A Teachable Moment

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

Yet More Gun Violence

Eighteen incidents of gun violence in our nation’s schools in less than two months of this year. EIGHTEEN! The President and Republicans in Congress tell us that this is not the time to talk about the epidemic of child slaughter. Our seeming indifference to this lunacy prompted a black humor artist on Twitter to suggest that we start calling school “uterus” so that Republicans will be concerned with the carnage going on inside them.

In the latest incident, a young man recognized by his peers as likely to shoot the school up, found himself in a society that rather than provide him with the psychiatric care he so obviously needed instead facilitated the actualization of his homicidal fantasies by making weapons of mass destruction easily accessible to him . Millions of dollars have been spent hardening entrances to our schools, when the real danger almost always is within. We have metal detectors in many schools to screen students for weapons but provide few professionals to screen for serious mental disturbance. A screening of any American high school for clinical depression alone would wake the country up to the mental health needs of many of our students.

Our political leaders offer prayers and condolences to what are becoming routine events. It should be obvious to all that God is not answering these prayers. If we are to get control of this epidemic, it is we who will have to find the courage to stand up to the lunatic fringe of gun worshippers and the NRA. Perhaps it’s time to send a message to our elected leaders that we will not vote for anyone who takes NRA blood money. Is it not finally the time to take common sense steps to keep firearms out of the hands of people who can predictably be expected to abuse their constitutional right?

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A Pissing Contest Over Teacher Evaluation?

My readers are more than familiar with my opposition to high stakes testing in the evaluation of students and teachers. I believe it fair to say that my voice in New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) was an early influence in moving our union’s position from support for test based teacher accountability all the way to support for the opt-out movement which seeks to encourage parents to withhold their children from these tests. I feel obliged to state my bona fides as a preface to questioning the current approach of our state union to dealing with this issue.

Currently, largely through the work of the NYSUT and the heroic work of the Opt-Out Movement, we have a moratorium on the use of high stakes tests to evaluate teachers. While a majority of students still take the tests with the student growth scores still reported to the district by teacher, scores are advisory. The commissioner of education appears to be proposing that the moratorium be extended, to which NYSUT has responded with a demand that teacher evaluation be returned solely to local school districts. I completely agree that the state has mucked up the teacher evaluation process and that a return to local control of the process is desirable. I’m not sure, however, that now is the time to get into a pissing contest with the state, a state that is apparently willing to extend the moratorium protecting our members.

At a time when most of our political energies should be focused on the mid-term congressional elections in the fall, at a time when we should be focusing our members attention on the importance to our welfare of returning control of the congress to Democrats, failure to win the battle over evaluations will make our job of turning our members out in November all the more difficult. How much easier and safer it would be to take credit for the extension of the moratorium with a reminder to our membership that we continue the battle for a return to locally bargained teacher evaluation systems.

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Take HEART

Humans have always dreamed of being free of labor. Yet, now that that day is foreseeable, now that technological advances idle both blue and white-collar workers at an astonishing pace, our society does not seem the have the wherewithal to grapple with the implications of a future in which more an more goods and services will be created labor-free. We intuitively know that the answer to the dilemma involves education, but we continue to think that if we can just train people in science and technology, they will be equipped for the emerging economy. It is in this frame of mind that we are teaching little kids to write computer code, to do mathematics that people my age didn’t do until college and cram their school days with activities inappropriate to their stage of development. We feel obliged to destroy their childhood in order to ensure a good place for them in the economy of the future. The name of the game in k-12 education today is STEM, science, technology, engineering and math.

Putting aside the absurdity of everyone learning to code and the other nonsense we inflict on children, less and less of a young person’s education today is spent on what we used to call a liberal education, literature, history, art, civics, comparative religions, languages. Fewer and fewer teachers dare to take time from preparing students for the high stakes tests they must pass to have any hope of a place in the economy of the future to talk about things like the degradation of our democracy, media literacy, the implications of the decline of the middle class, unending wars and, above all else, what it means to live the good life.

Several years ago I suggested that we needed to have a sexy acronym for liberal arts education. I suggested HEART for humanities education advances reading and thinking. I went on to say, “HEART is not about training, but rather about making sense of the world and the people in it. HEART is about envisioning a better world and having the knowhow to organize people to call it into being. HEART is the antithesis of training. It’s not about making a living but learning to live. It’s about having HEART.

