Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why I Support Unions

My family lives in a pretty nice home. We have two decent cars. I never have to struggle to put food on the table. Heck, we even get to eat out once in a while. In other words, we are part of a cherished but rapidly dwindling middle class. We live here, love here, pray here, pay taxes here, and have built our futures here. We were able to build this American dream of a life primarily because my wife and I are both union members.

My father was a dock worker. He spent about ten years loading and unloading ships. It was punishing work for paltry pay. Then one day, a minor miracle happened. He landed a job with a utility company--a unionized job. Despite the fact that he never finished high school himself, my father was able, thanks to the decent pay and benefits his union job offered him, to raise our family. He didn't make that much, but it was enough to pay the rent and for him to retire with dignity once his health began to deteriorate. He spent only two months in retirement before he passed away. Nevertheless, my mother received his pension benefits and was able to keep the house together. I was even able to go to college and become a teacher, all because my dad was treated like a human being as a result of his union membership and benefits.

That's what unions are about. No one gets rich in them, but everyone who puts in a good day's work can rest assured that he or she will be entitled to a little piece of the American Dream. Union members work with dignity in the knowledge that they won't be assigned to the garbage heap should they be injured on the job or fired by the capricious whims of a vengeful, racist, or sexist boss. Unions allow regular people to build their lives without fear of those lives being destroyed for no good reason.

This country was built on the middle class, and the middle class was built on unions. While the millionaires and billionaires pride themselves as the masters of this country, it is the union workers who built it, protect it, and serve it.

There are those who would like to deny us the most basic of rights: to organize so that we can speak with one voice in the halls of power and wealth. The powers that be would love to strip us of that right because it would allow them to reduce this country to two classes: the uber-rich and the voiceless, working poor. Not content to have the vast lion's share of this country's wealth, these million and billionaires would love to get even richer by dismantling the pension and health benefits that workers have negotiated for over the last century. They'd like nothing better than to privatize every public institution--especially schools--so that they can get their paws on public money. Unions are all that stand in their way.

Perhaps anti-union politicians like Scott Walker and Chris Christie have overstepped this time. They have painted union workers as the "haves" and everyone else as the "have nots". The truth is that these politicians and billionaires are the true "haves" in this country, and people are starting to realize it. I know that unions will be at the forefront of making that point.

If you hate unions, think what this country would be without them. Health benefits would disappear for the sake of corporate profits. Work days and work weeks would be extended to whatever bosses wanted. You'd be "replaced" regularly--probably as soon as you opened your mouth or began making a decent salary. And retirement? Forget it. Your penion would be gone, and you wouldn't be able to stop working until you'd saved enough to pay for your own funeral.

That's why I support unions.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mr. Talk Shoots for the Big Time

I don't know if you've heard, but GothamSchools is hiring! This is huge news for a small time blogger like me--my chance to make the big time! I hope you, my faithful readers, won't mind if I audition right here?

I know the three of you are skeptical. I can hear you thinking: "Mr. Talk writing for Gotham? Why, he's pro-union, anti-Unity, and borderline socialist!" Never fear. I'm willing to be employed by a hedge fund manager for a price, which is one of the main qualifications for this gig.

Let's start with my version of the Remainders, in which GS does the daily roundup of news.


  • A new study says that teachers suck. (WSJ)
  • No, really. (Post)
  • An education expert from TFA with nearly three weeks of teaching experience speculates that value-added is the way to go. (The Illinois Right Leaning Testicle)
  • Tenure or global warming: Which will cause civilization to collapse quicker? (The Obvious Intelligencer)
  • A teacher somewhere in the known world made inappropriate remarks to a student. (World Weekly News)
  • We mean teachers really suck! (Post)
  • Mayor Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and Whitney Tilson announced a new initiative to ensure that every child knows that they are really, really rich. (Forbes)
  • Eva Moskowitz defended her decision to take over a public school at gunpoint and convert it to a charter by saying it's "for the children!" (Jejune Journal)
  • Rupert Murdock stated that "heads will roll" after it was discovered that today's edition of the Post contained only two editorials blasting LIFO. (Post)
  • We mean they bite the big one! (DN)

Of course, there's more to GS than aggregating news. There's also the community section, and I'm sure candidates for staff writer will be expected to contribute to that, as well. For my audition piece, I decided I could follow no wiser course than to emulate my hero and award winning blogger, Ruben Brosbe.


