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This site supports teachers and their unions

Lord knows I have had my issues with teachers.  They can be pedantic, rigid, overly sensitive, autocratic and, occasionally, disrespectful to parents.  I assume this has something to do with having to spend all their day with developing human beings who need a firm hand and that they sometimes don’t know when to stop.


I could never do what they do.  I don’t have the patience or organizational skills.  I don’t have the passion or mysterious magical ingredient that would make me want to spend all of my working day in a classroom herding cats.

So, when I read about what Philadelphia is planning for negotiations with their teachers’ union, my blood boiled.

These are working people who earn a living.  Taking a 13% cut in pay is not an option.  In fact, reducing the power and wages of the teachers’ unions comes back to bite all of us in the ass.  We shouldn’t be pointing our fingers at them asking why their lives and wages are secure.  We should be asking ourselves how we can get what they have.  Not only that but the school systems of our nation should not be just another source for exploitative profit mining* for the well-connected.

It doesn’t serve American ingenuity or our future to have everyone stressed out to the max about where their next meal is coming from or how we’re going to pay hospital bills without go ing deeply into debt.  And when we start inflicting that kind of stress on our teachers, it’s going to affect performance in the classroom.  They’re human beings, not saints.

Honestly, I don’t know what’s up with Philadelphia’s finances.  Maybe this is all just a giant scare tactic to illustrate what’s going to happen if we fail to fund our governments and go through with sequesters.  But I’ve driven through parts of North Philadelphia and am shocked by the condition of the place.  Houses are falling apart and trash is strewn everywhere.  People LIVE there and it’s like a third world country.  Do we want to add to that destitution by depriving people of their ability to free their minds?  It’s disgraceful.  What’s next?  School fees like the kind they have in Africa where families have to decide which kid gets an education?

So, count me among the supporters of Philly’s teachers and teachers everywhere.

*Exploitative Profit Mining- the practice of seeking new profit streams from the exploitation of unprotected working people either through non-transparent financial transactions or privatization of public services.  Add it to your lexicon.


15 Responses

  1. We shouldn’t be pointing our fingers at them asking why their lives and wages are secure. We should be asking ourselves how we can get what they have
    Exactly, that’s always my answer when the “whip kissers” bash union workers.
    From what I hear, Nutter was a prototype for Obama-speak like a populist champion, govern like a corporate toady.

  2. We have that union sneering thing around here – probably everywhere. The sentiments are pretty consistent, “I don’t have great pay and benefits, so nobody should!” rather than “Where can I get that?”.

    It is weird and I have begun to wonder if it is AstroTurf rather than people actually think that everyone else should have less to make life fair to them.

    Teachers are a special one – I don’t know if anyone thinks they are paid too much but people sure get all emotional that the teachers don’t want to work for (nearly) free. What about the children? Personally, I think it is a “mommy” extension, where they expect all things having to do with child rearing to be done selflessly and without recognition or pay – by women.

    That… and can we get our grubby for-profit hands into this system? Do people really think the government wastes so much money that the schools could be run by a company for less money and still yield a profit? Why yes, they really do believe that.

    I guess nobody has figured out that UPS and FedEx don’t deliver letters for <$.50, but gosh! Let's kill the USPS so we can all pay $5.00!

    • It’s the John Wayne cowboy mindset. The widder Jenkins lost everything to them pesky redskins so the town folk made her school marm so she could stay on her ranch.

  3. And the magic word is “Hypocrisy”.

    The Conservative talk show hosts you hear on your local AM Bilge Pump, or the blo-dried pundits you see on Fox spewing their vile anti-union rhetoric, do they go into their contract negotiations without an agent?

    What about those demented loons running for congress as republicans, don’t they hire consultants and spokes people?

    Yet for some reason they want to deny Americans who make this country work the same protections?

    Stop by your local Chamber of Commerce office, tell them you want the benefits of membership but you don’t want to pat dues, see what they say.

  4. Abraham Lincoln met up with an early prototype of this circa 1860. People were hysterical that some workers were striking. Lincoln’s response, “Thank God they can strike.” The alternative, of course, was slavery.

    Lincoln vs. Rush Limbaugh or Michael Nutter? I’m with Abe on this one. As Harry Truman noted, Lincoln’s most always right. (btw, Scalia picked a Lincoln policy as outdated that established funding for a state agricultural and technical college in each state.In many states the many went to founding a new school (e.g. Michigan State). In others it went to existing schools (Rutgers, Cornell). The agricultural extension services were founded through this. Not out-dated you twerp. (One newspaper account called the Morrill Act, “the Morale Act.” Yes we need better schools.

    We also need to realize that politicians who call forth greed and fear are not our friends but the friends of the rich and the corporate. Politicians who call forth the better angels of our nature (Lincoln, again) are better leaders who produce better results.

