A Teachable Moment

Former local teacher union pesident Morty Rosenfeld periodically attempts to make sense of the increasingly senseless world of public education.

Tax Bill a Shot at Public Education

I’ve seen little in the criticism of the Republican’s legislation to redistribute income to the wealthiest Americans about the threat it poses to the financing of public education. Limiting the deductibility of state and local taxes and mortgage interest payments will have a profoundly negative effect on the ability of school districts to raise the revenue necessary to maintain quality. Under the current federal tax law, there has been a growing reluctance of people to shoulder an ever growing property tax burden leading to support for property tax caps in states like New York and California.

The deductibility of state and local taxes and mortgage interest has been part of a conscious federal effort to encourage home ownership. Had these policies not been put in place, our suburbs would undoubtedly look very different than they do today. Removing these inducement to home ownership will not only make the already difficult job of financing public education in our suburbs more difficult, it will probably also slow or end the appreciation of real estate in suburban communities, further enraging homeowners as the equity in their houses fails to meet their expectations.

There is no doubt about it. This so-called tax reform redistributes income upwards while it takes a retributive shot at blue states that support public education and quality government services.

I’m off to California for a few says. I’ll be back here on the 27th.

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Diversity and School Calendars

For most of my career teaching in suburban Long Island, there was always a yearly struggle to build the school calendar for the following school year. This entailed balancing the demands of religious constituencies for their holidays off along with the overarching needs of parents and staff for the longest possible spring, winter and February breaks. Some of the hardest feelings were generated by the slightest adjustments to the school calendar that were perceived by one group or another as an intentional slight. Over the years, superintendents of schools and boards of education have bowed to political pressures and increased the number of school holidays, attempting to assuage bad feelings but making it increasingly difficult to construct a school calendar.

In recent years, our community has grown more diverse, with an influx of Asian immigrants of varying ethnicity and religion. It’s not surprising, therefore, that they have begun to exert political pressure for the inclusion of their holidays into the school calendar. Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists have holidays which in their home countries are days of celebration free from work and school. Their rights to their holidays are no less than the majority’s. How should a secular institution respond to the growing demands for religious days off?

Most people will accept a school calendar that is objectively fair. Most, in an arrangement that is fair, will accept the loss of some holidays they currently have, holidays that their religious leaders teach can be observed without refraining from work and school. It should be possible to bring the leaders of the various groups together and negotiate an understanding that gives every constituency what they must agree is a fair number of holidays when school is closed. Possible doesn’t mean that is will be easy. It surely won’t, but the alternative to building such a consensus is much worse. People who feel themselves aggrieved don’t go away. Their grievances are magnified the more reasonable accommodations of their needs are not met. This would be an excellent time for the leaders of the majority faiths in our community to come forward and lead the way to a solution that all community members may not like but have to admit is fair.

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The Party of Reactionaries

It’s disturbingly fascinating to watch the Republican Party become the home of white reactionaries, people for whom the pace of change of modern life threatens their very identity. Faced with the fact that white people will soon be a minority, challenged by the demands of women for political and economic equality, revolted by a world in which gender boundaries are adumbrated, aghast at a country that grows progressively more secular and terrified by an economy that technologically displaces workers faster than they can be retrained, today’s Republicans increasingly appear to embrace an authoritarianism predicated on blood and soil. They want to believe that they can wall off the United States from the modern world and its threats to their way of life, decadent though it may be. This retreat from modernity has been going on for some time. Donald Trump didn’t invent it. He just saw in it an opportunity to be exploited. In Alabama, Roy Moore’s supporters will vote for a child molester rather than chance the possibilities of progressive change.

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ConCon Gave Us an Organizing Success

The vote against holding a constitutional conventional in New York was over 80 percent – 80 percent! That massive outpouring of voters is largely attributable to the efforts of the state’s unions that both educated their memberships to the dangers posed by a convention and organized them to work against it. The work to defeat the convention was the best union organizing we’ve seen in a long time. It should serve as an example to a weakened labor movement of what can still be done when memberships are led to take on difficult issues that threaten them.

The kind of effort that went into the defeat of the constitutional convention can and must be replicated to insulate ourselves from the threat of the loss of agency fee and due s deduction. Why hasn’t every public sector union developed an organizing campaign against the worst possible outcomes of an adverse decision in the Janus Case currently before the Supreme Court? Why aren’t plans in place to protect our unions from the loss of dues deduction? Why do we appear to be accepting the conventional wisdom that says that public sector unions can expect to lose upwards of 30 percent of their membership from an adverse decision in Janus?