One look at the HEARTless baboons who have taken over our country, these people for whom knowledge is a handicap and gut instinct a many art, one look at them gives us a glimpse of what a society devoid of broadly educated citizens looks like. We need to look closely and take HEART.

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A Day of Action

I’ve been in California for a week or so, but have tried to stay in touch with happenings in the education and union worlds. I get an email from my state organization announcing a union day of action on February 24th. I follow up on the web and find that a coalition of public sector unions is sponsoring a national day of protest as a unified statement just prior to the United States Supreme Court taking up the Janus Case, a law suit challenging unions’ right to collect agency fees from non-members.

I immediately look to see about demonstrations in the Palm Springs area. Although there is a 12,000 student school district here and a union with collective bargaining rights, there is nothing on their website or any other union’s website. Frustrated, I figure the California Teachers Association, a huge statewide union, will surely have an announcement of the plans for the day of action. Nothing!

Wouldn’t one think that before a national announcement about a day of action, arrangements with the state and local affiliates and of the national unions would have been made? After all, unions are supposed to be about organizing. With the event just a couple of weeks away, wouldn’t it have been wise to have a publicity campaign that immediately made it clear where demonstrations are going to take place?

A labor day of action is a great idea, but this one doesn’t seem to have been effectively planned and organized. I sure hope we don’t wind up demonstrating our weakness.

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West Virginia Militancy

I’ve had a few arguments with the leaders of both the NEA and AFT over my years as a union officer. In general I have criticized both for a general lack of militancy and an idealized, distorted view of the conditions under which our members work. Both organizations have been slow to realize that k-12 teaching has become an increasingly difficult, less rewarding job, a job that with each passing year has less and less to do with serious education, a job that forces thousands upon thousands of teacher across the country to work one or more extra jobs to keep their families going. Where we should be organizing them to demand better pay and benefits, we offer them professional development, often how to courses that teach them how to cope
with conditions that they shouldn’t have to contend with in the first place. Where militancy is sparked by these dreadful conditions, we often find our national organizations hosing down the fires rather than stoking them.

A case in point is the recent teacher strikes in West Virginia. If you expected to read about how teachers in three West Virginia counties closed down their school districts last Friday and went to the state capitol to demand better pay and an end to attempts to do away with seniority regulations, you would have been completely disappointed. I came upon it in Newsweek, not exactly a journal of radical labor opinion. Wouldn’t one think that NEA and AFT would be in the vanguard of these brave teachers? Shouldn’t we expect our national leaders to shine the spotlight on West Virginia as an example of teachers taking their destiny into their own hands and demanding the respect they so completely deserve? Shouldn’t we wonder why two potentially powerful national organizations appear to be missing this opportunity to use the example of West Virginia to demonstrate to their memberships the importance of maintaining membership in these unions?

The two state organizations in West Virginia have been feuding for years, raids and counter raids preventing them from doing the sensible thing and developing a common agenda to improve the conditions of their members. If there ever was a time to put the past behind them, it would certainly seem to be now.

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Preparing Teachers to Be Union

Why isn’t a course in working in a union environment a part of every college teacher preparatory program in the United States? If our colleges and universities are bastions of ultra-left politics, how can it be that by and large new entrants to the teaching profession come with little or no knowledge of either the contributions of the union movement to the teaching profession or the rights and responsibilities of being a union member?

A million years ago, I had some business with the dean of one of the schools of education of one of our local Long Island universities. After finishing my business, I asked her these same questions, hoping to stimulate her interest in starting such a course. Most of her school’s graduates would get jobs in union districts in the area, many in places that pioneered teacher collective bargaining. Wasn’t it the responsibility of the university to prepare students for the conditions under which they were going to work? At the time, my own district was in a bargaining crisis with a “no contract, no work” vote of the membership scheduled for implementation in September.

The dean responded to my questions with exactly what I expected. It was not the responsibility of the university to advance the cause of unionism. Students were free to make up their own minds about union membership. No matter what I said, even offering to teach the course as a demonstration for free, she obdurately maintained that such a course had no place in a teacher preparation program. When one thinks of the meaningless drivel that makes up most ed courses, the dean’s response to my questions is astounding. Yet, her ideas continue to be mainstream. Why?

