern, helping their students with homework, or otherwise actively involving themselves in education, they will now depend on legal leverage to force privatization of public schools.

All the laws our legislature can send down the pike will not replace active parent involvement in the schools. If any only if satisfactory responses cannot be gleaned from the schools and their respective school boards should the action be taken any further.

Parents who are truly concerned with education should write their representatives and urge them not to take Michigan down the pathway to privatization. Otherwise, our students may one day be learning that once upon a time, you could go to school for free.

Putting America Back to Work (Society’s Slideshow)

The current economic crisis has continued on much longer than Barack Obama or any of his contemporaries would like to have seen. The mortgage bubble burst before he was even inaugurated, yet the country was eager to turn to him for answers. His answer was it wasn’t his show yet. When it became his show, he set out to make changes.

Through nearly four years, Obama and our current legislature has grappled with some of the toughest economic times our nation has seen. It has ranged from a nearly bankrupt GM and Chrysler to the current crisis of a 9.1% national average for unemployment and 10.9% unemployment rate for Michigan.

Now that Congress has finished their summer recess, they know that an election is right around the corner. The hottest issue on people’s minds is fixing our broken economy by getting people back to work, which are inextricably linked.

Employers won’t hire new people unless they are making enough money to cover their salary, which requires people to go out and spend money. However, it is very tough to make any but the most necessary purchases when you are on the unemployment rolls, or worse, stuck with no job and unemployment that has run out.

The current approach by Republicans reads a lot like Herbert Hoover’s approach at the beginning of the Great Depression. Hoover, another Republican, coasted into office after two previous Republican presidents who had served during the Roaring Twenties.

At first, Hoover did nothing, believing that government interference would undermine individualism. He believed in volunteerism, thinking that people would simply do the right thing by sustaining current employment rolls and doling out cash to people in need. He did not favor public assistance, believing that it would create an addiction to the system that would take away the will of people to work.

When that didn’t work, he sent all the Mexicans he could manage back to Mexico via the Mexican Repatriation Act. The economy of the nation and the world spiraled out of control, and Hoover finally decided that a whole pile of money and a single public works project would do the trick.

Hoover started work on the Boulder Dam, which would be renamed Hoover Dam after its completion. He also started the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. This entity took $2 billion and gave it in the form of state aid and loans to banks, businesses, and mortgage associations. The idea was that they would take they money and give out more loans, hire more people, and assist people in paying for their houses.

The Reconstruction Finance Corporation was an abysmal failure because banks, businesses, and mortgage associations pocketed the money, paid it back eventually, and did nothing to help the economy in terms of creating new jobs, new loans, and saving people’s homes.

Today, a similar idea is touted as the answer to our economic woes. Give corporations and other businesses tax breaks, and they will use that extra cash to hire more people. Give banks a giant pile of money (say $600 billion) with no terms delineating a repayment schedule or what should be done with the money. Then, sit back, relax, and expect that they’ll do the “right thing” by loaning more money to struggling businesses and helping people in trouble with their mortgages.

If it didn’t work during the Great Depression, why would politicians expect it to work today?

The only thing that will get this economy going is putting people back to work. Franklin Roosevelt knew it in 1932 when he became President of the United States. That’s why he created the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and a few other alphabet soup groups.

Roosevelt knew then what politicians should know now. Putting money in the hands of regular people means that they will go out and spend it on needs, then wants. Eventually, the money will find its way into the hands of business owners, banks, and mortgage associations. It was termed “pump priming” and it worked.

I propose that a similar solution could work today, sort of a WPA reboot. My version reads like this:

  • Bring all of our troops home.
  • Use the money we would normally be spending in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya over here for “nation building.”
  • Allow the military to bid for open contracts paid out of this money against private contractors. Military personnel not used for nation building as a member of the military should have no problem getting a job with one of the civilian contractors.
  • Rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and start other public works projects after 90% of roads, bridges, and sewers are fixed.

America can no longer afford to bankroll tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy on the backs of average citizens. The less money 99% of the population has, the worse the economy will get.