Before I left office in my local, I started a process of signing members up each year in anticipation the real possibility of losing agency fee. My local has continued that process. Should we lose agency fee tomorrow, 100 percent of our members are signed up for next year. The card signing process in addition to protecting the local has served to educate members to the ongoing threat from the so-called Right to Work Movement to eviscerate what remains of our labor movement so as to strip from American workers the rights and protections a century or more of union struggle has provided. It is additionally empowering to a membership to know that they have collectively worked to protect themselves. That membership success makes it easier to organize the next collective effort.

The constitutional convention issue awakened the organizing talents of our unions. Those talents must now be unleashed on the continuing existential threats before us.

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The High Tech Swindle

The November 3rd New York Times carried a front page article entitled “How Silicon Valley Plans to Conquer the Classroom.” The article, while focused on the Baltimore County schools, exposes the massive sales campaign of America’s high tech companies to infiltrate the public school market, using marketing ploys similar to those used by the drug companies on physicians on public school decision makers. Trips, meals and other ethically challenged ploys are used to convince school leaders of the necessity of massive investments in computers and software despite the fact that there is almost no hard evidence that these technology expenditures have any positive effect on student learning.

The publication of this article is a sign of the growing awareness of the abject stupidity of contemporary education policy that has witnessed massive expenditures of public funds on the fool’s errand of attempting to keep our schools equipped with the latest technological devices in the belief that we are preparing students for the jobs of the future. Once hooked on being technologically current, school districts effectively surrender significant portions of their tight budgets to high tech peddlers. Even more significantly and essentially unappreciated, they surrender control of what and how children are taught to corporate decision makers rather than knowledgeable and experienced educators.

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Helping Young Immigrants Fit In

The emerging picture of Sayfullo Saipov is of an immigrant who comes to the United States with great expectations but whose dreams rapidly fade as he cannot seem to fit in to a society so fundamentally different from his own. Trained in Uzbekistan for the hotel industry and never being able enter that business here, Saipov bounces around from place to place driving trucks for his living and said to be growing angrier and angrier as his need to feel he belongs leads him to a distorted understanding of Islam.

The human desire to fit in is embedded in our DNA. People who are unable to fit into the mainstream of society will usually find some other niche, the need to belong overpowering their powers of judgment, particularly in the young. My impression is that we do a very poorer job of acculturating immigrant young people to our society. Walk into the cafeteria of any American public high school with immigrant students and you will see kids grouping themselves by their ethnicity. While they do so out of a natural inclination to belong, we ought to be imaginatively structuring their school experience to have them interacting with American kids throughout their school day, giving them positive experiences that bring them a growing sense of being American. We ought to be talking to them from the time they arrive in our schools about aiming to become U.S. citizens, guiding them on the steps to citizenship. To the extent this is happening at all, it is the result of the altruism of some good teachers and administrators. However, we need to make it a core mission of our public schools.

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Remembering

For years, I’ve counseled against using union war stories to attempt to acculturate new members to the union cause. Yet, that’s exactly what I found myself doing on Saturday. Along with my friend Ken Ulric, a former union president too, I met with three groups of Long Island union representatives to talk about the early days of teacher unionism on Long Island. These representatives had spent their morning listening to and questioning presenters on the problems related to an impending decision in the Janus Case, an expected Supreme Court decision that will abridge public sector unions’ right to collect agency fees and potentially requiring them to re-sign members up each year.

Ken and I had a very good time recalling the birth of our movement. Comments from the audience seemed to suggest that they found our remembrances of things past interesting. Yet in the end, I find myself depressed by the experience and left wondering how it is that a movement that was birthed by such creative spirit and energy could have decayed to the point where the threat of the loss of agency fee is seen to pose an existential threat to our organizations.

Clear to me from talking to some of the workshop participants is that union militancy today is wearing a tee shirt with a union message on it, turning out to a meeting of a board of education or filing a grievance. The idea of asserting our collective power to advance our union agenda appears to be unthinkable. I’m not even sure we have an agenda beyond organizational survival. When I expressed the belief that school principals serve at the pleasure of the staff in the building, workshop participants looked at me as though I were joking. When I went on to explain that I had organized numbers of successful campaigns to rid our district of administrators who treated us badly, I had the distinct impression that many in the audience thought I was fabricating a union tale. No wonder we have contracts that remain unsettled six, eight even ten years. No wonder that signing members up each year is seen as a herculean task, one doomed to significant failure.

