Category Archives: Education

Acton Institute contributor Says Child Labor a Wonderful Idea

Kathryn Talbert

While we’d rather keep the focus local to state politics, the national action right now is hard to ignore, what with Trump tramping all over every decent element of democracy, much less progressive values and all.

And Facebook churns endlessly the articles that people pick up and thrown amongst each other, many like hot potatoes because they are so absolutely abhorrent in thought and character that no one can hold onto to them for very long as they gasp in horror.

Thus so it was for me when I came across the exclamation “‘Mining Would Be Exciting For Kids’: Trump’s Secretary Of Education Wants Legal Child Labor”

Which was excerpted from an article that rationalized kids being thrown into the workforce written by one Jeffrey Tucker who so impressed Mr. Joseph Sunde (of the pro-charter anti-public school group the Acton Institute) that he, Mr. Sunde then decide to burp up a smelly piece all by himself to salute to those fine standards and values such as work. Intellectualism he says, is highly over-rated! Well, we can easily understand why Mr. Sunde would feel that way, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to try to teach the rest of our children.

Anyway, here’s my thoughts banged out quickly on the old keyboard. Enjoy and please, feel free to stop in over at Mr. Sunde’s site and give him a howdie and a schooling, because he desperately needs some of that intellectualizing!

See his article here, “Work is a gift our kids can handle”

What a bunch of absolute drivel! While kids have shown to statistically be entering the workforce less, by and large the ability to make that choice is a luxury still only afforded to kids in the upper and middle class. Working class kids still often have to work as soon as 14 years old (yes there are states like the one I live in that allow kids to work limited hours at 14), not necessarily to supplement the family income but to have anything for themselves. I know my three children had to and my interactions at work with many younger people bears that out; children in lower income families are usually told pretty early on that they will have to start providing for the extras of their needs outside of food and shelter, which the parents still provide. Many have to work to buy their first car, buy school clothes or have any money for extras for social activities.

Other than that, middle class kids chose not to work because most are engaged in activities in school or outside school to prepare them for college; sports, clubs and other activities.

Much of this silly article centers around the even sillier commentary from Jeffrey Tucker, whoever he is, who seems to have slept through history class on the days when they talked about the brutality of labor in the 19th century. He apparently also, it appears never worked a low-wage retail or laboring job his entire life because not one single person who does feels that it uplifts their soul, raises them to new heights or whatever fantasies he applies.

21. Yüzyılda Acı Tablo: 'Dünyada Modern Köle Sayısı 45 Milyon'

Obviously this young worker is having a grand time whilst planning her great future in industrial ownership and entrepreneurial undertakings!

Its damned job.  A job, a soul-sucking, mind-numbing job where instead of typing your thoughts on a computer and somebody thinking your words mean enough to put in a column, you are told to shut up, do the job or get the hell out for the next one. And at the end of the week, when you receive your paycheck, unless you are a kid with someone else paying your way, you will again feel that soul-sucking sensation when you look at the meager pay you received for your 150% effort. Now you can decide, do you pay the light bill or rent?

Now getting back to the mind-numbing, soul-sucking part. We have a democracy. In a democracy we need our citizenry to be able to make basic decisions about their future and that of the country when they choose who to vote for. Hopefully they will make a good and sound decision after considering all the elements at hand.

Image result for US child labor

Children in Pennsylvania coal mine. No doubt the adult oversee has the best intentions in mind with that cane in his hand and taught valuable lessons in business skills and capital acquisition. Why have we never heard from all these child laborers of days gone by? Where are their memoirs? Their riches and fine houses? Their stories of winning the golden ring?

Lo! But that requires an education! And I’m not talking about just knowing the basic three R’s like arithmetic and reading and writing, I’m talking about critical thinking, history, civics and the rest. Already we have a Christian-based right-wing nutbag organization in Texas that does the final decision making on high school text books and you know what we have? We have a population that is about one third ignorant, sexist bigots and then another portion of privileged jerks who write columns saying that it isn’t important for certain peoples in our fine democracy to have a clue what is going on in their country. I suppose your resolution for that Mr. Sunde would be to just take away that problem by removing them from the voting roles! Hey, after all, as it is we have a problem with people getting to the polls because employers won’t let them go.