Write your State Representatives, Senators, and even the President and tell them you’ve had enough of bankrolling corporate tax breaks. Tell them the only way to build our economy is from the bottom up, not from the top down.

 

 

 

A $1.5 million gamble: Michigan’s Education Crisis (Society’s Slideshow)

Michigan’s financial crisis has forced the state to take some radical austerity measures to cut costs. Teachers are being forced to pay 20% of their health care costs, as well as take pay cuts in some districts. However, the cost of administration remains somewhat under-reported and therefore unchecked.

John Covington has been brought to the Detroit area to be chancellor of some of Detroit’s poorest performing schools. As the district continues to struggle in the wake of Robert Bobb’s failed attempt to manage the finances of the school district, Covington is being awarded a contract that will total $1.5 million in compensation.

The message here is strikingly similar to the corporate agenda. The more money we offer the top brass, the more likely it is that the shiniest brass will come our way. Surely the workers will understand that this is necessary for the company’s future.

But Detroit Public Schools would seem hardly the place where the workers would “surely understand.” In 2009, they were forced to defer $250 per paycheck into a personal fund that would pay up to $10,000 when they left the school district in order to avoid a permanent 10% pay cut. Just recently, the newest (non-elected) emergency financial manager flew in the face of union contracts and cut their pay 10% anyway.

District superintendents will often receive a six-figure salary and a car allowance as compensation for ensuring the best possible future for our children. However, Covington’s compensation takes the cake.

He will receive a $175,000 signing bonus, and $225,000 his first year. The second year, he gets $325,000, and if he meets as yet undetermined goals, he will get $425,000 his remaining two years. He will also get $800 per month for car expenses which will total $38,400 by the end of his contract.

For the same price as Covington’s exorbitant salary, you could get roughly 42 full time educators for a single school year being paid $35,000 per year. His car allowance alone could pay for another.

After all, it is the teachers who must implement the best practices as imagined by the superintendent. They are the ones keeping the class sizes down, presenting the curriculum, talking to parents (at least to the ones willing to forego the American Idol finals to go to conferences), and working tirelessly to ensure AYP is met.

However, every time money is needed for anything in a school district, the first thing that is investigated is teacher salary and compensation. The question becomes “What can we get the teachers to give up?” rather than “What will the superintendent or administration give up?” Layoffs usually follow, class sizes increase, teacher pay decreases, and instruction usually suffers.

It is time for the Rick Snyder and the rest of our legislators to realize who the greatest difference makers are. Pay and benefits for school administration has risen way out of line with comparable private sector jobs. A district manager for a fast food chain still might only expect a five-figure salary.

Yet, time and time again it is the teachers who suffer the consequences of the lack of regulation for school administrative salaries. It seems that Detroit schools, among others, are more willing to tell their teachers they matter less than paying for the cars or the health care of the top brass.

It may ring true that in order to attract the best talent, you have to offer the best money. However, Snyder, our legislators, and Detroit Public Schools have a genuinely misguided sense of where to spend money to attract the best talent.

 

Shame on Koch Brothers: The Educational Crisis (Society’s Slideshow)

   It is no secret that public education in this country is at an  abysmal low. Politicians continue to slash budgets nationwide as our  economy continues to spiral downward toward what some economists think will be the next Great Depression.

It would seem that the mission to completely destroy the public school system is quickly accelerating. Not only is it accelerating, it is sinking to  a new low to further an extreme right-wing agenda.

The Koch brothers, billionaire oil magnates, have bankrolled several public school candidates’ campaigns which ran on platforms supporting “neighborhood schools” in North Carolina. This may sound all well and good, but in reality “neighborhood schools” is code for resegregating school districts.

If this creates question marks in your head, allow me some explanation. Prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it was legal to have “seperate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites as decided by Plessy v. Ferguson. Therefore, schools were separated based on skin color.

