Labor Day and “I Hate Unions”

Labor Day and Dislike of Unions

Union meme 2It’s funny that the nation takes a day off the first Monday in September (unless you have a minimum wage job, in which case you’re probably selling grills or hot dogs) to celebrate the creation of unions. So many people are anti-union, especially when it comes to teachers unions.

I can’t tell you how many articles and comments I’ve read that denigrate teachers unions. They talk about teachers as if we’re demanding raises at the expense of everything else. They paint us as nameless, faceless greedy Grinches who will sell your kid’s soul to the devil for ten cents more a year. This comes after the month long lovefest of articles celebrating the generosity of underpaid teachers who dip into their own meager resources to provide pencils and glue sticks for needy kids. Isn’t that ironic?Union thug meme

Anyway, back to the union thing. In national polls, people have a low opinion of teachers and schools, yet when asked about THEIR community schools, people generally rate them quite high. People hate on the teacher unions, but they love their kids’ teachers. Why? Simple—we make an easy scapegoat. Teachers do care about the kids we teach, and most of us dislike politics. We want to teach kids, not fight legislators to increase school funding to keep up with inflation.

I’ve NEVER had a cost of living increase. I haven’t had an actual raise in over a decade. In fact, I’ve taken about a 19% pay cut. I now work two jobs. Last year, my second job brought in as much income as teaching. This year, it’ll bring more. Does that mean that teaching is now the second job?

Additionally legislators have made us pay more for health care. You’re thinking we should, right? What if I told you that in bargaining, we put would-be raises into paying for rising health care costs so that the district wasn’t paying out any more money? What if I told you that we were already indirectly paying for those increased costs?

Union memeWe pay a price for that method, one that actually eases the burden on the pension system. When we retire, the cost of benefits isn’t figured into our pension payout. Now that the legislature has forced us to pay out of pocket for health care increases, we’ll take those raises. Of course there’s been no increase in the per pupil allowance, so there will be no raise for us.

But what about those greedy teachers in unions? What do unions actually do? In my district, they made the district send home 650 kids in a school that had no power and water. The district was going to keep them there even though they couldn’t flush a toilet or get a drink of water. The union put pressure on them, and they sent the kids home, where they had access to bathrooms and water.

And just like your child’s teacher advocates for your child, so does the union. We may do it on a school or district level, but the union does it on a state and national level. Schools don’t make money, and so it’s ludicrous to apply a business model to them. They educate. They connect communities. They advocate for neglected and abused kids. They help community services find families that need help feeding and clothing their kids, getting sober, or finding jobs.

People often argue that unions prevent change from happening in schools, but that’s false as well. Teachers bring new methods to the classroom, but we’re often not supported or shot down by administrators. Unions advocate for updated curriculum and teaching methods.

I’ve seen people rage against the school calendar. Boys do better when they can learn in the afternoon, and elementary kids learn better in the morning. Teachers have no say over those things. Daily start times are determined by the bus schedule. The yearly calendar is in the hands of politicians. In Michigan, they passed laws that say school can’t start until after Labor Day, they set the length of the school year/day, and they determine holiday, winter, and spring breaks. That pretty much dictates when the year ends as well. Teachers have NOTHING to do with any of that, and we’re shot down when we bring up those kinds of ideas.

legislator_13Unions aren’t perfect, but they’re the only thing protecting your child from being treated as a trade commodity. After all, I don’t see parents out there advocating for their school-aged kids.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: August 28th: An Icelandic Festival

Freyr would be honored with a great festival that would include horse races among other things.  Freyr was a god living in Icelandic culture. His festival was called, Freyfaxi, which was actually the name of a horse belonging to Chieftain Hrafnkell Freysgodi.

This was Chieftain Hrafnkell Freysgodi’s way of honoring the God Freyr, who presided over the land and it’s fertility.

Ancient Calendar & Pagan Holidays: August 27th: A Big Day In Ancient Egypt

Happy Birthday Isis! Ancient Egyptians would have made this her day of birth or at least, had a celebration honoring the day she was born.

Isis was a very important part of Egyptians culture and to date, is one of the oldest Goddesses known to survive Culture, Age and Time. Her name is still invoked and honored today by the many labels living under Paganism.

Also in Ancient Egypt, Bastet had her Procession marked in their Calendar on this day. Bastet protected women who were expecting and also, like her father Ra, was a deity of the Sun. She was untamed with a full and loving heart but while she was known for her willingness to do good and give, she was also known for being very capable of striking down evil and punishing them. She loves Cats and was drawn with a cat-head.  In fact, in Ancient Egypt, if you brought harm to a Cat, you could be killed for it… and you wouldn’t want to tick off Bastet, would you?

Offerings to the Minoan Deities

One pagan spiritual activity that has remained a constant from ancient times to the present is the making of offerings. I’m not talking about sacrifice (animal, human, or otherwise) but about the giving of gifts to the gods as a way to represent your devotion to them. In the same way that someone who honors you might give you a special present, you can also honor the deities by offering them a little something special.

Shrine of the Double Axes East Wing Knossos
Shrine of the Double Axes from the Minoan temple complex at Knossos, Crete

We can tell what the Minoans gave as offerings from  Minoan art and from residues that archaeologists have studied in containers from ancient Crete. And it all looks surprisingly familiar: incense, fruit, flowers, bread, and libations of wine and milk.

These offerings were typically set out in special dishes on altars and in shrines in people’s homes and at other sacred sites: the temple complexes, peak sanctuaries, and cave shrines of Crete. Indoors, libations were poured into bowls or into special recesses in the floor. Outdoors, they were simply poured out onto the ground.

Making an offering is a simple way of paying attention to the gods and goddesses. This isn’t “vending machine spirituality” where you give something to a deity and expect a favor in return. This is a way to develop a relationship, to show that you’re paying attention to them. Whether you think of it as putting energy toward an archetype that you want to strengthen in your life or giving a gift to a being whom you revere and would like to grow closer to, making regular offerings is a good way to develop a simple spiritual practice.

I’ll admit that one of the most common offerings I make isn’t something the Minoans did, because they didn’t have candles (like all people of their time period, they used oil lamps). I like to light a candle as an offering, usually a tea light that I let burn down completely. Sometimes I add a pinch or two of herbs or powdered resin or a drop or two of essential oil to flesh out the “vibe” of my offering. And sometimes I just light a candle and quietly say, “Thank you for being there.” Because that’s something we all like to hear, isn’t it?