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A Dubious Distinction

The high school at which I worked for over thirty years has been named by the state as a Reward School. This perceived distinction is granted to schools scoring in the top 20 percent on the state’s English and math exams, having made score gains in the previous year and not having significant achievement gaps among segments of the school population. Board of education members have been publically praising the superintendent for this achievement. While I have always believed the school to be one of the best in our area, being a Reward School is a distinction based on a metrics that have very little to do with its quality education. To me, our high school is a superior place of learning despite the attempts of a board and administration who have very consciously tried to boost high stakes test scores to the exclusion of more purposeful instruction.

Rating a school on the scores on one English exam and several math tests, exams of highly questionable validity, is absurd. Awards like this are the end product of a high stakes testing regimes that delude the public into believing that serious work is being done to raise the academic bar. It is also a foolhardy way to evaluate the effectiveness of a superintendent, the school administrators and the teaching staff. There are numbers of schools in our area that achieve very respectable test scores but which fail to prepare students for serious college academic work.

Some years ago, we had a superintendent whose mantra was, “We’re number one.” At every public meeting, he would find some way to reinforce the notion that somehow we were in a competition and we were going to come out on top. When I asked him once how we would know we were the best, he looked at me with a broad smile. His gambit was all about boosting his salary. Reward School is a very similar concept.

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Could the Wave Be Flattening?

Those of us who have had more than enough of Donald trump and the complete control of our government by a Republican Party that no longer believes in the efficacy of government are anxiously awaiting the Democratic wave predicted for the congressional elections in November. Conventional wisdom appears to be that the Dems easily take the House, with the Senate likely to remain in Republican control.

A recent poll published in The Hill on the popularity of the recently enacted tax reduction legislation has me wondering. Up 9 percent since December and now at 46 percent, support for the tax law is growing and will probably continue to as more and more paychecks are calculated off the recently published IRS withholding tables. I fear the average American sees the decrease in withholding from his paycheck, pension or Social security as a raise, a raise delivered to him by the Republican controlled Congress and President Trump. Add to this “American pay increase” the wild growth in the stock market, a market in which about a third of Americans have tax sheltered retirement accounts of one kind or another, and the plight of the Republicans running for re-election may not be as dismal as conventional wisdom has it.

While I hope I’m wrong about this, I fear too many American will look to their pockets rather than their consciences and conclude that maybe Trump isn’t as bad as they had thought.

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Waking From the School Reform Nightmare

One of the recurring themes of this blog has been my conviction that the so-called education reform movement with its focus on test score accountability has severely narrowed the public school curriculum to subjects easily measured by standardized tests to the exclusion of learning activities designed to prepare students for daily living and citizenship. A corollary of this theme has been that the over-focus on easily measurable academic outcomes has over-burdened many students, robbing them of important aspects of childhood. As a student once told me, “Without my grades, I’m nobody.”

I’m back to that theme this morning for a couple of reasons. This morning’s New York Times has an article about a new course at Yale University, a psych course aimed at teaching the elite students of Yale how to enjoy life. Dr. Laurie Santos, the creator of the course, thinks it necessary because “…Yale students…in high school…had to deprioritize their happiness to gain admission to the school, adopting harmful life habits that have led to what she called ‘the mental health crises we’re seeing at places like Yale.’” DEPRIORITIZE THEIR HAPPINESS! What a great way to talk about the grade-grind that we pass off as education.

I’m also thinking about the painfully negative effects of what we have done to children in the name of education reform as a result of a conversation I had with several members of our local school board who appear interested in reviving an alternate education program for students at our high school for whom neither the academic program nor the social environment of our high school hold any attraction. We used to have a pretty good program, a program that beyond any doubt saved some lives. We abandoned it along with the children it served when the state increased its graduation requirements to the point where there were no longer any times in the school day to work with students on the psycho-social issues that barred their academic success. Now, their numbers have apparently increased, causing our school board to look for a program to hold on to these kids. “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

I’m actually hopeful that we are waking up from the nightmare of the latest school reform movement. When an elite school like Yale publically recognizes a mental health crisis in its student body and one fourth of that student body signs up for a course about how to enjoy life, we may be witnessing the beginning of a trend to once again anchor our education of children on what we scientifically know about child development.

