Tag Archives: teachers

Lawyerism, Libya and the Chicago Teacher’s Strike

Threads. The world is about making connections…or tearing them down.  Truth is relative. Is God truth? Could be, but we’d never know. We follow leaders, sacrifice our kin to flags and swell to war praying to god. If truth is that we might gain god’s favor in the curse of war, then either god is a lie or we are. The answer to that will lead a good heart to the ultimate morality behind war and violence.

Some individuals, likely opportunists and fools, and hardly reflective of so many good people in Libya swelled to violence reportedly over a video. Just as sickening as that response was the reply by Rightwingers in this country who, for political expediency were quick to make excuses for the film maker, or for the actions of this nation which have also contributed to the very long process that set the stage for the assault on the consulate in Ben Ghazi that resulted in the deaths of 4 Americans.

In this country it seems we have lost the capacity for at least pursuing truth, if never actually attaining or defining it. We are angles and excuses framed by lawyeristic bickering. If one side says up, the other must say down. There is no middle, only extremes, positions, argument.

We wonder over the fury and mindset of those who seem to parade regularly before cameras across the Muslim world shouting for and sometimes exacting retribution against the West. In part, in a small part inflated by cameras and western media for the sake of control is a cartoonish profile of Muslims. We see, by in large, a relatively small number, mostly under educated, or educated almost exclusively on the Koran.

There is a purpose to that. It is about control. narrow the amount of information people may see, or know about their larger world and others and they are easily whipped and swept to the whims of a controlling power.  God forbid the West and China, with their constructed monarchies and dictatorships faced true equitable global competition. Instead, feed poor Muslim populations on a militant Islam keeps them under enough control that, through their proxies, the Industrialized world and west may gorge itself on oil and other pilfered resources.

In this country we have FOX news, MSNBC, CNN, and the rest of the pandering media slowly narrowing the quality and accessibility to information. And that brings me around to the final point.

The Chicago Teacher’s Strike is a symptom of a system that has steadily degraded information in this country for the purpose of social, commercial and political control. Not Left or Right, Republican or Democratic. It is all of them, and it is us. Unions, and the strongest of the remaining unions in the public sector, are the prime targets. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker attempted to cleave the police and fire unions in lawyeristic double speak and then attack the more vulnerable teachers union. For a time it appeared that he had won in eliminating collective bargaining-the very definition of Union. Last week a Wisconsin judge overturned Walker’s effort, calling it unconstitutional.

There is power in Unions. Since the Second World War it has defined the standard of living in this nation, established the benchmark, and refocused the concept of the American Dream. There is power in holding that dream and having that standard of living.  The strike was not about money, but about an assault against the frontline teachers and their ability to teach.

The endgame is not for the love of the taxpayer. That is the FOX News mask, the sugar-coating on the bitter pill of an effort to restrict and narrow the amount and quality of information…if you agree that all news has a bias, and that it is liberal in bias, you’ve already succumbed to the message. You went there on your own two feet, just as they would prefer. Self, rather than imposed censorship has always been the ultimate and most effective….Control is the endgame, and that’s what ties it all together.

With Chris and Wiggler on the picket line in Chicago

I stopped by a grade school this morning in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago to ask the pocket of energized red-shirted teachers to listen and call in to my radio show this Saturday at 10am on WCPT am820. I’m doing an Occupy anniversary show, but promised to give the teachers as much time as I could.

I snapped a couple of shots, engaged in a bit of good-natured back and forth when a guy pushed through the group and asked pointedly, “Do you support the Teachers?”

“Damn right!” I replied. “I grew up in a union home, and was union myself for the better part of a decade. Yeah, I support.”

He came out and met me at the curb, looking like a hip teach from a WB drama, with a neatly trimmed beard and long wavy blond hair. He introduced himself as Chris. Another, slightly more conservative fellow joined us there, calling himself, Wiggler. Not sure where the name came from. Seemed unimportant to ask. Not sure I needed to know, exactly.

I’d been listening to talk show hosts on the very Rightwing station WLS impune and attack the teachers, as if they were some sort of street scum, or deadbeats that needed to be taken to task. For the WLS talking heads it was all about the money, and of course their ultimate angle is to deride and denigrate anything union.

“It isn’t about the money,” Chris said. “It’s about the evaluation process and making it fair.”

WLS and their comrades over on WMAQ did in fact mention the review process, while conveniently omitting key parts of that argument. According to Chris and Wiggler, it isn’t simply about a review process, but about realities in inner city schools, particularly in challenged neighborhoods that at the very least complicates any review process to the point of damaging the records of otherwise gifted and excellent educators.

“It’s really common in CPS,” said Wiggler, who’d taught in some of the city’s toughest schools in the Engelwood neighborhood.

Both men pointed out that gifted students often migrate away from classes to better schools under various programs. The children that remain are often those with learning disabilities, or from homes and neighborhoods burdened with significant challenges from stifling poverty to physical abuse, malnutrition, gang violence and substance abuse. Wiggler pointed out that he’d  seen these sorts of migrations  suck away up to 60% of the best students from a classroom.

But this shouldn’t really even be about evaluations either. Both men, with the others in boisterous agreement lamented the attrition of supplies, resources and programs from schools, classrooms and students. More and more teachers are forced to buy supplies and media necessary to teach children as budgets are cut and programs like arts education, music, P.E. and more are cut. Students are crowded into classrooms with fewer and fewer teachers. And here’s why.

