Monday, October 11, 2010

The Corporate Massacre

My response to today's New York Times article by Ross Douthat, "Grading Schools Choice."
Here is a link to the article:

You say the 'movie' Waiting For Superman is propaganda. It is--it is a massive propaganda campaign against unions which, it goes without saying, mega wealthy corporations and business owners want to ultimately destroy. NO ONE has ever shown that unions are destroying our schools. Baldly stated, saying that unions are destroying our schools is a lie.

In fact the opposite is true: in states with strong unions, the teaching is strongest. States with no unions, such as in the South, have weak education. All the European countries you like to say we are losing against--well, their teachers have UNIONS. Contrary to the propaganda, the main function of a union is to protect GOOD teachers; you certainly CAN get fired if you're incompetent or negligent; and one of the main risks of no protection is exactly what happens in charter schools: In the vast majority of many privately owned charters, older good experienced teachers are nonexistent. Instead, they are filled with a rapidly revolving cadre of young frightened CHEAP workers. This is what Corporations want, folks.

For those who will argue something along the lines of: "In my private job, I can get fired at will and whim, so suck it up teachers,": I say: Just because conditions are horrible in private industries, does not mean they should be horrible in public schools. What does this mean? I suffer, so so should you. Unions were destroyed for me, so they should be for you, too. Envy and bitterness is not the way to make a decision; it is merely a way for corporations to play with your feelings, to manipulate you to agree with their anti-unions attacks.

Corporations smell money like vampires or sharks; their latest course of blood money are schools; what you and I see are children in need of an education; what they see is public money heretofore untapped. The alliance between corporatism and the military has been extremely profitable for a handful of gazillionaires. Next are schools. They just keep repeating the Big Lie, that unions are the cause of our schools' decay. IT IS A LIE. THERE IS ZERO PROOF. Anecdotes are just that: Anecdotes. For every anecdote you give about one dud teacher 'protected' by the union, I can give you 1000 of fabulous teachers protected by the union, or 100,000 who are simply great teachers while working in a union. THe complete and utter lack of evidence in their repeated attack on unions is proof that their goal is not to improve schools but to get rid of highly experienced -more expensive, potentially 'troublesome,' to corporations - teachers.

You then quote extensively from American Enterprise Institute. This organization is a highly conservative, highly influential, pro-business organization. It is funded by several private corporations such as Exxon and Phillip Morris. Its website states: "national and multinational corporations who support AEI maintain close relationships with the Institute's scholars and regularly receive top-level research and analysis on specific policy interests and priorities. In addition, corporations provide important input to AEI on a wide variety of issues. Corporate involvement with AEI includes special invitations to public and private events; AEI's full slate of research studies, articles, books and other publications; access to our scholars, fellows, and senior management; and more."

Readers: Ask yourselves why big business would suddenly care about education. Why are hedge fund managers suddenly so involved? THey send their own kids to elite private schools and have for years. They have no direct personal experience with public schools, nothing at stake, and zero expertise. Zero. Yet this article quotes extensively from a Pro-Corporate organization in a 'debate' about public schools that bashes unions. Think. Question. It is massive propaganda, that's right. And the goal is to make our schools as profitable for a handful of corporations as the military is now. Is that the future you want? The school-industrial complex? Filled with young frightened easily intimidated poorly paid 'workers,' um, teachers?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

One Year, One Job Later

Well (she sheepishly admits), it's been over a year since my last post. I was laid off of my last teaching job - no more Guardians of the World for me! - and to be honest didn't have the energy or will to update the blog. Before I go on, I should say that after seven months of unemployment, I was fortunate to land another job teaching high school English. By the way, 700 people applied for the job. Yes, 700. More on that. My new job is in a very different district, quite poor, two thirds white and one third African American. More on this too--many juicy stories, no fear.

But in the interim between my last post and now, the witchhunt against teachers has risen to fever pitch. Corporatists, politicians of both stripes, and their paid mouthpieces - the media - have been unanimous in trashing teachers. It's bizarre. You pick up the paper, you listen to Oprah, you turn on the TV, you listen to the radio, you go to the movies--and it's like one person is saying the same thing over and over and over. And very orchestrated at that. The narrative is simple:

Waiting For Millionaires

Our schools are bad. This is because of Bad Teachers. Our students would be learning, but bad deadwood teachers don't get off their lazy asses and can't get fired because of big bad lazy evil unions. Unionized teachers are lazy spoiled shits who are running our schools into the ground and the union makes them lazier and shittier. Women used to go into teaching because they had no choice, but now we're getting the dregs--just dumb blue collar non-Ivy-educated women. But charter schools are Good. Why? Because they are. They have no big bad evil unions. They have Young Enthusiastic Low-Paid Easily Duped worker-slaves, um, teachers. They are Good because they are run by private businessmen who, as everyone knows from Wall Street, are efficient, caring, and motivated by excellence. Cut to: random anecdote which shows how great charter schools are.

To anyone with any knowledge of actual public schools - rather than the fantasy served up in Hollywood or their childhood memories - these attacks are transparently the act of a powerful handful of mega-wealthy people who want to privatize our schools in order to turn a profit. That's it. If you keep that in mind, everything they say makes sense. These people will stick their blood funnels into anything that smells like money and with schools, they see a lot of untapped blood. They are vampires and sharks. They smell money and they want it.

So one day they turned their eye on public schools and saith unto themselves, "Gosh, that's an awful lot of government money spent on something without anybody getting rich off it." Why can't schools be more like, you know, the military? Now THAT'S a great corporate/government alliance!

This blog will NOT be a feel-good, let's-help-other-teachers-be-great blog. This blog will be a polemic, a political statement, and a reality check. I am the voice inside the doors. I am a living 'dead wood. I am a 'warm body' schools are supposedly so desperate to give tenure to.

From behind closed doors, I am the Voice of Teachers.