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Toting Guns to Feel Alive

Have you noticed how Tuesday’s school shooting in Kentucky has disappeared from our ever shortening news cycle? We are becoming increasingly inured to these events, politically anesthetized, as we continue to lose more Americans to gun violence than were killed in the Viet Nam War. We’ve reached the point where most incidents of gun violence don’t even get press attention, so routine have they become. Have you heard from any of our political leaders on the Kentucky shooting? Heard any suggestions of how we might get out from under the constitutional right to slaughter one another? The only thing I heard was some Kentucky Colonel mellifluously intoning the NRA’s mantra that the solution to our problem is arming the adults in our schools.

Quite coincidentally, I met two friends, each of whom with expressions of disbelief, told me of a mutual friend who retired and moved to Florida, a concealed carry state. While we worked with him here on Long Island, he was a very decent fellow, a school administrator who was appreciated by faculty and students alike. Imagining him toting a six-shooter around under his coat and spending hours practicing his shot is almost impossible for me to imagine this man whom I have known for thirty years doing. Yet, I’m told, finding himself in a gun friendly environment, he has taken to gun ownership with an unimaginable passion.

How does that happen? I’ve been wondering. I’ve been wondering too about our increasing fascination with guns and how in some bizarre way these senseless deaths we experience almost daily from gun violence cause us to buy more guns rather than taking steps to address our problem of a country literally saturated with guns. Is there something about gun-toting in anticipation of danger that makes people feel more alive – living on the edge?

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Useless Drivel

I was recently asked to review the observation file of a young teacher who is worried that he will not receive tenure. Reading through the inane drivel of a half dozen administrators charged with evaluating this teacher, I was reminded of the essential pointlessness of much of the written evaluation of teachers and the urgent need to figure out a better way of determining the fitness of the people in our classrooms. We have huge cadres of administrators spending a significant portion of their days working at a process that is more about coercion and control of teachers than it is about improving instruction.

The typical observation devotes one or two pages to a narrative of the observed lesson. It begins with things like the teacher’s welcoming of the students and proceeds to step by step record the details of the lesson. The often very poorly written narratives are interspersed with allusions to the latest faddish expectations. Nowadays, this usually means references to the state standards, the use of technology and one or more education theories. This is followed by a listing of what the observer deems commendable aspects of the lesson which in turn is followed by a listing of needed improvements. This latter list often takes the form of what the teacher might have done. As my partner Judi always says, “I might have decided to dance naked on my desk, but I chose not to on that occasion.”

Read carefully, most observations say more about the observer than they do about the teacher being observed. Good observations are experienced by teachers with relief. Bad ones tend to arouse more anger than reflection. In all my teaching years, rarely did I see anything worthwhile grow out of this process. Rather, the quirks of observers became universally known and lessons were developed to cater to them.

I’m not unaware of the need for some kind of record upon which to base employment decisions about teachers. I’m not sure I know what that record should be. What I do know is that the current model doesn’t do what is claimed for it. I’ve known terrible teachers with outstanding observation portfolios and very fine teachers who were unable to get tenure. I do know that part of a more valid system entails using universally recognized outstanding teachers. So many of the observations I’ve read over the years were written by people whose words reflected a lack of understanding of the art of teaching.

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One Racist Remark

The President’s most recent racist outburst expressing his view that we don’t need any more people from what he sees as shithole countries has me thinking about all of the Americans stationed overseas and how their days will now be filled with the need to explain to host country nationals that, unlike their president, they do not believe they are living in a shithole country. His abysmally ignorant comment has taken me back to my Peace Corps days in Ghana when my hosts often called upon me to explain the actions of America.

At twenty-six years old, I found myself called upon to explain the killing of Martin Luther King. The question put to me was, “Why did you kill Martin King?” In the minds of the villagers with whom I lived, I was clearly the spokesperson for the United States. It became my job to explain the inexplicable to people whose very positive image of America had been compromised by the death of an American who had become associated with their struggle for freedom from colonial rule. When, not to long thereafter, I was asked to explain the killing of Robert Kennedy, a symbol to Ghanaians of the best of America, it was harder than betraying family secrets to address the hatred and violence that has stained our history.

Across the world, Americans are working for the benefit of our country and, more often than not, for the people in their host country. In thousands of ways, they create a positive image of America and its people. One stupid, racist remark by the President of the United States has, I’m sure, called that image into question for many. You can be completely sure that unscrupulous people will exploit our leader’s ignorance.

