Wednesday, January 03, 2007

They pay you to picket, right?

Strike rumblings are going around. We want bigger salaries, so we just stop coming to work until we get them. How weird is that?

It's not that I don't support the union. I come from a non-union state where salaries are pathetically low and I didn't have vision or dental insurance. I appreciate what the union has done for teachers in LA Unified. But sometimes I think people complain too much.

What happens to the kids? They're already so far behind. What if this strike drags on for weeks? Sometimes I think people forget why we're here.

Then I look around. My first period freshman English class has 41 students. Forty-one. I have 31 seats.

I found out what I was teaching this semester about an hour before the kids walked in the room.

We have no art supplies and most of us have to pack up every eight weeks and move to another classroom. Some days we stay in lock down for hours because rumor has it some gang kid plans to ambush another at lunch. One fight always begets another.

Plus, Little Round Boy is back. With a vengeance.

But my salary increase won't change that. I guess it makes it easier to deal with. Rent did just go up all over the city and I do have my debt to pay down, so of course I could use the money. I guess it could pay for a vacation that allows me to stay sane enough to keep going to work every day.

But it doesn't matter what I think. I'll strike if there's a strike because it's required. I think your union rep comes to your house and beats you with sticks if you don't obey the strike. It's like I pay a protection fee to the mafia.

A friend of mine is a substitute. If we don't work, she doesn't work, but she's not on salary.

"Doesn't that mean you get more work?" I asked. Apparently when you scab you get paid a ton. But she's not crossing that picket line.

In the end, though, it's not the union's fault. It's rich people's fault. Pay your freaking taxes, Richard Hatch. Imagine how much better our education system would be if all the people who got unnecessary plastic surgery this year bought a school some textbooks instead.


  1. Tough situation, I hope it doesn't drag on and on.

  2. Anonymous9:38 AM

    You said,
    "In the end, though, it's not the union's fault. It's rich people's fault. Pay your freaking taxes, Richard Hatch. Imagine how much better our education system would be if all the people who got unnecessary plastic surgery this year bought a school some textbooks instead."

    I enjoy the pop culture aspect of your blog as well as the travails of being a public school teacher and aspiring screenwriter but its rich peoples fault?

    You might want to stick to that or take a course in economics and politics as well as philosophy before macho flashing liberal pablum about rich people being at faul;t for everything in this country.

    Now I have no brief for the rich, other than I would like to be one one day, but I do have a brief for the economy. Taxing the rich would harm the economy and dumping money on a wasteful public institution, other than salaries for yourself and your fellow teachers to attract and retain quality teachers, would be of little benefit. What, more money for textbooks so the kids can destroy them through neglect or malice. More for overpaid administrators who make your life miserable, more for bizarre curriculum that doesnt work? Is that what you want more for?

    If you are rich in CA. You pay about 33% in federal income taxes and another 10-11% in state taxes as well as property and sales taxes? How much should the rich pay? 60% of their income 70%? maybe we could go back to the FDR days of 90%. What if the government took 90% of YOUR money for a "good cause" like the Iraq War or Health care or education or AIDS research or whatever? Would that be moral? Would it be practical? After all you would have less money to buy pizzas which is the industry that keeps me in stiches. Then I will have to go on a government program. Great we can call it Blakeonomics.

    Read Atlas Shrugged to your students it will give you and your students something to think about.

  3. It's up to you. You have plenty of money to buy eight expensive cars you don't need. So you go to your accountant and let him figure how you can keep more money so you can buy your cars. The education system is in shambles. Kids don't learn, they drop out, they can't make it in college, they grow up to be America's work force.

    Good for you. Your kids with the expensive private education will be happy to know that they can then hire the poor kids' poor kids to wash their eight cars.

    You think rich kids have 41 in a class? You think they have no access to a computer lab? You think they ever have to deal with having to read a novel in photocopy because the school can't afford to buy enough copies of the book? You think they have enough tape? Index cards? Post-it notes?