Children need the nurture that comes from a healthy family and community throughout their childhood and that childhood is also during their teens. Girls and boys need to be engaged in activities that are safe and regulated by adults that care about their development. They don’t need to be thrown to the wolves to be exploited by corporate monsters out for every buck they can squeeze from anyone, even children. Children died working in mines and mills, they were horribly disfigured, disabled and often were malnourished and diseased.

They most often did not attend school, were largely illiterate or semi-literate and never had the pleasure of enjoying the chance to reach their own potential as unique individuals. Many died before they reached the twenties from disability and occupational disease. But what’s most important is that almost all of them suffered from the deprivation of guidance, love and security that children need in order to grow into productive and emotionally healthy adults and contributory citizens.

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Newsboys in St. Louis, 1910, picture by Lewis Hines. Here we see how children at work learn all sorts of fine habits from the adult environment they are exposed to.

As it is already children who start working early often lose interest in academics unless their parents hold a hard line on them. Employers will pressure them to work later than they should and their exposure to adults as a large part of their social upbringing is not always a positive thing; its the type of adults and the types of activities and values that children are exposed to that can make a positive or a very negative difference in their lives. In addition, neither middle school aged nor high school age kids have the ability to determine for themselves when they are being exploited by adults or not.

This is absolutely the dumbest piece of commentary I’ve read in a long time and it represents a frightening trend in our society. It reflects the idea that many have adopted that the lower sector of society, from children to adults, is disposable fodder to feed the endless greed of corporate machinery.

I don’t know who paid you or your colleague Mr. Tucker to write such garbage, or how much, but for selling out your soul intellectually the way you are apparently willing, your God will have judgment waiting for you.

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Chomsky: Democracy is a Threat to Any Power System

From video description :

“To mark The Nation’s 150th anniversary, John Nichols was joined in conversation by the eminent radical intellectual Noam Chomsky at the Tucson Festival of Books in Arizona on March 15. Discussing issues ranging from media accountability and voter participation, to money in politics and income inequality.”

Thanks to The Nation magazine

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Fundamentalist Christian Textbooks Exposed — This is What Vouchers Will Pay For

Bruce Wilson, writing on the blog Talk to Action gives a very disturbing look at the textbooks typically used in many fundamentalist Christian schools around the country.  Loaded with blatently racist lies, such as stating that the KKK acted as some kind of Christian benevolent organization, or that the Great Depression was exaggerated by propagandists like John Steinbeck, these books not only provide the only resource for education for millions of American children across the country, in many states they also are funded by the tax payers.

New Hampshire residents need to pay attention to this issue as the extremist right-wing faction in the state house would like nothing better than to take public tax dollars and funnel them into parochial schools.  Using dubious claims and even outright misinformation about Common Core, the fundamentalist right wing, funded oddly enough by large corporate and political players, attempt to cast doubt into the public’s mind about the quality of public education.

This look into the textbooks used by these religious schools demonstrates the reason why corporate interests love the malleable and unregulated industry of parochial schools; they can serve as the breeding ground for a compliant, uninformed and ignorant future population to exploit.

Nessie a Plesiosaur? Louisiana To Fund Schools Using Odd, Bigoted Fundamentalist Textbooks

“the [Ku Klux] Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross… In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians.” – from Bob Jones University Press American history textbook

This 2012-2013 school year, thanks to a bill pushed through by governor Bobby Jindal, thousands of students in Louisiana will receive state voucher money, transferred from public school funding, to attend private religious schools, some of which teach from a Christian curriculum that suggests the Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution and states that the alleged creature, which has never been demonstrated to even exist, has been tracked by submarine and is probably a plesiosaur. The curriculum also claims that a Japanese fishing boat caught a dinosaur.

On the list of schools approved to receive funding through the new voucher funding, that critics warn could eventually cut public school funding in half, are schools that teach from the Christian fundamentalist A Beka Book, Bob Jones University Press, and Accelerated Christian Education curriculum.What’s in that curriculum? Last year, researcher Rachel Tabachnick and I co-produced a 35-minute documentary on the spread of a similar voucher program in Pennsylvania and other US states, titled “School Choice: Taxpayer-Funded Creationism, Bigotry, and Bias”. Embedded at the end of this post is an eight-minute video segment from that documentary with scans from material in currently used A Beka Book and Bob Jones University Press texts (in this May 25, 2011 story Tabachnick provides quotes from those textbooks.)