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Ignoring Failure

By all means, let us continue the battle against high stakes testing, a battle that we are winning. But in the process of ending the mismeasurement of student accomplishment, let’s not slip into the belief that evaluation doesn’t really matter. I fear that’s the message we are unintentionally sending students when, as we are increasingly doing on Long Island, we craft grading policies that count the results of state Regents Examinations only if they raise student averages. I have no strong feelings about Regents exams one way or another. When I was teaching, I always pitched the level of my courses above that of the Regents. Yet, not all students had to take the Regents to graduate during my teaching days. What I do strongly object to is the growing ethically tenuous practice of counting the results for some and not for others. If we deeply believe that the exams are not true measures of student achievement, then we should not count the results no matter student scores. If, on the other hand, we believe them to be an accurate measure of student knowledge, then by what ethical principle do we exempt students from the results who receive low grades? If we are to ignore Regents failure, why count other failures?

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Look to Montana

I’ve been finding it hard to write about education in recent days. The deluge of dispiriting news from Washington most days makes the problems in our classrooms seem unimportant compared to the tangible daily across the board decline of our nation. I’m half way through Michael Wolff’s book, and, if even a quarter of it is accurate (and I think much more is), our country is in the deepest shit it’s been in for quite some time. I doubt that we have ever had an assemblage of self-seeking, bumbling nincompoops like we have now.

Yet, it was good to read this morning that rather than wallowing in despair, our union brothers and sisters in Montana are putting the final touches on a merger that will bring all public sector union members into one organization. Most people don’t tend to think of Montana as a hotbed of progressive unionism, but in many ways its history is a good deal more progressive than many places we think of as liberal leaders. The union teachers in Montana were one of the first to see the wisdom of merging the NEA and AFT organizations in their state. Now, facing attacks like the Janus Case before the U.S. Supreme Court, they are taking the next step and recognizing that what they have in common with their fellow public sector workers is infinitely greater than what separates them. Where are the leaders in places like New York and California with the imagination and will of the unionists in Montana? Bravo, Montana. May your merger inspire other state union leaders.

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Federal Tax Code and School Budgets

Most of New York State relies heavily on the property tax to support its local public schools. As a result, communities with a deep property base have generally had outstanding public schools, while property poor districts have been unable to provide the same level of quality. The inherent unfairness of tying the quality of a child’s education to the zip code of his residence is a problem that has had more than its share of lip service and much less serious political discussion than it deserves.

The recent changes in the tax code restricting the deductibility of state and local taxes and mortgage interest will make the discussion of how we finance our public schools even more vital. In communities like the Long Island suburb in which I live, it is almost impossible to have a conversation with a fellow citizen without the subject of ever-escalating property taxes coming up. While most communities have historically supported their local school budgets, they have done so grudgingly. Here in New York, the exasperation over ever-rising property taxes led our craven politicians to pass a property tax cap rather than reassess how we raise money to support our public institutions. While the property tax cap has and will continue to significantly damage our public schools, public pressure to reduce these taxes even further is a sure thing now that the federal government is reduced its subsidy of home ownership.

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Unions and Harassment

I’ve long been uneasy a with the word harassment. God, how many phone calls did I answer over the years from members accusing some administrator of having harassed them? How many claimed harassment by another member. Too often, what was angrily described to me as harassment turned out upon investigation to be a rebuke of some kind by an administrator for some perceived shortcoming like not getting to work on time or the failure to complete assigned work. Member complaints were frequently instances in which a member or members tried to get the caller to follow a union action that we had voted to do. “Morty, tell the building reps to stop harassing me. I don’t pay dues to be harassed.”

Imposing what I call democratic discipline is problematical for union leaders in the best of times. In the current environment in which we talk about things like micro-aggressions, a time when we appear to be unable to distinguish between the boorish behavior of Senator Fraken and the deviancy of a Roy Moore, the job of union leaders to maintain cohesion around union policies and actions is infinitely more difficult and fraught with increased possibility of those loosely bonded to the union perceiving attempts to bring them in line as harassment.

When I tongue-lashed a member who didn’t show up for picket duty during a strike, was I harassing them? When our union called for a demonstration and I told the members we would be taking attendance, was I harassing them? Did I help to create a hostile work environment by refusing to talk to teachers who scabbed during one of our strikes?

Good unions make decisions democratically and implement them in an organized, disciplined manner, sometimes reminding those who would prefer to go their own way of their obligation to the group, in some cases shaming them into doing the right thing. I fear that today the democratic demand for discipline will be perceived as harassment.

