Sunday, June 19, 2011

Week Three Hours & Thoughts on the Private Sector


It's been a busy week, but not necessarily as a teacher. Work around the house and time with friends dominated this week, which is good. It's what summer should be. So, here's the video for this week. Be warned that my thoughts on business are more political than I normally care to be. However, I'm happy with how it turned out.

It does run a bit long though, so in case you get tired of watching me talk I've included the script.


First off, I want to wish everyone a happy Father’s Day. Dad, if you’re watching, I love you. There. It’s on the internet…can’t take it back.

Secondly, my hour count for the week. It was a little slower this week as I visited with friends and worked around the house. The hours breakdown as seen here.

I spent some time in the building moving books, shelves, and discussing text options. I also spent some time reading The Book Thief, which was excellent. It gave me a few ideas about both reading comprehension and writing techniques, such as mixing first person and third omniscient.

Lastly, I wanted to spend some time this week discussing the private sector. This year especially saw a chasm grow between public and private employees, with fights in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Rhode Island to name a few. During the height of state budget seasons teachers were portrayed by select politicians and media outlets as lazy, greedy, and unsympathetic to the plight of American workers everywhere.

There are so many responses I could have to that it’s hard to begin. Let me first allude to one of my favorite comedians Conan O’Brian. As he left the Tonight Show he asked those watching to be kind, to work hard, and to avoid being cynical. That’s the philosophy behind this project, and behind myself, and so let me say the following in all honesty and without a hint of postulating.

I get it. America is in the worst economic state since our Great Depression, a state that is mirrored throughout many nations worldwide. Jobs are disappearing, what money we have is worth less than it used to be, and staples for life are rising. As a nation we’re scared and we’re angry.

Teachers are not unaware of this. Our family, our friends work amongst you. We fear for the sustainability of their jobs as much as our own. While we may not find fulfillment in sales, insurance, or producing widgets we understand that these are necessary for society, and are thus noble as well. Quality lies within the person, not the position they hold.

Our positions are not so different right now. I don’t mean to compare the minutia of our careers, but rather where we find ourselves in the public forum.

Because we have put off regulating ourselves we now find ourselves at the hands of the American public, who are angry that we’ve tacitly protected those who have performed their jobs poorly and reflected that upon our profession.

We both face stiff competition from overseas. There seems to be a never ending supply of cheap foreign labor ready to take your job, or dramatically alter your position in the company. While teachers are not often outsourced we are now being constantly compared to teachers who work in very different cultures, have different expectations, and are compensated differently.

Lastly, there’s just not enough money right now. If we had more, we could do more. Be more productive, produce a higher quality product, and in turn invest our money into each other. Critics blame unions, regulations, or pay structures. They point out (in truth) that we’re working with more money than we have in the past, but they don’t know or care where that money has gone.  We know the kernel of truth in their arguments can not possibly sow true and lasting reform.

And yet, we’ve let ourselves turn against each other. Your tax dollars fund our jobs, and in turn we educate your children. We provide a public service that we believe is valuable, whether or not you have children yourself.

We hope to provide a high quality service that is egalitarian in nature. We know that’s not the truth, be we hope that through public education the poor and rich, white and black, or any other dichotomy you can name will be given an equal shot for success.

Our service creates citizens who not only purchase your products and services, but will work for you in time. The private sector has the most to gain from a highly educated and motivated populace. Think of it as long term investing in human capitol.

I believe in public education. I believe in private enterprise. And while our work is more alike than we may realize they should stay separate. While private, parochial, or home schooling are options that should exist we should dedicate ourselves to rejuvenating, reforming, and refunding public schools.

You want a “world class education” for your kids. You get what you pay for. Taxes need to be raised. We need more teachers and we need to be paid more. Yes, we get into teaching for the children, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a living wage. If we work as many hours as those with similar education and experience levels why should it matter if we do it twelve months or in ten?

I want corporations that protect American jobs. Corporations that act ethically, environmentally friendly, and have much less disparity in wages. Corporations that pay their taxes. Corporations that are able to work with unions and government regulation. Yes, they slow progress and profit, but they protect us from our own avarice and haste.  Corporations to create jobs through the strength of their products and services, not by the strength of their political connections.

I know that corporations and small businesses like that may require tax incentives on a local, state, and national level. I’m o.k. with that. I view it as a long term investment in National capitol.

Next week I’ll be back with more hours and more thoughts on public education. Have a good week everyone! 

So, what do you think? What is the current relationship of private & public sectors in America? How can they work together towards the common goals we should both have? Comment away, and enjoy your week!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chuck- My dad just showed me your project. The funny thing is that he found out about it from a teacher he knows in another state who had no idea that my dad would know who you are. It's awesome that the word is getting out about it!

    I'm glad to see that you're still as committed to education, the kids, and justice as ever. I wasn't at all surprised to hear that you were doing this. Of course I'm not a teacher, I'm a social worker, but I'm behind you 100 percent and look forward to following along with your project!