I hope I’m wrong about the state of our movement. I hope the Janus Case will serve as a challenge to a new generation of public sector unionists who will meet the challenge head on and emerge from it with a renewed sense of their power to shape their work-life. I hope we can go from a talking union to one of direct action, one in which members are willing to struggle and fight not only to preserve what we have won but to reclaim their right to participate in determining the quality of their time at work.

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They Want to Wire the Students Now

The search for the magic bullet that will enable all students regardless of their genes, socio-economic background, parenting and physical and mental health to achieve equally is rapidly reaching the creepily absurd. News that the Edsurge Company is in talks with a Long Island school district to collect the brain waves of students in the hope of improving their education is but the latest attempt by the corporate to exploit public education. First they convinced us to wire our schools. Now they want to wire the children too.

I’d love to know which 21st century educator superintendent agreed to talk to Edsurge. If any of my readers know, please contact me at mrosenfeld@pobct.org.

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Undue Influence of the Rich

Rich people automatically seem to assume that their economic success is evidence that they possess superior knowledge on all subjects. A significant portion of the public unfortunately seems to agree. It’s the modern iteration of Calvinist elect theology in which God’s grace is evidenced by human success. Perhaps one of the few good things to come from the Trump presidency will be a broad appreciation that rich people can be complete idiots.

I’m prompted to think about the undue influence of the rich in affairs about which they know nothing after reading about Bill Gates’ keynote address to the Council of Great City Schools. After spending billions on one ill-informed so-called education reform after another, after these reforms seriously demoralized a generation of public school educators, after supporting endless propaganda convincing many parents that their children’s schools are failing, after all this unnecessary chaos, here’s what Bill Gates learned. ““Giving schools and districts more flexibility is more likely to lead to solutions that fit the needs of local communities and are potentially replicable elsewhere… If there is one thing I have learned, it is that no matter how enthusiastic we might be about one approach or another, the decision to go from pilot to wide-scale usage is ultimately and always something that has to be decided by you and others the field.”

Schmuck! We could have told you that when your launched your first reform.

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Union Communications

Last weekend, I answered a tweet by AFT President Randi Weingarten in which she expressed relief that Bill Gates was not abandoning his public education philanthropy. My response was to observe that Gates has had a profoundly pernicious influence on public education. In a tweet of my own, I further observed that the leadership of the NEA and AFT just don’t understand the negative impact Gates has had on the lives of teachers and students as they attempted to accommodate to a series of ill-fated reforms birth by his billions.

That experience reminded me that I had not looked at the webpages of either national education union in a long time. I monitor them from time to time hoping to find some evidence that either organization understands what is happening to the teaching profession. One would think that in an environment in which U.S. teachers are severely underpaid in so many areas that there would be some evidence of a campaign to improve those miserable salaries. One would think that national unions would be talking about the staggering workloads too many teachers bear. One would expect national teacher labor unions to be hammering away at the data driven teacher evaluation schemes that cheapen the work of teaching and rob students of a meaningful education. One would hope to find a consistent, focused critique of the poisonous effect testing is having on public education.

I could go on and on about the kind of content that might appeal to teachers. I can’t imagine that too many find anything of interest in the current offerings. It’s hard to imagine a young high school teacher, carrying a student load of 150 students, working two extra jobs to support his family finding any hope in these union communications for a brighter future. There is no discernible connection between the communications of our national unions and their leaders and what is happening day to day in the classrooms of America’s public schools.

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A Remnant of a Labor Movement

The President of the AFL/CIO used to be a presence in American households. When I was a kid, I knew who George Meany was from his frequent appearances on TV and frequent stories about his thoughts on world and domestic affairs in the newspapers. I strongly suspect that were we to ask today’s k-12 public school students who Richard Trumka is, few would have any idea who he is. Neither would most know anything about the AFL/CIO. How many Americans realize that Mr.Trumka was re-elected on Sunday to another four year term as President of the AFT/CIO. Judging from the very sparse news coverage, it no longer seems to matter to Americans who heads the remnant of the American labor movement.

