Half the teachers at my kids' school got pink-slipped.
You read that right. Half.
Some of those pink-slips MIGHT be rescinded, but they wouldn't have come at all if less than a handful of Republicans in the California State Assembly had allowed Gov. Brown to try to extend some tax increases that were due to expire, by holding a special election in June. They offered him the kinds of "compromises" that nobody should take -- gutting environmental regulations in the state was one of them, and by the way, dirty water and dirty air hurt kids too, not just cuts to education. The Gov. had already agreed to all sorts of cuts in programs that help the poor and the elderly, concessions to public employee unions, etc. But no, the greedy bastards couldn't muster a few votes, and now it's pink-slip time at LAUSD.
The principal told us the other night that class size could balloon to 29 kids per class in first grade. She MIGHT be able to buy some positions back -- if the parent association can raise, oh, say, a ballpark $200,000 more atop the $300,000 or so already raised, money that's supposed to cover the library, physical education, art, music, and teacher aides, as well as teachers already hired to keep fourth and fifth grade classes from ballooning past, um, 33 students. That's because LAUSD doesn't cover ANY of those things.
The pink slips are happening throughout LAUSD, and probably all over the state.
But no, Republicans wouldn't let the voters go to the polls and decide whether or not to extend tax increases that would have avoided all of this.
You can whine and stamp your feet and say Democrats in California spent too much money over the years. On some things, yes. But they also prioritized things like funding education, keeping the air and water clean, and trying to at least extend a safety net to people for health insurance.
The main reason everyone is suffering in California and every other state is that irresponsible types on Wall Street sold bad investments -- derivatives of crappy mortgages the banks shouldn't have given to begin with -- during the Bush years, when oversight was basically abandoned as a government policy, because the big corporations and investment banks that back Republicans don't like oversight. The two wars we got into -- and you can argue whether they were both necessary, don't get me started on that -- didn't help. But when the market got wise to those crappy deriviatives, the housing and stock markets crashed as a result, and the property taxes that are supposed to maintain our schools took a huge tumble.
Stop whining, people, about union pensions for public employees. Some may be bloated, sure, we should implement some pension reform, but they're a drop in the bucket compared to how Wall Street screwed us all.
Kanye West famously said, post-Katrina, that George Bush didn't care about black people. Well, it's pretty clear to me that Republicans don't care about kids. Just look at what's going on in D.C. The House is in Republican hands, and their Budget Chairman's budget proposal asks for: tax cuts to billionaires and big corporations, while drastically cutting programs for low and middle-income families. Two-thirds of the cuts the Republicans are proposing come from programs that serve low-income families, like health-care, nutrition, child care, home energy assistance, Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants (to help poor and middle class kids go to college), food stamps, Head Start, housing, and yes, K-12 education.
In Wisconsin, Republicans already outlawed the public employees' right to collective bargaining -- the main reason anyone joins a union, so they can make a living wage. Not get rich. Just live.
I'm tired of the Tea Partiers and Birthers and their holier-than-thou, righteous attitude about taxes, as if paying taxes, or God Forbid, paying MORE taxes, makes you a Socialist. You know what? Under Dwight Eisenhower, tax rates could go as high as 92% for the richest Americans, and he wasn't any kind of Socialist.
I pay my taxes, and I'd willingly pay more if it meant my kids' teachers could keep their jobs -- jobs that are so low-paying now, some of them are on the school lunch program. And yes, I think even if you DON'T have kids, you oughtta pay the same taxes I do. Because there's something called the social contract. It's not about handouts. It's not Socialism. It's about taking care of your neighbor so they don't fall into poverty. It's about something bigger than just you and your bank account. It's about responsibility to others. That's not socialism. That's having a heart.
Democrats gave us Social Security. Democrats gave us Medicare and Medicaid. Democrats defend the rights of workers to be in a union. And it's Democrats who try to keep our air and water clean. They're also trying to impose some consumer protection on banks and credit card companies, and yes, they're responsible for that healthcare bill that, oh, does things like allow me to keep my kids on my policy till they're 26, and keeps them-- and everyone else -- from being denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Some Democrats are in the pocket of corporations, sure; some are into earmarks and pork, and I wish they didn't compromise so much right out of the gate.
But one thing's for sure. Democrats -- at least most of them -- don't act like they hate our children. Republicans, on the other hand, it should be crystal clear to anyone who's even barely paying attention that they've declared war on kids. So as soon as any of you get the chance, please, I beg of you: Fire Them.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Half the teachers at my kids' school got pink-slipped.