Blame It All on Me
By Mr. Talk

I got my teacher data report today, and boy, was I disappointed! For all the good I did, they may as well have put a tree stump at my desk! Until today, I assumed that all teacher data reports must contain positive integers. Was I ever wrong!

I wanted to reflect on my abject failure, so I added an extra thirty minutes to my self-flagellation routine this morning in hopes of finding an answer, but to no avail. So I went to visit my assistant principal to see if she had any insights. She said I was an abhorrent worm and a stain on the face of humanity, and of course I agreed. But wasn't there more to it than that? I must be doing something wrong!

I analyzed my workday and got a real surprise. It turns out that I am not using my time to best advantage. For example, I usually go pee twice a day during school hours. That's a full four minutes that I am not spending with my deserving children! I knew I needed to pee faster, and I discovered that if I scrunched up my face and visualized senior teachers floating in the urinal, I could cut 45 seconds off my time. Still, it wasn't enough, so I self-inserted a catheter and attached the other end to an empty hot water bottle that I duct taped to my leg.

Some of my colleagues tell me not to be so hard on myself. They point to the troubled home lives of some of my students, such as the boy who set my trousers on fire last week. But those are just excuses. If I hadn't been wearing flammable pants, it would never have happened! Please leave encouraging comments below that fully express your pity for me as I confront my ineptitude. In the meantime, I will be working tirelessly to get you fired.

So, that's my audition. Philissa Cramer, I'm waiting on your call!


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Speech Obama Should Have Made...

...has already been made by Dennis Kucinich. Watch the video of what Obama should have said. Also, here's something Dennis said about Obama and Wisconsin:

"Where is he? He made a statement that he's standing behind the workers - he should be standing in front of them... There's too much wall street influence - & it's reflected in his reticence to show up with people protesting corporate policy..."

Great questions. Great man.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Am I The Only One....

...who thinks that comfortable shoes aren't the only thing Barack Obama needs a pair of?


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

NEW South Bronx School Radiocast Tonight


On Tuesday, March 8 @ 9PM EST we welcome Brian Backstrom of the Foundation for Education Reform and Accountability; http://www.nyfera.org/ Call in # is 917 932 8721 Brian Backstrom is Vice President of the Foundation for Education Reform & Accountability.

Monday, March 7, 2011

E4E Values Experience!

It's true! The folks over at Asshats4Education really do value experience! When it comes to their own hiring requirements, anyway.

A4E is looking for a Temporary Outreach Director. Let's ignore for a moment how a "grassroots" organization like A4E, run by two part time teachers, can afford to hire its own director of anything (cough*gates*cough). What's more interesting still is the qualifications list for the job:

• Bachelor’s degree and at least 2 years of professional experience, either in education or community/campaign organizing
• Previous experience in a classroom strongly preferred
• Strong oral and written communication skills, including experience in preparing and delivering public presentations

I'm surprised that A4E doesn't just hire people fresh out of Barnard, like themselves. What happened to all that talk about hiring people with new ideas?

And while we're at it, what does this job pay? Read for yourself:

Salary: Commensurate with Experience

Uhmmmm...what??? Salary based on experience and not on merit? Looks like they forgot to mention the most important qualification of all for this job:

Experience sticking your head far up your ass and ignoring reality.

Ruben? If that teaching gig doesn't work out....


Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Must Read

You have to read this piece on how to extend your school career from Arthur Goldstein in the Huffington Post. If you like great writing with your ed-u-commentary, you won't want to miss it.