Needing a break

I spent the evening just breathing while sitting on my bed in the camper. I find the smallness of the camper to be soothing like that machine Temple Grandin used to squeeze her body. I don’t have that machine but the embryonic roundness of my aluminum cocoon is what I curl up in when the world is too much with me.

The world is too much with me these days. The news happens so fast and its always negative. I shut it off and I can’t keep up anyway. Theres a feeling of desperation in the air I can’t describe; a bitter metallic taste of fear and anger and frustration. I become embroiled by it if I succumb to anger and fear. I feel like we are living Yeats’s The Second Coming.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

I need quiet. I crave quiet. I’m tired of the anger and divisiveness and cacophony of voices all shouting at each other drowning out reason.

People fighting for their party like it’s a life and death thing. People disowning family over this. People hurting others because they believe what they are told about teachers and immigrants and protesters and Republicans and Democrats. I fear there is nothing to be saved and that we are lost as a nation. The divide between rich and poor is a chasm. We work more and earn less. Every day a new scandal and new denials and more anger and injustice ugh!! Today our president announced that protesting which is a 1st Amendment right should be illegal. This isn’t really a surprise, because Republicans have been trying to get rid of protesting by passing laws to curtail it for the last year-and-a-half. This in a country that used to be about freedom and used to stand up against the Putins and Dutertes of the world. No, now we admire dictators. It is a brave new world in which we hate diplomacy and pull out of human rights councils. It is a brave new world in which we deride our allies and embrace despots as friends. Upside down. Alice in the rabbit hole. I wonder when the madness ends. My life is looped into the life of the nation. I love my country and I’m terrified at what I see. The opposite of freedom is happening . Praise of Putin and autocrats by Trump and his followers even before he was in the White House let alone now is even scaring those conservatives left who are actually conservative.

I sit and breathe. Politics affects everything now. Its affecting friendships and relationships. Its personal. It didn’t used to be this way. You could live separately from the goings on in Washington and do all right. Not anymore. Its been a slow creeping infection this division and hate.

Its killing America. Its killing freedom and people will die because of this disease of nationalism and populism.

I fear for my country.

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Injustice

Yesterday I wrote what I see as injustice being done to children, schools and teachers; and by extension the public at large. Today I want to talk further about how injustice for one equals injustice for all and why we, the American public, can not afford to believe propaganda whether from the right or the left and continue to sleep at the wheel regarding public education as we have been doing the last few years.

The ones in power think you are dumb.

I’m starting with the assumption that you are not stupid. You know injustice when you see it. Even kids know when something is or isn’t fair. The propagandists use our biases and fears to twist injustice (because it benefits them, usually monetarily), and make it seem like if teachers or public schools are having problems, it’s the teachers’ fault or the kids’ fault or the parents’ fault (you see this targeted most effectively towards poverty stricken areas). The richest country in the world, the United States, has some of the highest rates of child poverty in the world.

It always comes down to money.

Funding for public education is now seen as “reward money” only to be given to the most deserving teachers in the most deserving schools. Those schools tend to be in better served areas, not underserved areas, so when underserved schools fail, the politicians point their fingers and convince you that if they failed it was because the teachers are “bad,” so the school didn’t deserve that funding and convince parents to take their kids out of that public school and put them in privatized charter schools. Guess where the Federal funding per student goes? Into the pockets of the politicians and CEOs on the unelected boards of these privatized institutions with little to no state oversight. This creates a constant conflict of interests that (guess what) don’t benefit students.

Funding for the beleaguered public school and teacher pay is then based on students’ performance on standardized tests. Hence, teachers end up teaching to the test or worse. During Teach for America’s former head “educational reformer” (read: public school destroyer) Michelle Rhee’s memorably fraught tenure as Chancellor of DC public schools in 2007– the “reformers” began by stripping decision making power from the school board (elected officials so your voice was silenced), and the school board was then turned into an advisory body, and the new office of chancellor was created—so changes in the public school system could be made without waiting for the approval of the school board. That’s right. They did all of that with little to no outcry by the public and they got away with it.

In other words, it was a hostile takeover by politicians and “reformers.” The first thing they took was YOUR voice. While politicians argued with the school district about money, the teachers stayed anyway despite the poor state of the schools, and were given zero credit for their dedication to the students during the years all this was going on up to dismantling the school boards power. Instead, once Rhee was hired, she weakened the teachers’ contract and then fired 241 teachers and put 737 on notice.Budget cuts were the scapegoat for continued firings of teachers through 2009.

Because they were getting fired left and right, and because their new weakened contract made pay increases dependent on student performance on standardized tests, with no tenure rights that would have protected them from being targeted as a political football ripe for firing, cheating, institutionalized fraud and dumbing down of tests became the tools of the desperate.

This is just one example. Teachers all over the country have been enduring similar treatment, been given zero respect, vilified in the media in order to get public support for privatizing education, and are blamed for everything that goes wrong in the public school system thanks to a marvelous brainwashing campaign by certain members of the media that reformers and politicians have been using to serve their interests.

The upshot

The injustice being done here in destroying the public school system in this country is patently clear.

1. Cut education funding so schools can’t get textbooks or supplies or make infrastructure repairs and keep cutting until the school falls apart and becomes a place students can’t learn. There goes test scores!

2. Weaken or destroy unions by making states “right to work” states that gut union protections for educators and blue collar workers so that politicians and corporate interests can run roughshod over them to achieve their ends, and the teachers and workers can’t do a thing about it and indeed, have been told right to work is really protecting them from the big bad corrupt union! Now teachers and workers have no one to represent their interests and that is how people in power like it.

3. As a result of #1 and #2, test scores drop, schools literally fall apart and teachers are left holding the bag to buy their own classroom materials and/or have parents buy more; the teachers are then blamed by the “reformers,” politicians and CEOs, who feed this line to their media of choice so that you won’t see what’s going on. They then cut teacher pay, and cut benefits to “discipline” the “bad teachers” (or hell. Do it Michelle Rhee style and fire them all), and this planned obsolescence creates a fake need for charter schools. The “reformers” who really have a vested monetary and/or ideological interest in destroying public education, look like heroes crusading “for the kids” while making striking teachers look evil for shutting down schools because they are trying to get the funding to give the best education they can for the kids.

3. Federal dollars per student are then funneled into “reformers” and politicians and CEOs pockets and the public doesn’t see it because they’re so busy being told to “look over there” at the “bad” teachers and failing schools. The public is mad at the wrong people. Be mad at the politicians who created this planned disaster.

Do your own research. Make the connections. The “reforms” aren’t working.

Public education in this country is tried and true and has been the bedrock of our republic for over 100 years. Teachers are professionals. Take the examples of Canada and Finland where teachers are regarded as highly as doctors and lawyers and listen to them. Let them do their job instead of being an armchair critic. Unless they’ve spent time teaching in a classroom politicians don’t know shit about teaching or what it entails. They want money. That’s it. They want to steal taxpayer money under the guise of telling you the people what a big fat favor they are doing our kids by getting rid of incompetent teachers and the rotten unions who protect them, and they’ve put the biggest fox of them all in charge of the henhouse–Betsy DeVos, who has never taught a day in her life and has made it patently clear she is not for the public school system and is for “school choice” and teaching evangelical fundamentalist Christianity in the schools.

Injustice of this magnitude contributes to the dumbing down of society and is taking the last democratic bastion of this nation away from the people. Pay attention.

Support public education and funding public education, and the teachers who are fighting for public education and your kids so that ALL children may receive an excellent education.