    This was true in the 1890s when racism was used to snuff out populism. It was true in the 1980s when fear of the Russians was used to screw the economy long term. It was true in the last decade when the fear was global terrorism and Arabs.

    Unions have been largely snuffed out in the private sector. Last I checked about 7% of private sector employees are unionized. In the public sector when Obama took over the percentage was 36%. At its peak, unions represented 35% of workers overall.

    Obama specifically campaigned against the teacher’s unions in Iowa when running for the democratic nomination. Some of them had the nerve to endorse Hillary so they had to be crushed. One of his biggest supporters was the SEIU which contributed over $30 million. Yup, the janitors. It was race politics run riot with class envy thrown in.

    The highest paid state employee? In just about every case it would be the head football coach at a state school. The head coach at Penn State makes $2,300,000 per year. Seventy eight college football head coaches make $1 million or more a year. At least 33 college basketball coaches also make $1 milion or more a year.

    • Progressives have always had enemies in high places

      In March 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9835, creating the “Federal Employees Loyalty Program” establishing political-loyalty review boards who determined the “Americanism” of Federal Government employees, and recommended termination of those suspected of being “Un-American”. It also was the template for several state legislature’s loyalty acts, such as California’s Levering Oath Law, nd paved the way for McCarthyism.

      The two parties campaign of Red-Baiting is exemplified in this piece by Eleanor Roosevelt:

      The dowager Democrat First Lady came out against the man who was almost the President instead of Truman. The man who might have avoided the Cold War: the progressive third party candidate Henry Wallace:

      Plain Talk About Wallace

      Democratic Digest 25 (Apr. 1948): 2


      I read with great care Henry A. Wallace’s speech in Chicago Monday. Affirmatively, he stands for “a positive peace program of abundance and security, not scarcity and war. We can prevent depression and war if we only organize for peace in the same comprehensive way we organize for war.”

      There is no country in the world where the people would not agree they wished to organize for peace and abundance and security. But in this speech Mr. Wallace oversimplified the problems that face us today. . . .

      To begin with, let us take the political situation which a third party faces. No one in this country wants a third party as much as the Communists do. All over the world they are working for confusion because that is the way to create economic chaos and political weakness, and this is their one hope of defeating democracy in the world and proving that communism is the only thing people can turn to.

      The American Communists will be the nucleus of Mr. Wallace’s third party. I know all the old arguments in favor of working with people who want the same objectives as you do. But I have worked rather more steaily and closely with the representatives of the USSR than has Mr. Wallace. I like all those I know and I hope that we can get on with them in a peaceful world, but I know that our only approach is an economic approach . . . they understand strength, not weakness. . . .

      When Mr. Wallace assumes that by changing certain of our policies until we resemble Mr. Chamberlain, hat in hand, approaching Hitler, we will have the results which he calls “peace and abundance,” I am afraid he is doing more wishful thinking than realistic facing of facts.


  5. Didn’t California already do this to their teachers–force a very large across the board pay cut?

  6. Black Agenda Report has been calling out the surreptitious privatizing of public schools. The loss of public schooling spells the end of democracy, to me anyway.

    • Agreed. Where else do people of different classes interact so closely on a somewhat level playing field? How else can we encourage educational opportunity? It feels like we’re drifting toward feudalism. The only public education will be in prisons (as long as they’re not all privatized).

  7. Riverdaughter

    Doncha know everything’s the fault of the teachers’ union? Or is it the postal workers’ union? Or is it the jooze? Things are getting so nuts in this country it’s hard to keep one’s head from exploding! Ka-boom!

    I admire your rational thinking…

  8. There was a time when I was willing to work within the national unions and the Democratic Party, knowing full well that the two party system (and the leadership of what remained of the Union Movement) excluded the voices of those who spoke for REAL equality and a radical response to economic injustice. I defended and supported what I knew to be a rigged game designed to insure the perpetuation of a deeply flawed status quo.

    I did so until It became clear that by agreeing to work within these institutions, I was sealing my doom and that of the working class I claimed to care so deeply about. The modern Democratic Party which assumed power as a result of the Great Depression, greatly liberalized our system and saved many Ives, but even in those early days they stood against the radical elements (Communists, Socialist) who really led the struggles to force the positive changes we saw in the 30’s.

    The election of Obama and the early and continued lockstep support by the national unions of his candidacy (TWICE) in the face of his policies and rhetoric effectively sealing the end of the NEW DEAL, those meager gains which kept us workers in line, has made me realize that a radical solution, no matter haw long the odds against it, is the only thing worth working for in my life.

