Students not a Collective Bargaining Right

by David Bruce

tenureThe recession that the United States is not in, according to government and business officials who want to keep their jobs, is forcing the hand of Wisconsin officials in respect to budget cuts for the coming fiscal year.  These budget cuts, among other details, eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state employees, teachers among them.  This particular event adds fuel to the debate of whether or not teachers are paid what they are worth.

This argument can be levied against any career.  Certainly those people who work any hours and many hours for retail operations would say that they are not paid what they are worth, and many would argue that sports and entertainment icons are paid far more than they are worth.  The issue in the instance of educators and in respect to the profession of teaching in general is in regards to the quality of education that we should be giving to our children and how we may accomplish that task.

Most teachers may argue in favor of labor unions to promote competitive pay and benefits and to secure their jobs.  If this is the impetus for teaching, then why teach?  The students are the focus.  No, services should not come for free.  Teachers provide a service than can never be measured in pay stubs and benefits, and teachers that perform admirably as measured by their superiors should be compensated accordingly.   Unions, however, are another level of bureaucracy that benefits those at the top more than those people that they were originally chartered to protect.

Unions are another layer of government and business that takes the focus away from the students.  Eliminate unions.  Eliminate tenure.  Resources may then be used to hire and promote teachers who do want to teach, and those that teach well should be paid their worth and prosper.  Those that do not teach well can learn something new.  This approach is not fool proof.  Administrators have been known to take advantage of employees, but a level of trust must be established for the best interests of all parties.

Ultimately, the goal is to promote learning.  The best teachers are a product of education and an innate desire to engage with students.  This is not necessarily accomplished or fostered by labor union and government intervention, as is evident by the failure of No Child Left Behind and the ongoing feud between school districts and teacher unions.  Students who learn, regardless of demographic, are good for and to themselves, their communities, and or country.

The Reality of Change

by David Bruce

minwageCitizens of Egypt asked for change and then demanded change.  When change did not come, the citizens of Egypt forced change and forced former President Muhammad Hosni Mubarek from office.  In turn, and almost in unison, other countries in the Middle East and northern Africa demanded likewise of their leaders.  Protestors in Libya seek to remove Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi from power, opponents of Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh are demanding that the leader relinquish his power, and thousands of protesters march in Jordan to affect political and economic change long planned for and summarily forgotten.

Meanwhile back in the United States, the Democratic and Republican parties continue their ongoing political sparring at the expense of the American people.  Current legislation threatens to eliminate funding that will ultimately lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.  Proposed cuts threaten job training for unemployed workers, teacher training, community health centers, and assistance for low-income families and children.  The billions of dollars saved are coincidentally offset by the extension of the Bush Administration tax cuts.

Across the states, the impact of government intervention, spending (or lack thereof), and legislation affects citizens to one extent or another.  People are still losing jobs, homes are still being foreclosed on, and food and fuel prices continue to rise.  At the same time, the government is proposing cuts that will threaten those least likely to compensate for the rising prices.  The changes proposed by the Obama Administration over two years ago have not come to pass, either as a result of political obstruction or executive incompetence is immaterial.  The end result is the same and affects the lower- and middle-class citizens of the United States adversely and often irreparably.

At what point do we get so fed up with the dogmatic assurances of change and the continued erosion of hope for a future that at least allows for the average American to maintain an unpretentious existence that we march in the streets in front of our state capitals, demanding from our governors and representatives a true change that works in favor of the citizens of the country and not the political and business empire that dominates our nation?

We have become so focused on reality shows that we have overlooked the reality outside of our homes.  We have become so enraptured with the latest electronic toys that we forgotten what the idea of freedom is, having become slaves to advertisements, big screens, and bright lights.  We are mesmerized and hypnotized, becoming blind to what our leaders are doing.  Will we wake up when it is too late, or will we take a page from the book of those peoples in Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan who have said enough is enough.  The change must come from us, or change will not come at all.