This unhappy state of irrelevance is the result of the catastrophic failure of America’s unions to respond to the transformation of the American economy from one centered on manufacturing to one increasingly service oriented. When I was young, 35% of the American workforce was unionized. It is no exaggeration to suggest that what we think of as the middle class today was union made. Today, something like 5 or 6% of the private sector workforce is unionized. Public sector unions that were growing have come under right-wing assault. Should the Janus case before the Supreme Court wind up with the loss by public sector unions of agency fee, the best guess is that 30% of public sector union membership will be gone.

Surely part of the solution to the wage stagnation American workers have been suffering is the expansion of worker bargaining power. For that to happen will require the election of political leaders who understand the connection between the expansion of worker rights to organize and bargain collectively and closing the inequality gap in this country. Unfortunately, too many of our Democratic leaders are reluctant to challenge the corporate interests hell-bent on destroying our remnant of unionism. We have arrived at a point in our history at which many workers saw Donald Trump and an ultra-right-wing Republican Party as greater defenders of working people than the party of Franklin Roosevelt. Unless and until that changes, until there is a political movement in this country on behalf of all working people, a movement that seeks to balance the power between workers and the one percent who own almost everything, I fear the union movement will continue to sink into increasing irrelevance.

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A Lesson From Italy

I’ve been on somewhat of a crusade for the past ten years or so to try to awaken American education decision makers to the emergency need to weave instruction on media literacy throughout the k-12 curriculum. In my own school district, I almost got it done, when the assistant superintendent for instruction who was working with me on the project left to take another position, leaving behind her a series of successive school leaders too lost in the world of educationist mumbo-jumbo to appreciate the need to fill a widening real hole in the education of our youth.

The mounting evidence that the Russians were able to manipulate our media with stories contrived to sew division in our ranks and support the candidacy of Donald Trump has awakened some to the need to not only bring our government regulation in line with modern digital media, but also has sparked international interest in the need to educate citizens who to distinguish fact from fiction in the world of virtual reality. I was fascinated to read this morning that Italy has changed its high school curriculum to provide students with instruction in how to spot fake news from the real thing. Such changes are even more necessary in our own country where we now have a president who is hell-bent on delegitimizing responsible media that deign to publish criticism of him.

Over the last twenty-five years or so, media studies has become a respected academic discipline. We have numbers of scholars in this country who are more than able to design a strand of study for our public school children that begins in kindergarten to teach them the tools they need to survive in the media ecology we have developed. So many school leaders talk glibly about 21st century education without meaning anything more than teaching kids how to use the latest digital devices. A real 21st century education prepares students to cope with changes these digital tools have wrought.

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Appealing to Reflexive Republicans

Here on Long Island we have lots of registered Republicans who when you talk to them about politics appear to reject most of what today’s Republican party stands for. Their attachment to their party is more a matter of habit or reflex than ideological affinity. I’ve met many over the years who very openly expressed the view that since Republicans have historically dominated the politics of the Island, self-interest suggested supporting the party that might be helpful getting a summer job for one’s child or a variance for some construction project on one’s property. I’ve met Democrats who are more economically and socially conservative than many Long Island registered Republicans. To be sure, Republican like this can be found everywhere in the United States.

We need to develop a moral and ethical appeal to these Republicans. We need to connect voting for Republican candidates at whatever level of government with the economically, socially ethically regressive agenda of the national Republican Party and its leaders in the House, Senate and Whitehouse. Such a campaign can have two possible positive outcomes. Some can be won over to the Democratic Party, perhaps pausing at independent first. Some can be motivated to push back against the nihilist nuts who have taken control of today’s Republican Party. Many Republicans believe that healthcare is a human right. Many support reproductive freedom and economic equality for women. Many oppose granting huge tax cuts to the ultra-rich. Many know that successfully integrating wave after wave of immigrants is what has made the United States special. Many are passionate about protecting the environment. Many are believers in science and know that our response to climate change will determine our future as a nation and maybe even as a species. Many are not frightened by the fact that white people will soon be a minority in this country and are open to being citizens of a country that treats religion as a personal matter having nothing whatsoever to do with government. Many are good union members and understand the need to expand the rights of working people to join together in common cause.

