Apparently, the Chicago school teachers are on strike. I don't know why. I do know that the 2 main issues that ran on all the national news shows were:
How are parents going to find daycare on such short notice?
How are the kids on free lunches/breakfasts going to eat?
Not about the strike issues (I think it's about health insurance costs increasing), not that kids will miss instructional days.
Daycare and free lunches.
As I've written many, many times in the past, I think public schools have become more and more responsible for distributing social welfare programs than education. I'm not sure if I'm entirely opposed to this either.
I would rather that schools have free lunches than parents receive welfare benefits that can't be directed for their actual welfare. Serving a kid breakfast and lunch- which you know they actually get- is fine with me. The largest demographic under the poverty line is children and I find that horrifying. Free lunches can't be traded in dark alleys for drugs. They can't be cashed out to buy cigarettes. They feed children. So, to be honest, I'm okay with that.
Our school district also provides vision care, dental care and vaccinations through various county and private organizations.
Public schools may actually be the best way for government to provide benefits to the most needy and those who can't simply "get a job" as many people like to assume- you know, the children.
I'm also okay with therapeutic services being offered for children with disabilities. It saves a parent from hauling a child all over town, trying to compete for private programs-- it makes us all better as a society to care for those less fortunate.
I'd rather see a school offer it than simply sending out checks to people.
But with that said, can we at least make sure the schools are funded properly to do this? And can we also make sure that education actually DOES happen?
The last 2 weeks at our elementary school, parents have been complaining about the classroom sizes in fifth grade. The 5th grade has 37 kids per class.
Wow. That's a lot of kids.
When I heard parents complain about this and what they should do-- I very politely said "Keep that in mind when you vote. What did you think was going to happen?" And then I often get a dirty look.
I voted for our Republican governor and I would again. Yes, he cut the crap out of education. He cut the crap out of everything. He said he would. He said there was no money. There isn't. The opposing candidate had some very interesting numbers and figures. I work in finance. I went with the straight shooter. I knew what was going to happen. I didn't like it, but I also know there was no way in hell anyone was going to vote for a tax increase when we have 15% unemployment.
Our property values have dropped, so the revenue from real estate taxes bottomed out. We don't have a state income tax, so our state is dependent upon sales tax and real estate taxes for the bulk of its revenue. And, of course, an assortment of gaming, corporate, energy, etc... The sales tax dropped as tourist revenue declined.
No one wants to pay more in taxes. Everyone wants services. It doesn't work like that. If I walked into a store and wanted something I would have to pay for it. There's been a lot of talk about running government like a business lately; well folks, that's how businesses work.
On the way out of dropping off my kids this morning I was speaking with a friend of ours who is a fireman. His son is in one of the giant classes (the classrooms aren't designed to hold that many kids, either). I joked that some day people are going to call the fire department and their house is going to burn down because they all voted to cut "big government."
I'm against government waste. I just don't think adding teachers so my kid can get an education is wasteful. I don't think feeding a poor kid is a waste. Feeding his parents who could work....well, not so much.
In a country where 47% of the population doesn't pay federal income tax yet have public schools available, public safety, strong borders--- something is wrong. We have it very good in this country and yet people continue to complain and want more. And they don't want to pay for it. Half of those in that 47% actually THINK they are paying taxes.
When the lead story of a major teacher's strike is about daycare in lieu of education- because that's what education is apparently these days-- I am terrified. That's what we consider it. Babysitting.
I don't know what the strike is about- I'm sure it's wages, health insurance, classroom sizes-- my husband has 47 kids in nearly all of his freshmen and senior classes this year-- and I know nothing about Chicago Public Schools.
I do know that as a society we are failing. We are the Roman Empire- concerned with ourselves and not the community around us. What's in it for me? The teachers are striking- egads- what an inconvenience to my day! (And I do understand that it put many families in a bind financially- I don't mean to make light of that- but honestly- THAT'S the lead on the story??).
We were on the verge of an economic collapse 4 years ago based solely on greed. Did everyone forget? Eleven years ago people were trying to kill us.
Now we're greedy and fighting among ourselves like pre-schoolers going after the last cookie.
We are forcing schools to raise our children then complaining when the government interferes.
We want religious freedom, but only for our own religion.
We want privacy, but only if it applies to our lifestyle.
I feel like a live in a schizophrenic society where everyone simply wants and no one does. Which isn't true because I have many friends, of all religions, political persuasions, economic stature who do a lot to make the world a better place. I even married one.
But here's a thought people.... it's something I read on the internet the other day....probably from George Takei...
Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.
(And I'm kidding... I know it was JFK)