The tactic is a cynical and very purposeful one, fought carefully and incrementally over decades by the Right, and by complicit dupes on the Left as well. Starve the system until it becomes non-functional or marginally functional and then point to the disfunction as the cause of the problem, with the obvious solution being chater schools, vouchers, breaking up the teacher’s union, all of which only accelerate the first part of the strategy.

Education use to be about helping a person to gain critical thinking skills that could be applied to life and building a better tomorrow for themselves and their community. The attack on teacher’s unions, charter schools, home schooling, vouchers and dishonest review programs instead are intended to maintain a lower class beholden and enslaved to a wealthy and powerful 1%, unburdened by critical thought and trained rather than educated. They will be the perfect consumers of sugary crap not at all healthy or enlivening to their souls or bodies. and if there is one singularly critical battle line between what the Right wants and the freedom this nation supposedly promises for all, it may well be this fight.

Overheard a rumor, that the Mayor’s office was infiltrating the teacher’s protest in order to gain intelligence…

Confirmed that Paul Ryan sides fully with Rahm over his handling of the teacher’s union. If that singular fact doesn’t mandate a single term and walk of shame for the Mayor out of office, nothing will.

Alert!!! The Chicago Teacher’s Union Crime wave

See if this sounds a bit familiar. This morning, as the first day of the Chicago Teacher’s Union Strike began, Police superintendent McCarthy announced he was canceling time off and pulling police officers off desk duty in anticipation of the coming crime wave brought on  by the strike. Yep, the police department is gearing up to protect the city folk of Chicago from the teenage and adolescent ne’er-do-wells unleashed by these thoughtless commie teachers who have the audacity to demand better working conditions and benefits. In good fashion, the strike by teachers in walking shoes and sandals, surely a dangerous lot, awakened the massive police state apparatus mandated with keeping us all safe from the perils and confusion of freedom. The horses were called out to maintain control over this horde, should their belligerent assertion of constitutionally protected rights provoke the police. and of course we all know what happens when that takes place, and a sudden assault by the police evokes terror. Why, terror by civilians is an assault against the police and the corporate power they protect-the ones that gives us jobs, and obesity, and cheap goods made by children in Indonesia, and diabetes inducing high fructose corn syrup, Bp oil, Goldman Sachs and Chase Bank. You know, the good guys.

Seems as if I’ve seen this before…when was…oh yeah, when citizens with a legitimate interest in petitioning the government over secretive NATO agreements regarding billions in cash, while people were suffering, jobless and poor in their member nations. Without being allowed to utter a single word, even if any news organization would have carried it, the message was crushed and buried in a virtual lockdown of the city. From the police to the news media Chicago was besieged by fear of vast unprecedented violence by Occupy and anti-war protesters.

So what is the teacher’s protest about? You’d better find out today or ask a teacher. The media right now is slow to react, but the reaction will soon be only too predictable. The police will manufacture a threat. The media will inflate it beyond proportion into a din of fear and hysterics. it has already started. “We’re preparing for the potential for violence and crime amid the teacher’s strike,” we can hear the chief say. “What violence, who’s committing crimes,” cries the media. “We just want to be prepared for that possible scenario,” says the top cop. “It’s the black and Mexican kids, those gang bangers. They’ll overrun the city won’t they. What should good god-fearing people do?’ the media will screech. “It’s all about safety, that’s all. Rem ain in your homes and only leave when necessary to forage for food, just don’t miss any must-see TV, and if you must go out, only travel in packs of as many white people as possible. Carry flashlights, whistles and energy bars,” says the wise old chief. “And guns. we need guns, and bullets and lots of them,” says the  watchdogs of the media, “remember, guns and the Second Amendment are all we have between us and the First amendment.

Perry, Poverty and Education: The numbers

 No opinion here. Let’s look at Perry’s numbers regarding poverty and education in Texas to see what a Perry Presidency might mean for America.

First, Perry used$3.25 billion in Federal education funds in a crooked sleight of hand to balance the Texas budget on the backs of taxpayers around the country. The funds were supposed to supplement Texas State education funds. Instead, Perry cut that same amount from the state budget, ignoring the federal guidelines regarding the supplemental funds. (source: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/texas-governor-a-winner-on-school-funds/)

Let’s take a look at the results, by the numbers for poverty:

According to the 2010 Federal Census the Texas population is 25,145,561. Only 10% are above the retirement age, 45.3% are White, 12% black and 37.6% Hispanic. The median household income is$48 thousand, $2000 below the national average. 17% of Texans live below the poverty level, as opposed to the national 14.3% average. 79% of Texans graduated high school against 84% nation wide.

More than 500,000 Texas families, more than 3 million people, live at or below the poverty line. 80% of those have at least one person employed. Poverty rates are highest among Hispanic and black populations, and child poverty is dramatically higher in Texas against the national average.

193 of Texas’ 235, or 82% counties are above the national average for poverty, the highest of any state in the Union. 

Cowboy politics has not served Texas well.

The education figures are far worse:

One in four Texas school children face significant hunger issues. 

Texas is 49th in the nation for Verbal SAT scores and 46th in basic math.

Texas is 40th in spending per pupil and 33 in teacher salaries.

Teachers in Texas average $41 thousand per year against the $48 thousand average nationally. (Source: The National Education Association)

As Rick Perry tours the country promoting an idea that the federal government is broke, he and his supporters might do well to fix their own house first.Easy to see now why he did not secede from the nation as he mused back in 2009. For one he would have missed out on billions in Federal aid to decorate his state budget to give the illusion of balance and fiscal responsibility. Had Texas seceded, by the numbers above, Texas would be just another Third World nation and Perry a loud-mouthed two-bit potentate.

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