    From: Socialism and the defense of public education in Chicago –
    It is first of all necessary to understand that the fight to defend public education requires a political struggle against the Democrats and Republicans. Both big business parties are absolutely united in their commitment to dismantling public education.
    The Bush administration initiated the “No Child Left Behind” program, which used tests to punitively close down schools. This was succeeded by Obama’s “Race to the Top”, which grants money to states that promote school privatization and mass firings of teachers and staff.
    Emanuel is merely carrying through in Chicago the national policy of the Obama administration. Chicago is Obama’s home city, and Emanuel is his former chief of staff and top fundraiser. Emanuel is working very closely with the entire administration, including the current education secretary and former Chicago public schools CEO Arne Duncan.
    Second, it is necessary to work through the experiences of the Chicago teachers strike and the role of the Chicago Teachers Union. The CTU does not represent the interests of teachers, who have shown great courage and determination in the fight to defend public education. Rather, the CTU speaks for a layer of privileged union executives dedicated above all to their political alliance with the Democratic Party and support for the capitalist system.
    While the CTU is now trying to present a “left” face, the aggressive program of closures and consolidations is in no small part the CTU’s responsibility.
    This past fall, 26,000 teachers went on strike to defend public education. They won immense support from the entire working class. The response of the CTU was to try to shut the strike down as quickly as possible and prevent it from developing into a broader struggle of the working class against school closings and the attack on social services. After just over a week, the strike was ended entirely on Emanuel’s terms.
    The Socialist Equality Party intervened in the strike, calling for the formation of new committees of struggle to unite teachers with all sections of the working class against Emanuel and the entire political establishment. The SEP warned that by ending the strike, the CTU was preparing the way for school closures and attacks on other city workers—the next items on Emanuel’s agenda. This is precisely what has happened.
    It was widely known during the strike that school closures were being demanded by city officials. The CTU accepted this, seeking only to have a seat at the table. Shortly after the defeat, CTU President Karen Lewis told theChicago Tribune, “We understand the whole movement of closing schools and doing it aggressively. We either do this together in some reasonable way or we will always be fighting, and I think the key is that the people that are making these decisions want to make them unilaterally.”
    They have the same position today. In a video released this week, Lewis promised that the CTU would mobilize all of its forces to aid in the process of schools receiving students from the recently closed schools. She admonished teachers, many of whom will be laid off, to support the union as it helps to implement the closures.
    The SEP calls on teachers, workers and community members to form action committees, independent of the unions, to unite the working class against the dictates of Emanuel and the school board.
    The defense of public education is above all a political struggle—one that must be directed against the entire economic system. Public education is based on the fundamentally egalitarian principle that everyone should have access to quality education. This is incompatible with the continued existence of capitalism, whose most essential feature is inequality, and which is unconditionally defended by both Democrats and Republicans.
    The national policy of public education “reform” is one part of a wholesale attack on the basic social rights of the working class, which are being taken apart in order to pay for the bailout of the banks and corporations in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
    A new leadership and political party of the working class must be built. We urge all workers and young people to read the World Socialist Web Site, study the program of the Socialist Equality Party, and take up the fight for socialism.

  9. We should be asking ourselves how we can get what they have.

    Or, more productively, we should be asking those TEACHERS how they can pay it forward and help the rest of us achieve the level of security they enjoy. They’re TEACHERS. I’m done cannonizing them. They’re perpetuating a cluster of practices that should be dumped. The kids don’t think, feel or need the same approach that was used before we landed on the moon and the communities who build the schools, stadiums and libraries would do better to re-direct the teaching skills at their disposal to a more responsive, effective interaction between the taxpayers and businesses who support the schools. Yes, Teachers face challenges. So do single moms, people without health insurance, working poor who have neither benefits nor retirement savings. Why SHOULDN’T they have to tighten up? The most demoralizing thing most teachers and administrators face is the elected school board extremists, corrupt jerks and retired union people who think like it’s STILL the Thirties. But – again – they’re TEACHERS. One would hope they could put their heads together and devise options for the community. But instead, they get THEIRS and you don’t see or hear from them again til it’s contract time and they’re striking for a raise while their neighbors lose homes because they have crappy jobs, vicious employers cheat them and the other “cannonized” union cops and firemen are still running that mental tape about how tough their jobs are – the rap they ran to get their LAST raise.

    • They’re perpetuating a cluster of practices that should be dumped?
      What are those practices in detail? One by one by one? Why should those practices be dumped . . . one by one by one in detail? What practices should be put in their place? Why exactly, and what exact difference would be made by each new practice? In detail?

  10. I have numerous associates and relatives employed in education and you cannot even have a rational conversation with them. They are so defensive of their union talking points, they are so obnoxiously controlling, they bring children to tears with their over-bearing intimidation and find ways to expand the education budget while providing fairly yawning results with the funds they already get. If you propose alternative teaching methods, such as those that prove effective on the job, you’re stupid, or you’re a moron who listens to Fox News. Or, even worse, they feel SORRY for you because you don’t reflect the indoctrination they installed in you after actually working in the real world…ah! to be so secure in your little fortress. I recently helped my niece with a report on “To Kill A Mockingbird,” and I was stunned by the drubbing poor white women are issued by English teachers eighty years after this story reflected a time when only men served on juries!

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