Continue reading: Nessie a Plesiosaur?

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The Cost to Benefit Ratio of Ignorance: aka Free State Project-NH

A FSP elder?

A FSP elder?

Demonstrating once again that our American public education system is sadly underfunded, Free State Project adherent and generally creepy, obviously not employed wannabe journalist David Ridley harasses a volunteer New Hampshire state rep.  Now, firstly, as someone points out in the comments on the you-tube site, the Department of Ed is a federal program, not a state one and thus it would seem the place to gripe and argue about public education would be on the federal level.

But we know that the Koch Brother’s Ground Crew isn’t interested in attacking the federal government, what with having to fight for space with professional lobbyists and all. The best place they’ve determined to put up the anti-regulation/return us back to feudalism cause is at the states.  We’ve all seen this in action with the ALEC agenda started with Ronald Reagan in the 80’s. Because well, you know, corporations are just killing themselves for a chance to educate our children, clean our air and water and generally keep us all healthy, happy and able to pursuit life, liberty and all that, amirite?

Of course you knew I was joking. Those of you who paid attention in your public school and listened to your union paid certified teacher I’m sure understand the irony of people who can read and write thanks to the public education system saying as adults that they don’t want to pay a share of cost for others.

Ridley asked, “Are you going to force me to pay for that?”  To which the rational viewer must ask, “How much does ignorance cost?”

Onto Susan the Bruce wherein the vile video sits.

by No, I’m Not a Guy You Idiot

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So Lab Rats are Smarter Than Libertarians

Lab rat works to free captive where no obvious capital incentive exists.

Empathy: the one human emotion that makes Ayn Rand roll in her grave and gives all Free Staters and other Libertarians the willies — except when their own necks are on the line and they could use a hand.  It is well known that Ayn Rand had no problem living off the empathy of those who came before her and struggled for her right to receive social security and Medicare benefits in her old age.  Regardless though, Libertarians continue to preach that the way to peace is just to be a self centered prick and not bother to worry about the consequences of your actions on others, or to stop and help others.

Of course, according to this study, proof exists that lab rats are smarter than Libertarians, since they’ve apparently figured out that helping out your friends and neighbors and even sharing your booty is a good thing for your own future welfare; we all need each other and more than likely sometime down the line you will need others to give a damn about you when you and be willing to work to make your life — and in turn their life, better.  What a concept! Sounds like socialism!

Let’s take that thought a little further down the road of Logic and Plain Simple Thinking (deserves capitalization since its so under-rated these days), cut a little with Occam’s Razor and viola! We come across this excellent animation from Upworthy, made by Roman Krznaric on the power of empathy as a force for human change.  A very good animation and talk on the power of human empathy; what it means and how has a natural human emotion, we all have the ability to harness this to make positive social change and work toward peace, locally and globally.

Enjoy:

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Thanksgiving – A Time of Mourning

From Black Commentator.com:

Frank James

When Frank James (1923 – February 20, 2001), known to the Wampanoag people as Wampsutta, was invited to speak by the Commonwealth of Massachusettsat the 1970 annual Thanksgiving feast at Plymouth. When the text of Mr. James’ speech, a powerful statement of anger at the history of oppression of the Native people of America, became known before the event, the Commonwealth “disinvited” him. Wampsutta was not prepared to have his speech revised by the Pilgrims. He left the dinner and the ceremonies and went to the hill near the statue of the Massasoit, who as the leader of the Wampanoags when the Pilgrims landed in their territory. There overlooking Plymouth Harbor, he looked at the replica of the Mayflower. It was there that he gave his speech that was to be given to the Pilgrims and their guests. There eight or ten Indians and their supporters listened in indignation as Frank talked of the takeover of the Wampanoag tradition, culture, religion, and land.

That silencing of a strong and honest Native voice led to the convening of the National Day of Mourning. The following is the text of 1970 speech by Wampsutta, an Aquinnah Wampanoag elder and Native American activist.

I speak to you as a man — a Wampanoag Man. I am a proud man, proud of my ancestry, my accomplishments won by a strict parental direction (“You must succeed – your face is a different color in this small Cape Cod community!”). I am a product of poverty and discrimination from these two social and economic diseases. I, and my brothers and sisters, have painfully overcome, and to some extent we have earned the respect of our community. We are Indians first – but we are termed “good citizens.” Sometimes we are arrogant but only because society has pressured us to be so.

