"there may be trouble ahead...
...let's face the music and dance...
soon... we will be without the moon,
humming a different tune...
there may be tear drops to shed..."
playing on Dear America, a little Vic Damone to carry you into the weekend.
You know what shocks me, at the root of this power struggle going on in Wisconsin -- and leaping state lines like a wildfire out of control -- is the stark reality that our children have been cordoned off into a tinderbox, with sheer politics directing the flames.
What have our children truly gained over the last forty years? Honestly, ask yourself, as a whole, are our children getting smarter, or dumber? Are our children growing up kinder, or meaner? Have we taught them to be self-reliant individuals ready to leave a responsible, equitable, charitable, productive mark upon this world -- or, are we just making a generation of spoiled, techie, shallow, needy, loud, future leaders of America advocating the age of entitlement and social justice for all the wrong reasons, no matter the means?
Have we been throwing money at it, only to have it grow into a raging inferno, offering the very kindling needed to create a bureaucratic hell hole? Averaging a whole lot of money -- around seven or eight grand per student (without so much as the possibility to use a voucher system to actually go to the school of choice) -- I would have to say somebody is getting gypped.
With a wealth of highly educated teachers, facilities most countries would die for, communities fully committed to the responsibility of raising our children well (as it takes a village, you know), and local budgets aside, a federal budget that has grown from 12 B's to over 100 B's in a matter of only forty years -- just what has this picture so muddied, nearly extinguishing all signs of what it used to be?
You know why the teachers of Wisconsin are so dead set against losing a few of their collective bargaining rights? It is because remuneration would be tied to their performance, through heavy handed reforms tied to new rules for tenure, make raises based on merit (not seniority, or length of service), allow for vouchers (opening up the door to real competition in the education market), and simply give local jurisdictions more control over their own budgets, expenses, getting all the way down to the pencil and erasers. (You know, anymore, they can't even blame the rising costs of education on paper, as it is customary now to simply have the kids make their own copy of the materials at home!)
If teachers were on the right side of this argument, they would want what is best for the nation, and our students -- and that only comes with an environment that elevates and rewards higher levels of achievement and capabilities all the way around.
This, in a nutshell, is how the free market system works (when actually allowed to run free). For we very quickly lose the business, the enterprise, the chain store, if in fact the business wastes money, hires unqualified people, or simply has no idea what customer service truly means.
The thing is, how can a teacher NOT be for these kinds of reforms?
Shocking is the proficiency levels of reading: across the nation, "PROFICIENCY" (just above the "basic" level, where only a partial understanding of the subject has taken hold, and just under "advanced") is less than 50% in every state! Less than half of our children are coming out of the 8th grade considered "proficient!" And in the state of Wisconsin, only 37% are proficient, making nearly two-thirds of the entire student body within the state of cheese-heads not all that prepared for high school and beyond. And to be fair and balanced, my state, glorious California, is at a level simply too sad for words -- 22%.
What truly worries me, feeling in the thick of this nationwide conversation, realizing the duty of a Governor and state legislatures, such as in Wisconsin, is to collectively bargain for the rest of us -- is being totally, and thoroughly, mis-characterized; the voice of the taxpayer, shouldering the brunt of every single health benefit and pension fund for the pubic servant sector is being drowned out by vicious attacks, almost as an assault on the very privileges and duties this country was built.
All of a sudden we are being surrounded by people, congressmen even, who say things like this:
"Every once in a while you've got to
get out in the streets
and get a little bloody when necessary.
This fight is worth it."
To be fair, you did apologize... once you realized the comment got you into a lot of hot water...but seriously, is this where our country is headed -- when faced with challenges that upon first glance seem insurmountable, a divide to wide to give it our very best...
is this what we want to teach our children?
that when the going gets tough, when trouble stares us right in the face, we yell and scream and call each other names, even promoting incivility, and "[getting] a little bloody" if we have to?
that when we are stuck on the losing end of an issue within one of our state houses, we just flee, instead of facing the music and dance? (Considering you are being paid to show up and vote and debate and be a voice of the people, not sure how leaving does anyone any good...unless it is all for show and tell.)
that when the opposition party takes the lead, we simply decide to pick up our toys and go home? (If the GOP was carrying on like this, you would have our @ss alongside the tater tots for lunch...)
that when we are in the midst of reconciling overbearing, overzealous, over-compensated benefit packages and the bottom line, ones that can cripple and even topple entire state budgets, that when honest to goodness pull back must take place, the first response is to walk off the job you are being paid to do.
