Tag Archives: politicians

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.

Eradicate School Supply Lists Forever!

Those articles about excessive school supply lists

school-supply-list-2015-675x385It’s that time of year again, when the articles about school supply lists come out. They’re always in awe of how many things teachers ask for, and most of them acknowledge the lack of school funding. It’s the one time of year when parents acknowledge the amount of money underpaid teachers shell out for your precious darlings because your legislators are shortchanging the next generation.

The thing, though, that upsets me most about are the fact that these articles always come from some benevolent mother who is explaining that you MUST donate otherwise some poor kid will suffer OR the teacher will be stuck with the bill. The problem isn’t that teachers buy stuff for the classroom or that some students can’t afford the cost of supplies. It’s that people have become complaisant about this issue. Donating to your local school is like sticking your finger in the dam—you might help for now, but the flood is still imminent.

legislator_14How can you fix this problem? Rather than just give to a classroom, MAKE YOUR LEGISLATORS SUFFER. Seriously—get off your butt and call your legislators. Call them early and often. Send them videos of kids with no crayons and barren classrooms, much like Canadian teachers did when they decided to demonstrate how little the government actually provides. Make time every week to call and email. Keep a form letter to copy and paste, changing only a line or two to remind your legislator (who is getting campaign money and boilerplate legislation from foundations that do not have your best interests at heart) that this issue is important to you. Attend their town hall meetings and bring it up. Don’t let them shoot you down with platitudes. This is their job, and they work for YOU.

If enough of you do it often enough, you’ll see results. Squeaky wheels do get the grease. Use the power of your voice and the power of your vote. If they won’t adequately fund schools, send them packing. If Kansas can do it, anybody can. You’ll have to click your mouse instead of your heels, but you can do it.

Actions speak louder than words, and you need to make sure your actions—and words—reach the RIGHT ears.

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Weiner Fest—What is wrong with our politicians?

Just when everyone had almost recovered from the shock of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelity, another politician commits a sexual indiscretion, this time via Twitter.

Congressman Anthony Weiner is the latest to join the large and growing club of politicians that have committed perverted, unethical, childish acts. There have been so many of these lately that I don’t even care about them anymore. So, why am I writing about it? I picked this for my topic because a lot of people do care. They are angry and fed up with men who are supposed to be respected by the American people, but do stupid, immoral things that are anything but respectful.

And how can I pass up the opportunity to write about a Weiner sending out pictures of his wiener? He just happens to have an ill-fated name that is perfect for jokes about sexual indiscretion. One sign held by a protestor calling for his resignation read: Circumcise Congress-Cut the Weiner. Weiner’s incident also proves how dangerous Twitter can be in the wrong hands. If only he had sent the picture via direct message to the person he intended to send it to, instead of sending it to everyone that follows him, he probably wouldn’t have been caught. Yet.

What’s wrong with these grown men that makes them act like teenage boys? These politicians are representing us and should set a good example. It’s hard to respect a man, especially a married man, that sends half-naked pictures of himself and then lies about it. And it’s not just the politicians that act like this. There are plenty of grown men in high-ranking positions that have affairs, email dirty jokes or pictures of their junk.

Should politicians that get caught doing unethical acts be removed? Maybe there should be rules put in place for this kind of behavior—suspension without pay or a fine. If fines were put in place, counting the number of politicians committing sexual indiscretions, bad behavior could help pay down our debt. They could call it the Politician Behaving Badly rule.

The latest news since I started writing this post is that Weiner has resigned. Now maybe we can focus on what’s really important. That is, until the next politician is caught up in the vast wave of politicians gone wild.

Kelley Heckart

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