It is with mixed emotion that I stand here to share my thoughts. This is a time of celebration for you – celebrating an anniversary of a beginning for the white man in America. A time of looking back, of reflection. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People.

Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans. Mourt’s Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the Indians’ winter provisions as they were able to carry.

Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his Tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people.

Although the Puritans were harsh to members of their own society, the Indian was pressed between stone slabs and hanged as quickly as any other “witch.”What happened in those short 50 years? What has happened in the last 300 years? History gives us facts and there were atrocities; there were broken promises – and most of these centered around land ownership. Among ourselves we understood that there were boundaries, but never before had we had to deal with fences and stone walls. But the white man had a need to prove his worth by the amount of land that he owned. Only ten years later, when the Puritans came, they treated the Wampanoag with even less kindness in converting the souls of the so-called “savages.” Although the Puritans were harsh to members of their own society, the Indian was pressed between stone slabs and hanged as quickly as any other “witch.”

And so down through the years there is record after record of Indian lands taken and, in token, reservations set up for him upon which to live. The Indian, having been stripped of his power, could only stand by and watch while the white man took his land and used it for his personal gain. This the Indian could not understand; for to him, land was survival, to farm, to hunt, to be enjoyed. It was not to be abused. We see incident after incident, where the white man sought to tame the “savage” and convert him to the Christian ways of life. The early Pilgrim settlers led the Indian to believe that if he did not behave, they would dig up the ground and unleash the great epidemic again.

The white man used the Indian’s nautical skills and abilities. They let him be only a seaman — but never a captain. Time and time again, in the white man’s society, we Indians have been termed “low man on the totem pole.”

Has the Wampanoag really disappeared? There is still an aura of mystery. We know there was an epidemic that took many Indian lives – some Wampanoags moved west and joined the Cherokee and Cheyenne. They were forced to move. Some even went north to Canada! Many Wampanoag put aside their Indian heritage and accepted the white man’s way for their own survival. There are some Wampanoag who do not wish it known they are Indian for social or economic reasons.

What happened to those Wampanoags who chose to remain and live among the early settlers? What kind of existence did they live as “civilized” people? True, living was not as complex as life today, but they dealt with the confusion and the change. Honesty, trust, concern, pride, and politics wove themselves in and out of their [the Wampanoags’] daily living. Hence, he was termed crafty, cunning, rapacious, and dirty.

History wants us to believe that the Indian was a savage, illiterate, uncivilized animal. A history that was written by an organized, disciplined people, to expose us as an unorganized and undisciplined entity. Two distinctly different cultures met. One thought they must control life; the other believed life was to be enjoyed, because nature decreed it. Let us remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white man. The Indian feels pain, gets hurt, and becomes defensive, has dreams, bears tragedy and failure, suffers from loneliness, needs to cry as well as laugh. He, too, is often misunderstood.

The white man in the presence of the Indian is still mystified by his uncanny ability to make him feel uncomfortable. This may be the image the white man has created of the Indian; his “savageness” has boomeranged and isn’t a mystery; it is fear; fear of the Indian’s temperament!

Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece.High on a hill, overlooking the famed Plymouth Rock, stands the statue of our great Sachem, Massasoit. Massasoit has stood there many years in silence. We the descendants of this great Sachem have been a silent people. The necessity of making a living in this materialistic society of the white man caused us to be silent. Today, I and many of my people are choosing to face the truth. We ARE Indians!

Although time has drained our culture, and our language is almost extinct, we the Wampanoags still walk the lands of Massachusetts. We may be fragmented, we may be confused. Many years have passed since we have been a people together. Our lands were invaded. We fought as hard to keep our land as you the whites did to take our land away from us. We were conquered, we became the American prisoners of war in many cases, and wards of the United States Government, until only recently.

Our spirit refuses to die. Yesterday we walked the woodland paths and sandy trails. Today we must walk the macadam highways and roads. We are uniting We’re standing not in our wigwams but in your concrete tent. We stand tall and proud, and before too many moons pass we’ll right the wrongs we have allowed to happen to us.