...and paid very well actually
...and with not a whole lot to show for it
...is that the image and message you feel entitled to make in front of our children? (It must be, as many of you pulled our children out of school to help you with your cause.)
Curious as to why every state is not a "right to work" state by now -- I mean, come on, with so much emphasis on freedom of choice these days, how can it be possible for a job to obligate a certain amount of hard earned dough towards an agenda that runs counter to the very principles this country was made, and specifically one's own? Last I checked, we have never really wanted to be anywhere close to resembling a communist/socialist/body of citizens of the state -- as in the bigger State, the Capitalist State -- which, by the way things are shaking out, our Union leaders would have us believing otherwise. hello...we are not Venezuela.
What we should be teaching our children is that we can't have it both ways --
With freedom and liberty, comes freedom and liberty for all; the system in play here, will run us right smack into a wall of fire, and a state of affairs elevating the very thing most of us would not wish upon our worst enemy -- as we will forever be divided by the Haves and the Have-Nots.
....there will be no state legislature worth a grain of salt; we are a Republic for a reason -- a democracy is simply a nice way of saying mob rule -- and that is exactly what we see happening outside the legislature in Wisconsin... and Cairo, and Jordan, and Bahrain)
...there will be no middle class at all, let alone a teacher left scrambling through the means of collective bargaining for less practice and more boycott privileges, for we will have been devoured by the beast of burden.
...the privileged elites will control everything and everything we know and love about this land will have evaporated into thin air; America, by definition, in principle and in practice, will be gone.
With freedom and liberty, comes our inherent duty and responsibility; the system in play here, over the last hundred years, has whittled away at the true power of the people, we the people, in incremental, almost unnoticeable ways; instead of raising our children to understand and respect the rule of law, the law of this land, we have encouraged subverting the rule, to undermine the Constitution and our Declaration of Independence -- just what kind of independence are we making now?
...instead, we witness, bellowing out of our schools and universities, a generation plum ignorant, even combative towards, the force of nature from which we came; there is no connection made between freedom and duty; there is no connection made between the planting of the seed of common sense, self-reliance, and free enterprise and a history of prosperity, charity and grace.
...what we have building, in clouds of black smoke, is a sense of being entitled to the freedom, without effort; what we have building, in heated fits and starts, is a sense of being liberated, without reflection of how that very liberty is cultivated, nourished and ultimately blossoms into a rich and diverse society synonymous with America.
...for true freedom only comes with great courage, convictions, a moral code of honor between people, a respect of property and privileges, a loving charitable heart, and a commitment to the process of the rule of law to keep us safe, protected, and led with integrity from coast to coast. While, in truth, our freedoms are not bestowed upon us by our government at all; the only entity we have to thank for our freedoms and liberties is our Creator (look it up, I dare you)
Freedom is far from being free; it costs us in devotion, beginning with our early education and mastering our understanding throughout our entire adult life; recognizing how civilizations come and go empowers us not to make the same mistakes and fosters a fundamental belief that we are special...here..in America ; while our founders realized all too well, we could very well lose it all, if one day we turned around having taken it all for granted, like foolish kids.
But above all, as we watch the world explode all around us, freedom is something much like our children -- it is SOMETHING, a real thing -- a marvelous, living, breathing, beautiful thing, to be cherished; if we do not raise our children to respect their very own freedom, and realize, just what this asks of them in return (as well as know the difference between a freedom, a privilege, and a right), who will?
I seriously question the value of our current educational system -- I question it's latitudes -- I question it's entitlements -- I question it's motives -- I question it's priorities -- I question every single dime that falls that way.
When we truly know what is at stake, the answers will come to us with ease...
Until then...there may be trouble ahead, there may be tear drops to shed...let's face the music and dance.
Make it a Good Day, G