Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Morale and Momentum

Sometimes it's hard to be optimistic, What makes it particularly difficult is the certain knowledge we're traipsing around with targets on our backs. This is nothing new. Democrats and Republicans don't agree on much, but a whole lot of them take money from the anti-teacher, anti-public-education lobby.

Michael Bloomberg, who hates us and everything we stand for, ran as a Republican to become mayor, and now wants to buy himself the Democratic nomination for President. As if that's not enough, there's that Starbucks billionaire who paints himself as a moderate because he opposes health care for the likes of us and taxes for himself. It's mind-boggling what people get away with these days.

For those of us in New York, the most visible evidence of reforminess is our evaluation system. I'm personally at a loss how we fix it. I think it was a big step that we won fewer observations. That will somewhat cut the extreme stress of working teachers, but it's not enough. I still see crazy supervisors distributing capricious and unfair ratings, and that's unacceptable. On the other hand, I still see junk science test scores helping people raise those ratings more than lower them. What do you do in the face of a situation like this? It's going to take a lot of work to turn that around, and it's sadly not going to happen overnight.

And just when you make a small bit of progress, you open Diane Ravitch's blog and see the Koch brothers have decided to remake public education. Ravitch is not pleased.

The Koch brothers are living proof that this country needs a new tax structure to disrupt their billions, which they use to destroy whatever belongs to the public.
Unfortunately, all that money will be aimed at us. Perhaps the Koch Brothers, like Rupert Murdoch, see all that education money and wonder why more of it can't be in their pockets. After all, it's important they have even more money they don't need for any conceivable reason. Maybe they want to continue teaching their twisted version of history. What we know for sure, though, is that they want their moneyed voices to further eclipse those of us who actually do the work.

In the past, most conversations about education at these twice-annual Koch confabs have quickly turned into bashing teachers unions. So it was notable when Brian Hooks, the chairman of the Koch network, went out of his way to praise teachers and acknowledge that many have been picketing recently.

Perhaps they will take a page from the Bill Gates playbook and start another fake teacher org, like E4E. Personally, I don't trust the Kochs any further than I can throw them. If you think it's a coincidence that Donald Trump is President and we have a Supreme Court that doesn't represent the will of the American people, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can give you a good deal on. They money they're dumping  into this enterprise is pretty considerable:

The announcement came Monday at the end of a three-day seminar where 634 donors who have each committed to contribute at least $100,000 annually to Koch-linked groups gathered under palm trees at a luxury resort in the Coachella Valley.

Sounds like a nice place they picked, doesn't it? Do those sound like your working conditions? Are those your students' learning conditions? Do you believe for one minute that the frigging Koch brothers are looking to invest in improving them?

The fact is they're talking about easing the tensions between charter and public schools. They're talking about having the government fund religious schools. My instant translation says they want people to stop fighting non-union schools. They want us, working teachers, to lay down our skepticism and embrace them. And what do they like about them? Well it can't be that they're are better than public schools, because they aren't.

The fact is that non-union schools pay a whole lot less than public schools. I have a sister-in-law who works for a religious school. Her salary and benefits look nothing like mine. She doesn't have tenure and has to keep signing contracts over and over. She hasn't got a pension, but rather a 401K or something. Her employer pays a whole lot less into her retirement than mine does.

These are the sorts of things the Koch brothers would like to see. They want the money you don't get paid to end up in their pockets. It's hard for me to even imagine why they need more money. It's hard for me to imagine why Americans think they merit our support. I guess, though, when you can buy media and influence enough to create something like the Tea Party, you can make that stuff happen. They made Janus happen, and that's not enough for them.

We need to be active, vigilant and outspoken. We can't afford to feel sorry for ourselves and we can't afford shyness. All over the country, teachers have had enough. While we're better off than a whole lot of our brothers and sisters, we can't afford complacence either. We need to stand strong and make Americans and New Yorkers face the truth--the very same people who attack us are attacking the middle class. People who'd build walls aren't really worried about Mexicans--they're worried about us.

It's our job to keep them that way. We can either place our heads in the sand and cry, or fight the bastards. I much prefer the latter.
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