We forfeited our country. Our lands have fallen into the hands of the aggressor. We have allowed the white man to keep us on our knees. What has happened cannot be changed, but today we must work towards a more humane America, a more Indian America, where men and nature once again are important; where the Indian values of honor, truth, and brotherhood prevail.

You the white man are celebrating an anniversary. We the Wampanoags will help you celebrate in the concept of a beginning. It was the beginning of a new life for the Pilgrims. Now, 350 years later it is a beginning of a new determination for the original American: the American Indian.

There are some factors concerning the Wampanoags and other Indians across this vast nation. We now have 350 years of experience living amongst the white man. We can now speak his language. We can now think as a white man thinks. We can now compete with him for the top jobs. We’re being heard; we are now being listened to. The important point is that along with these necessities of everyday living, we still have the spirit, we still have the unique culture, we still have the will and, most important of all, the determination to remain as Indians. We are determined, and our presence here this evening is living testimony that this is only the beginning of the American Indian, particularly the Wampanoag, to regain the position in this country that is rightfully ours.

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What Does It Mean To Be a Teacher?

Thoughts from a former teacher, from the blog, “Think well, live well, dine well.”

A few days ago there was a shooting outside the school where I used to work. I don’t know the details, all I know is that it was after school, so no kids were there, and that all of the teachers were still inside. My friends were in their professional development meeting when they heard the shots. The police then kept the school on lockdown for an additional 45 minutes to make sure that the area was safe for everyone to go home. Everyone was expected at school the next day.

Continue reading: “What Does It Mean to be a Teacher?”

Teacher’s Unions are Like All Teh Stoopid and Who Needs Educashun Anyway?

When you post on Facebook, a blog or any other public forum, you throw out your thoughts to the public, open for debate and discussion where ever it leads.  Based on the idea that you are the baddest ass in town and you got New Ideas that everyone should know, you post a comment.
So, when someone like myself comes and stumbles upon a killer of a post, hey why not capture that and repeat it right.  What an idea.  Maybe even some feedback might be come forth in the form of some blogger who just kind of likes to set things straight and can’t believe it when they hit upon something as good as this:
I should have become a teacher instead of a millwright…Average pay of $76,000 a year for working 40 hours a week 9 months out of the year and my union demands that I strike because a 16% pay raise (to $88k a year) over 4 years plus sterling silver retirement benefits isn’t enough…I make about a $100k a year now but I work 3000 hours a year for it and my pay IS dependent on the successful performance of my job…quite unlike the collective bargaining agreement for the Chicago teachers union.
Yes, even though this Millwright is a union millwright, posting on a Union Millwright page.  So we can presume that unless he pulled himself by his bootstraps for the last 100 years, the union had something to do with his pay.Last I knew all unions use collective bargaining, no?  According to this here report straight from the horse’s mouth, Millwrights have unions that exercise collective bargaining too!
Contrary to popular myth as well, usually said about all unions, union teachers are all just as duty bound to perform their job to standards agreed upon or they are out.  Evidenced though by this person’s thought processes, I would suggest that we reduce class size, stop allowing wingnuts to screen public school textbooks,  get back to teaching science instead of superstition and earn a living wage that is commensurate with where they live and most importantly what they do.

The Chicago teacher’s union currently in the headlines and, in my opinion every single other worker’s union comprised of those who work for the government, are not legitimate unions…They should receive no support whatsoever and, in fact, should be despised, derided, refuted, shot down, and ridiculed by our respective Millwright unions…