    Yeah. Ayn Rand had it all figured out. The rich sure do deserve it. If the poor kids can't hang it must be because they're lazy and destructive. It has nothing to do with the opportunities they've been afforded.

    It's not rich people alone. It's administrative. It's people who have no experience in education thinking they know what they're talking about and making policies we all have to follow. It's community. In the case of my kids, it's largely parents how don't speak much English.

    But it's also money and the attitude that comes from people who have it and think that poor people should just suck it up. Have you actually seen the ghetto, Anonymous? If that is your real name. Do you go there? You think you'd have any chance at owning eight cars if you grew up there?

  4. Anonymous11:55 AM

    There you go again.

    Seriously in the spirit of goodwill and dispasionate public policy debate. I am not agianst providing an adequate free public education for kids rich or poor.

    we agree that you should have textbooks and materials as well as higher pay for doing what you do, that is not our disagreement. Our point of contention is the MEANS of achieving the goal. I just think saying something like "tax the rich" is so flip and unexamined, that it is lame. Hence why I responded. I dont mean to be personal.

    This is the bottom line we spend almost $7000 per year per student. How your broke-dick district decides to spend it is another question, they can waste it and then bellyache about inequity, lame, or they can husband those resources carefully do the best they can and if it is not enough then they can ask for more.

    Lets do the math 200 students at $7000 per year is 1.4 million a year, OK (please check my math, i went to publik scool).

    6 teachers with MA degrees @ $80,000 per year to teach= $480,000

    2 secretaries for gossiping $40,000= 80,000

    1 principal for whatever they do @ 120,000

    2 dean/counselor for discpline and counseling @ 80,000= $160,000

    $200,000 for books and supplies
    thats only $1,040,000 or so

    we still $360,000 in reserve for whatever

    if thats not the education we are getting we need to ask why? CAUSE THATS THE EDUCATION WE ARE PAYING FOR! if the kids aint getting that dont say tax the rich say where are the resources we get going? are they being spent wisely? etc.

    For the record I am not rich, I deliver pizzas and aspire to higher goals like you, maybe "rich districts" manage their budgets better than your District, maybe they have better priorities, maybe.

    or maybe the rich all cheat on their taxes and should pay 90%. maybe screen writers should pay 90% of their income in the name of "equality" or "the poor", like I said rich people buy my pizzas and give me tips what am I gonna do when Im out of a job cause nobody except teachers or textbook publishers or contractors in Iraq get all that money and then ask for more, can buy pizzas.

    so lets recap: we agree kids need to be educated
    we disagree about how the money is being spent and whether you really need more money to do your job. that all. I disagree with you i dont hate you, you seem like a wity and nice attractive woman. Cant we all get along.

  5. I don't remember saying you hated me. I don't know you. You won't even tell me your name.

    For the record, I don't know any teachers who make $80,000. I have a masters degree and I don't even make close to that. And if you read my post you know that I don't think my salary is not connected to the school's success unless it helps me with my sanity.

    The secretaries at our school work their asses off, as do our administrators.

    Perhaps I should clairfy. What bothers me is people who talk about what a crap state our education system is in and then bitch about having to pay taxes. People whow resent giving money to the education system and try to get out of it any way they can so they can buy more crap they don't need. Selfish people. People who yap on and on about the solution to what's wrong with education in this country but have no actual experience in either education or with at-risk kids.

    Selfishness. It bothers me. And That's pretty much Ayn Rand's motto, so I guess we'll just have to disagree. I have a belief that is you benefit form society you should give back. I can't make you, but it would sure be nice. It would make my job a hell of a lot easier.

  6. That's right. I don't proofread before posting. So what? Want to fight about it?

  7. Anonymous1:40 PM

    Its ok, as mine is riddled with errors, i am not a grammar fascist. :)

  8. Anonymous1:47 PM

    one more thing, if you dont make $80,000 a year, YOU SHOULD thats my point. the fact that you dont isnt because the "rich" dont pay taxes its because your district WASTES money. I know next you will tell that your school and district are models of economy and efficiency and dont "waste" money, right? I think you get my point, I hope so. peace


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