Supporting the candidates of today’s Republican Party violates all of these beliefs

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Educating with Screens

My God! I just read a Jay Mathews column that didn’t elevate my blood pressure to life-threatening heights. Mathews is the guy who has probably done more to advance the spread of AP classes to high school classrooms than anyone else. Viewing the AP program as essentially an academic scam, I risk reading Mathews from time to time simply to see what mischief he is stirring up for public school educators. But I guess to show me that the possibilities of human redemption are infinite, his October 8 column had me open to the possibility that Mathews just might be able to do teachers some good.

Reviewing the book Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse Is Making Our Kids Dumber, by veteran Virginia teachers Joe Clement and Mat Miles, Mathews credits their argument that often the engagement of teachers and students is the best way of teaching, providing not only for the transmission of information but, even more importantly, an exchange of ideas and feelings necessary for the socialization of young people into responsible citizens. As someone who has come to see the infusion of technology into the public schools as one of corporate America’s great swindles and a threat to the very existence of public education, I’m looking forward to reading this book and to the next column Mathews has promised on what its authors propose. I dare to hope that people are beginning to catch on to the fact that education is essentially a social process that is not well mediated by technological means. I dare to hope that savvy parents will rebel against having their kids who spend endless hours at home staring at screens going to school to isolate themselves in various technological cocoons.

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The Fault is Ours

While our elected national leaders debate tax breaks for the rich, New York State data released yesterday indicates that 10% of New York City’s public school students were homeless at some point during last year. The figure for the entire state was 5%. Think about it! 148,000 kids in the state were expected to meet a set of academic standards when they lacked a place of their own to live. Homeless kids miss significant days of school, are often malnourished, lack proper medical and dental care and are motivated by more basic concerns than their grades on the English language arts assessment. Their lives are often a daily struggle, a struggle filled with the anxieties about meeting basic human needs. How can it be that in the richest nation in the world, in a nation that supposedly concerned for the welfare of children, how can it be that we tolerate this abuse of so many? How can it be that we continue to believe the stupid idea that the lack of academic achievement of these kids is attributable to a failing public school system? When do we face the fact that the real failure is ours as a society?

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Voting Republican

I can’t stop thinking about two stories on the front page of today’s New York Times. The first talks about the Trump administration attempting to kill the Obama administration’s clean energy standards – standards that were designed to move the United States away from fossil fuels and towards a world effort to curtail the man-made causes of climate change. In a speech in Kentucky the other day, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Scott Pruitt announced that the war on coal is over. The other article concerns China’s clear determination to be a leader in clean energy technologies, particularly in the manufacture of electric cars.

Where Republicans were once leaders in the protection of the environment, we now have a party owned and operated by the most rapacious business leaderships. It was Richard Nixon, after all, who created the EPA by executive order in 1970. There was a bi-partisan consensus then that our environment was threatened by the excesses of a capitalist economy which had put profit ahead of the purity of our air and water and the health of our citizens. Today the Vice-President of the United States is a creationist, the President a climate change denier their party committed to an energy policy that runs the very significant risk of severely reducing the economic clout of the United States in the not too distant future.

Most American don’t want this to happen, but they nevertheless continue to support Republicans for elected office at all levels of government, and in so doing support policies inimical to their welfare and their children’s future. Somehow we must convince reflexive Republicans that when they vote Republican at any level, they are supporting the degradation of the environment, the suppression of voting rights, the war on reproductive freedom, healthcare only as good as one can afford, the unfettered ownership of guns, the privatization of public schools, religion over science, white supremacy over democratic diversity and an America isolated from most of the democratic world.

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Staggering Ignorance

My partner Judi went to our local Korean greengrocer the other day to pick up some vegetables for dinner. She came home with much more – beautiful vegetables and an almost unbelievable story of the staggering ignorance that too many American adults suffer from.

While waiting to check out, Judi couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between an adult customer and the store’s proprietor. “Are eggs dairy?” the customer asked. “I mean are they made with milk?”

Think about this conversation for a minute. Think about how it is possible for an adult American to not know what an egg is. It’s good I wasn’t there, because I would have butted in, telling the woman of course eggs contain milk, it being impossible for cows to make them with out imparting some milk to them. I have to suspect that she would have accepted my explanation. I’m sure she would have thanked me for the information.

I find myself wondering what this woman thinks about the Russians tampering with our election. She probably thinks it’s a hoax perpetrated by Hillary Clinton.