Since people generally wanted to live somewhere near their school, entire neighborhoods sprang up around these segregated schools. As time went on, neighborhoods themselves began to become more and more segregated. Sometimes, entire school districts for one race or the other were created to handle the volume of students in the respective systems.

Once segregation was legally ended, people still lived in the same areas they did prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Therefore, a policy known as busing was instituted, where black students were bused to white schools or school districts and vice versa.

This was not without some controversy, especially in states formerly part of the Confederacy. There were many people, including a now-famous former governor of Alabama by the name of George Wallace, who were against busing and desegregating schools.

Today, the Koch brothers are attempting to reinstitute this policy of segregation under they guise of saving money by forcing students to return to schools in their neighborhoods, hence “neighborhood schools.” The neighborhoods of course still have relatively the same demographics they did in 1964.

The Koch brothers are seeking to undo what was done in 1964 to further an agenda of breaking the public school system. Also, the supposedly responsible adults who were elected to school board positions via their generous donations largely ignored the requests of the students to stay in their respective schools in order to maintain teacher-student and other interpersonal relationships. They were merely told to be quiet and follow directions, even if it meant going to a school where they would not receive a comparable education.

It is rather typical thinking of supposedly responsible adults to completely ignore the wishes of children to get exactly what they want. Narry a thought is given to the welfare of those who will one day be doctors, lawyers, business executives, or (shudder to think) leaders of the free world. Instead, they seek to further their own agenda and toe the party line.

It is time for these so-called responsible adults to wake up and smell the future. Ignoring the wishes of those who are legally required to attend school to further an extremist agenda will do nothing to improve the future of this nation.

Whether or not we like it, these people will grow up and turn into people who the nation will have to depend on. I would much rather grow old in a nation run by competent individuals who were given an equal chance to succeed than in one where ignorance is bliss and the wealthiest individuals run the country.

If our nation continues down the pathway to extremism, that is exactly what we are going to get. Public schools were instituted to ensure that every person, not just the wealthy, has access to a good education. It’s just a shame that they wealthy believe that only they are entitled to that good education.

To see where the inspiration and information for this piece comes from, link to this blog:

http://blog.pfaw.org/content/koch-brothers-sink-new-low-undermine-public-education

 

Welcome to the Show! (An Intro to Dave’s Column called Society’s Slideshow)

Welcome to the Show!

Society’s Slideshow, that is. A mental photograph of the
world converted into the proverbial thousand words. Well, maybe I won’t use
that many.

A slideshow, whether on a computer or a projector, delivers
to its audience a representation of the world as it was seen by the presenter.
No one takes photographs of every second of their vacation. Instead what one
sees is sort of a still life highlight reel.

This highlight reel is subject to the interpretation of its
audience. What they see is what they choose to see. Perhaps they’ll notice the
guy falling of the dock in the background of that photograph of Dad holding up
a fish as big as he is.

Chances are people who fit into the category of “Wow look at
that fish!” most likely outnumber those who say “Did you see that guy falling
off the dock in the background?” That’s just the idea. Sometimes, a larger projected
version of a smaller picture can yield before unseen detail.

This slideshow will highlight things, events, people, and
places projected to a larger version that highlights the detail I notice. Think
of it as a sort of still life highlight reel.

Topics will range from local and national politics to
current events to the local and national music scene. One certainty is that
this slideshow will be somewhat different from the rest.

This slideshow filters through my eyes and out the ends of
my fingers to bring forth the parts of the big picture I notice besides the
biggest piece.  I definitely saw the guy
falling into the lake headfirst with his fishing pole in one hand and his
tackle box in the other. The guy probably tripped looking at the fish and
wondering why it is he can’t catch one that size.

These are the things I think about when I see unusual or
noteworthy things. My views are independent and uninfluenced by political
association or corporate agenda. It may not be pretty, but it’s the truth. If I
wanted to lie for a living, I’d be sitting in Congress. Hey-o!

All jokes aside, Society’s Slideshow will be a highlight
reel of things I find unusual or noteworthy, interesting or exciting, and most
of all worthy of praise or criticism. I hope you enjoy the show!