Marie is a teacher in Flemington, New Jersey. She loves her children – and yours. Promoted by Rosi
I usually start my day with the news and social media. It does a lot more to get me fired up than caffeine. I do ask my Higher Power to help me to not be mean or demeaning. It’s far too easy to get into endless debates with anonymous profiles who are entrenched in their beliefs. Alas, I’m not perfect. I’ve shared more than enough snark and pointed my finger at others many a time. I’ve been trying to distance myself by taking news blackout days, but not so this morning. My friend, DEFEND NJ PUBLIC ED!, aka @StopTheFreezeNJ, posted this piece of brilliance from Bill Maher and I was off to the races.
I quickly dug out the draft for this post.
I started it several years ago, during the Obama administration, amidst the upheaval of Race to the Top and the useless standardized tests that accompanied it, and are still in practice in many states. (So happy to report that this will be the last year for the
CCRAP PARCC test in NJ!) I started it during Arne Duncan’s utterly tone deaf tenure as Education Secretary (do read the comments for a trip down memory lane); during NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s reign of error when he slashed education funding and berated educators on an almost daily basis; after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shoved Act 10 down teachers’ throats and Ohio Gov. John Kasich failed to pass SB5; when we thought things just couldn’t get any worse…
I had to put it down because the more I researched, the more upset and overwhelmed I became. It was just too painful. I couldn’t step out of what I was living through.
But America has reached a new high in all-time lows. We are no longer a democracy, we are a hypocrisy. The wealthiest nation in the history of humanity does not love her children:
- The wealthiest nation on the planet has one of the highest child poverty rates in the industrialized world
- We have the highest infant mortality rate of comparable countries
- We have the highest child obesity rate of all OECD nations
- That number continues to climb and there is a direct correlation between it and poverty
- The richest 1% are getting richer and the rest of us are getting poorer
- Our lowest-paid workers are not paid a living wage
- Our current administration is rolling back regulations that keep our water, air and food safe
- The GOP tax increase will eventually take more money from the poor and middle class, and millions will lose health insurance
- Tax cuts in state after state are having a devastating effect on public education budgets
- Educators often work two, three and even four jobs to survive
- Our teachers earn far less than other industrialized nations, and our female teachers earn even less
- Our schools have become shooting galleries for lunatics with semiautomatic weapon
- Elected officials would rather arm teachers with guns than supplies to effectively do our jobs
- Elected officials would rather offer ‘thoughts and prayers’ and continue to take blood money from the NRA than enact sensible gun legislation that the overwhelming majority of Americans – including NRA members – want
The education piece is not a D or R issue. There’s plenty of blame – and profits – to go around. From Bill Clinton’s New Market Tax Credits which opened the floodgates to corporate profits from charter schools, to George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, to Barack Obama’s disastrous Race to the Top that made NCLB look like child’s play, America’s schools – especially those in high poverty districts – have been defunded to the bone and accountability has skyrocketed. Our teachers have been reduced to trying to force information into children’s heads who are then expected to regurgitate it to prove their school’s and teachers’ worth. And that Arizona teacher in the video who posted her measly $320 pay stub is more the rule than the exception. Veteran educators are fleeing the profession, taking decades of experience with them. Charter schools open and close like Whack-A-Moles. Public schools are shuttered often with no public input, disrupting the lives of families and communities. The Network for Public Education even has a regular column dedicated to the dysfunction and fiscal mismanagement in that industry. All of this is supposed to help America’s children.
And I haven’t even touched Betsy DeVos.
As Maher said, “We pay such lip service to our kids.” But they have been watching and suffering, and now they are fighting back – and voting.
This is insanity. It has to stop – and it will.
Teachers have been protesting for at least the past ten years, but in the past few months, the tone has changed. Teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Arizona, Oklahoma and New Jersey are walking off the job not just for higher wages but for more funding for their schools – for their students. This is only going to continue.
America is in the middle of a revolution. On any given day, in any given state, grass-roots campaigns are mobilizing to stop the injustice and inequality that have long festered in this country, and that ultimately hurt our children. These are just a few:
I’m sure I forgot a few. If so, leave them in the comments.
But thanks to Bill Maher, we now have a new one:
Welcome to the Revolution!