Don’t Bring Me Down

There have been numerous articles now posted in local papers about the upcoming possibility of a state system of higher education strike in Pennsylvania.  And with that comes comments.  It has been unsettling to see the amount of ire towards educators.  I know there are a lot of conservative people in PA.  In a way PA is probably a good microcosm for the general breakdown of the country in Republican vs. Democrat.  There is a thread in attitude by the critics of the strike and I just wanted to briefly talk about it.  I don’t know what to do about it, but it does make me sad.

  1. There is of course general ignorance towards the problem.  Nobody really understands what educators go through on a daily basis, but apparently we can all easily be replaced with more qualified people at a lower cost.  For most people it’s all about the bottom line.   Dollars and cents.  Critics don’t think of whether or not changes to our contract might not cause the quality of education to suffer, we are simply greedy people who want more money and don’t care about our students.
  2. There is an overwhelming sense in these hard times that if other people are suffering we should suffer too.  One person commented “Let them not work for a year and see them struggle to pay their bills just like us.”  When did we become a country who simply wanted to tear each other down.  Shouldn’t we be trying to raise people up?  I want other people to have good health care…if mine became bad I wouldn’t be asking for others to have their health care reversed.  As we tear each other down, it seems like the only people going up are the very wealth in our society.  I saw a meme recently that was based on a Harvard Business study on perception vs reality.  Most people think CEOs make 30 times what the average American worker makes, when in fact it’s 350 times more.  Here is a video that illustration financial perception vs. reality.  It seems to me that the wealthy have done an excellent job at pitting us against each other.  In the south poor white people blame poor black people or poor Latinos for their problems.  Average workers are pitted against educators.  Teacher salaries are actually quite low compared to other countries and yet we are painted as people who are draining the system.  Poor people are pitting against law enforcement.  Yet law enforcement doesn’t pay very well, and pensions are being cut.  Law enforcement is an important job that requires intelligent and highly skilled people.  Somewhere in lost in the sea of finger pointing are wealthy people laughing at us all and distracting us from who is really
    taking away all of our money.
  3. Anti-union sentiments are strong.  I never really thought much about unions and their value.  I know unions can become corrupt.  Anything can become corrupt. Churches, government, business.  But overall I’ve noticed that when there are no unions, workers are taken advantage of more strongly.  This country has a history of workers not being treated fairly and humanely.  Unions have helped us rise out of that situation.  They have brought us child labor laws and helped workers make living wages.  And while there are plenty of examples where workers are treated well without a union, by and large this isn’t always the case.  Some companies have no need to form unions, others I think it is very important.  Our union is unique because our contract also contains important elements to educational quality.  Investing in education pays off, but when we treat it like a business and we don’t invest in that business, the quality suffers.

Education itself may need reform, but the answer isn’t to reduce quality.  Let’s look at what research demonstrates as effective pedagogy and make that happen in our schools.  Let’s make education truly affordable again.  Let’s not bring each other down, and focus on the true cause of our suffering.  People on welfare aren’t my enemy.  People who have lost their jobs, their benefits, who have had to take pay cuts aren’t my enemy.  I would support you every step of the way for you to improve your quality of life, and be treated fairly by your employer.  I’m not your enemy either.  I’m in the middle income tier in PA, as are many other professors.  Your teachers on average are in an even worse place financially.  The middle class continues to get thinner and it’s not good for our country.  There should be common ground between democrats and republicans to work together to build the middle class.  Weakening education and tearing middle class people down, doesn’t seem to be the answer.

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12 thoughts on “Don’t Bring Me Down

  1. “Nobody really understands what educators go through on a daily basis, but apparently we can all easily be replaced with more qualified people at a lower cost.” – The same is true in the UK and it’s a major problem, all the more-so when people speak of those who work in healthcare. They have no idea at all.

    Perception verses reality, the gap widens every day.

    Great post Swarn – this especially – “Let’s make education truly affordable again. Let’s not bring each other down, and focus on the true cause of our suffering. People on welfare aren’t my enemy. People who have lost their jobs, their benefits, who have had to take pay cuts aren’t my enemy. I would support you every step of the way for you to improve your quality of life, and be treated fairly by your employer. ” – well said that man!

    – esme upon the Cloud

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank Esme. It’s disheartening to say such bile spit out towards a cause you believe in. I know that money can’t completely be discounted as unimportant, but people act like I’m trying to take money out of their pockets. We have to stop pointing fingers at each other. It’s not helping.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Swarn, I echo every single word here! And I see that Nan also shared this video — I used it too in one of my blog-series on American inequality & economics last year. Excellent factual info, yet sad. I’ll just leave this video-clip here to the VERY capable hands of Nobel Prize Winning Economist Joseph Stiglitz, to support what you’ve written here…

    Great post Swarn! We educators have a lot of savvy empathetic civil work to do, don’t we? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Professor, and indeed educators have huge obstacles ahead of is. That’s a great video. Income inequality is tied to so many things. One can tolerate it up to a certain point, but it gets quite deleterious when there is a lack of transparency and equality in how the laws apply to all people, and a lack of social mobility to reach the upper echelons of income. Things that are currently big problems.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” –Plutarch

    I watched that video about two years ago on one of Madalyn’s posts.

    It’s quite an eye-opener. Swarn, we converse outside of the blogospere, so anything I say here, you’ve already heard, but I just want to, again, tell you how concerned I am about your situation, and sad and disappointed right along with you. You have every right to be. This move, to demonize teachers, is clearly a strategy, as that article I posted on one of your previous posts, explained.

    It’s such a shame that so many people don’t realize that they are playing into the hands of these “strategist”, thus the focus is taken off the very ones who seek to undermine our education system, and the stability of our country. As always, a very informative, humanistic, and thought-provoking post.

    *hug*

    Liked by 2 people

  4. IMO: The answer is NOT to reduce quality, NO. We have become a nation whose greed overvalues the vapid clink of corporate coin to the great and perilous detriment of the arts and humanities. We are a young nation that is on the brink of collapse if we do not get our priorities in order. Our universities employ some of the most brilliant and dedicated minds in the world – and we need the answers they can provide and we need them yesterday, especially as pertains to issues of sustainability and renew(able/ed) infrastructure. Scraping the coffers to feed fat bureaucrats is starving us into oblivion of our own making if we continue to diminish these valuable human resources. Aloha, Swarn.

    Liked by 1 person

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