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Bits and Pieces

Handmaidens of High Tech

Leaders of teacher organizations are often heard to say, “Ask teachers to organize a firing squad, and they form a circle.” I couldn’t help but notice the tweets from some of the administrators in my home school district. Almost every one has pictures of kids staring
at computer screens. Nowhere is a teacher to be seen. The message is clear to anyone who cares to think about it. Teachers are at best tangential to the education of children. How almost effortlessly the tech companies are getting teachers to become the means of their own destruction. How subtly they are defining education in their own business interest.

ConCon

Yesterday, I spoke to a group of retirees from my home district, urging them to oppose the constitutional convention that is up for a vote in New York this November. It was heartening to see their understanding of the threats to public education and public employees from such a convention. As I spoke, many were taking notes, obviously getting ready for what they knew would be my final point – that they can have an important impact on the defeat of the referendum if each member sets a goal to motivate family and friends to vote NO in November.

Kids and Guns

Long term the way to dial down the passion for gun ownership in this country is the educate generations of children to the fact that their safety and the safety of their families is imperiled by the indiscriminate way in which the United States permits gun ownership. The gun lobby has been winning the propaganda war for decades in the absence of any serious and sustained countervailing argument. Public schools played a significant role in teaching children the dangers of smoking. The can and must do the same job on gun violence.

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Guns, Guns and More Guns

As I write this, fifty concert goers in Las Vegas are dead. Hundreds more are wounded. Thousands are traumatized. And absolutely nothing will be done even try to bring the epidemic of gun violence in our country under control. It’s more than likely that gun sales will be up today and in the weeks ahead.

We live in a country in which a person can walk into a resort hotel with ten – ten weapons in his luggage, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and it’s all perfectly legal. It’s all perfectly legal. How crazy is that? How can anyone think that’s what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they drafted our constitution? One would have to take them for fools to believe that. But clearly we are governed by fools.

The airways and cyberspace are filled with condolences for the victims of what is not the biggest mass shooting in our history. I just saw the President telling Americans that the shootings were and act of pure evil and how he and Melania are praying for everyone involved. Many people will credit Trump for being presidential. Yet prayers are too often a substitute for action. If there is any action here it will probably be to make it easier for people – even crazy people, to purchase weapons of mass destruction. Before the Congress is a Republican bill to make gun silencers legal. I guess they want to make killing more discrete.

It’s been clear for some time that a majority of gun owners favor reasonable limitations on the right to own guns. Nevertheless, we continue to allow the gun lobby to jeopardize the safety of the American people. Isn’t it obvious that we need to balance the right to own guns with the responsibility of the government to protect the people? Isn’t it more than time to get weapons designed for war out of the hands of citizens? Isn’t it more than time that we hold our elected representatives who have sold out to the gun lobby responsible for their unwillingness to balance our right to safety with the right to gun ownership?

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The Janus Case

As expected, the United States Supreme Court has taken the Janus case, a case testing whether the court’s conservative, anti-labor majority, will strike down a previous court’s precedent Affirming public sector unions’ right to collect from non-members the costs associated with bargaining and maintaining their labor contracts – the so-called agency fee. This case, like others, is part of a well-financed movement to destroy what is left of the American labor movement and making the United States a right-to-work country.

While the threat posed by the previous Friedrichs case prompted some fear motivated attention to membership organizing, I’m sorry to say that a loss in the Janus case will have catastrophic consequences for most of the education unions in the country. I have come to the view that agency fee was one of the worst things for our movement. Ironically, we put a great deal of political and bargaining effort into achieving it only to have it weaken us. With dues automatically pouring in, the pressure to engage membership grew weaker and weaker. More and more of our unions’ energy was focused on political work and hardly any effort was consistently made to build the capacity of local memberships to fend for themselves.

While I’m glad to see our unions recognizing the need for internal organizing, the fact it that it is a painstakingly slow process. It can’t simply be turned on when we need it. It’s built day to day and maintained day to day. It builds from daily reminders of the common fate of the members. It develops from the little day to day workplace victories that build confidence and pride in the growing sense of power of members. It’s magnified when management is forced to yield to a demand. It was our union’s birthright which we foolishly abandoned.

Janus is the name of the Roman god of beginnings and endings. What an ironic name for a case that may well determine the future of our labor movement.

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