Yes, teachers, a part of that ugly liberal cabal we know as education! Our wonderful union man even suggests shooting them down.  Wow.  And he wants his Millwright brothers to get out there and show the rest of the brotherhood how its done.  Because apparently, if you don’t need an education to make nearly $100k a year, why the hell should anyone else have one?
How many of you enjoy reading in the headlines about how the ‘Teacher’s Union and unions in general are killing America’?
Yup and its all because of teacher’s unions.  Unable to grasp the larger goal of the theme presented there; that this union is bad so that means all unions are bad, he goes for the bait and decides he’s different and he’d better join forces with the anti-union crowd and stop out all those fake unions.  Because his taxes pay his wages.  Isn’t that rich?  This is a guy whose major forms of work are public works projects or public/private partnerships, highly regulated and yes, highly needed by that particular industry at the particular time that Millwrights come in and do their work.
See this deserves pointing out since our union man can’t seem to understand that nuclear plants, gas plants, refineries all get a lot of tax dollars. Yeah, our dollars. So I guess that means that me and a bunch of teachers should come in and tell him what his stupid Millwright job is worth.
Unfortunately, you’d half to have a brain enough to think far enough and understand that there’s a similar relationship between teachers and democracy.  Highly needed for that machine to work, so you’d think they’d be highly valued and thus highly paid.  Nope.  Unlike deep thinkers like union man, who seemed to have drowned in the shallow puddle that is their mind, local governments decide teacher salaries and local governments are usually headed up by people who aren’t teachers.
NO FUCKING WAY!
Believe it, I’m telling you.  They for city offices like city counsel or alderman, or school board that are for the most part, open public sessions.
NO FUCKING WAY!
And in fact, in those cities and towns, the people can get up, get in the streets and protest that teachers are just big mooching union thugs who should be paid like the teenager who last gave you your burger order. In fact it seems like the last couple years, your people have been at it already :
Of course we see evidence of towns where all the sensible people are running the school board or city council all the time.  Which proves as always that no one needs teachers and school is just a big waste of time.
The Teacher’s unions and other unions of government workers are giving the real unions in America a black eye and a bad name…Legitimate unions work for businesses and and corporations and bargain for a fair share of the profits that company makes. Unions of teachers and other government workers have no such concern, all of their money comes out of OUR pockets in the form of taxes…
Because his taxes pay their wages.  Isn’t that rich?  This is a guy whose major forms of work are public works projects or public/private partnerships, highly regulated and yes, highly needed by that particular industry and probably the public sector at the particular time that Millwrights come in and do their work.

See this deserves pointing out since our union man can’t seem to understand that nuclear plants, gas plants, refineries all get a lot of tax dollars. Yeah, our dollars. So I guess that means that me and a bunch of teachers should come in and tell him what his stupid Millwright job is worth.

This is not how it should be…compensation as well as as reforms on hiring and firing should be decided by the public who pay their salaries NOT by renegade unions who can strike and extort more and more power and money from those who pay their salaries. If we want better teachers to school our children it should be OUR decision and we should vote on it, not the result of an act of extortion holding the education of our children hostage…

At least not held hostage by the publicly elected school boards and city government, no way, they have their hands completely tied.  Since apparently the Millwright’s union at some point got someone’s hands tied at their industry and now they’re sucking out $100k wages!  The injustice!  Why, I’m sure that with a little on-the-job training, I could build a turbine and repair it and get a second job at Wal-Mart to boot if I want some luxury like paying my light bill.
I would ask of each of you in your next union meeting to call for a vote for condemning the teacher’s union strike and for issuing a public statement that your union does not support in any way the current strike in Chicago…It will probably get shot down but what the hell..
Yes, it will probably get shot down, just the way it is on that page, because thankfully there’s some union members who got a decent education from a union paid teacher.
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Save Public Education – The Core of Democracy!

Save Our Schools! Rally – September 22, 2012

Veteran’s Park, Manchester New Hampshire

4 – 6pm

For more info: See Facebook

The Corporate Education Reform Agenda

by Tom Crean for Socialist Alternative

It is becoming increasingly clear that the future for working class and poor youth in the United States is bleak. Three years into the most severe economic and social crisis of the capitalist system since the Great Depression, the unemployment rate for teenagers 16-19 years old is 26 percent. A recent study by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies points out that the employment-population ratio-the ratio of the number of people employed to the total working-age population- which is a broader measure of labor market health than the unemployment rate, has fallen by about 20 percentage points over the past decade to 25.6 percent for teenagers. This is a record low in the post World War II period.

The picture is even worse when looking at the situation for poor black and Latino youth. The employment-population ratio for African Americans ages 16 to 19 was 14.4 percent in July. Since middle class youth will still go to college and one way or another find their way into jobs, albeit perhaps jobs that pay less than the ones they would have expected to get in the past, the picture is not as grim for them. But a whole generation of poor youth now essentially has no experience of paid employment. This is truly a lost generation.

Why begin a discussion of the state of education with unemployment statistics? This is the right place to start because most people would agree that a key aim of education should be to prepare young people for a better life than their parents had. The corporate elite that dominates our society also looks at education in relation to the future, but from the more narrow perspective of training the next generation of workers.

Continue reading: Save Our Schools!

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