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Due Process and Proportionality

In my December 8th post, I expressed my discomfort at the inability of Democrats to distinguish between the misdeeds of Al Franken and Roy Moore. Zephyr Teachout has a piece in this morning’s New York Times that expresses the same concerns and which sketches out a mechanism for due process and proportional responses to inappropriate sexual conduct. She, too may not have all of the answers, she is attempting to lead Democrats to firmer ethical and political ground than our Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Teachout continues to be a sane political voice. It’s a pity she can’t seem to get elected to high public office. 2018 could be her year.

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Democrats’ Miscalculation

In their rush to gain the high moral ground, congressional Democrats appear to be staking out a zero tolerance policy for any sexual misbehavior. They, like too many of the TV talking heads do not seem to be capable of discriminating between the misdeeds of Al Franken and a Roy Moore. This calculated political move carries with it a huge political risk that does not seem to have informed their calculation. It is also a perversion of any meaningful concept of justice and proportional punishment.

For a long time, Democrats have had a very hard time with male voters. I fear that if the current stampede to purge all of our elected male officials perceived to have to have acted inappropriately with women continues, the potential gain of women voters will be more than balanced by the further loss of men who will increasingly see these events as a war on males. Such an outcome will neither permit the evolution of new standards of male behavior nor will it widen the possibilities of legal improvements in the status of women in our society. In the end, there is a real risk that it will simply bring about the elections of more people who are as angry about women’s drive for equality as they are about other planks of the progressive agenda. It also runs the real potential to stall the advance of women in the workplace.

I don’t claim to have all of the answers to the problem of male sexual aggression in the workplace and society. It has been my observation that these aggressive tendencies are distributed on a spectrum, that is, with men displaying various degrees of flirtatious aggressiveness. We ought to be able as a society to reasonably draw lines between the annoying, the threatening and degrading and the criminal manifestations of these tendencies. We ought to also be able to find ways to teach all of our children that no job is worth the sacrifice of one’s self-respect. Above all, we need to find ways to advance our society’s norms of sexual behavior without sacrificing our notions of due process and justice.

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Political Depravity

Political Depravity! Supporting someone credibly charged with molesting children to be a Unites States Senator is as depraved a political act as I can remember. There appears to be no end to what Republicans are willing to do to hold on to power. Yesterday, I wrote of how our expressed concern for children falls very short of our actual treatment of them. Now our governing party has publically supported Roy Moore for the Senate, a man banned from his local shopping mall for stalking young girls, a man who appears to have used a public office to exploit children. What’s left for Republicans to disqualify a person for public office? Is Mitt Romney the only national Republican leaders whose conscience remains intact? “Roy Moore in the US Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity.”

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The Tax Giveaway

I’ve always been struck by the cruel discrepancy between Americans’ stated reverence for children and the way we actually treat them. Throughout my life I’ve listened to pious platitudes from the left and right of the political spectrum about our obligation to care for our nation’s children, at their most extreme including those in utero. This sanctimony has cloaked the grim reality that almost a quarter of America’s children live in poverty and have very limited opportunities for escape. Add to this reality the fact that many of these children bear the additional burden of belonging to a racial minority and concern for the welfare of children is revealed as one of the lies we tell ourselves about our exceptionalism.

Senate passage of the tax giveaway to the rich has reminded me of our indifference to the welfare of our nation’s children. Forgetting for a moment that over 60 percent of the tax reductions will go to the top 1 percent of incomes, this bill has been designed to gradually financially cripple our government’s ability to provide for the neediest among us. For some of its supporters, the goal is to shrink the size of government by starving it. For most, however, the aim is to destroy America’s frayed social safety net to satisfy a deeply held belief that recipients of these programs are not worthy of receiving their benefits. We saw glimpses of the Republican plan during the debate on the Senate tax bill. Take Senator Grassley’s comments, for example, who asked to justify cutting the estate tax for the super rich found himself blurting out that the rich know what to do with the extra money whereas working people will only spend the money “…on booze, women and movies.” Or Senator Hatch’s exchange with Sherrod Brown, in which fatigue having weakened his internal censor, he talked about how liberals have taught many people to expect the government to take care of them and won’t do anything to help themselves.

Beyond doubt, while this giveaway to the rich will have profoundly negative effects on our country for years to come, potentially inflicting permanent damage to our society, its effects will fall disproportionately on neediest children who will have an even lesser chance at a better life than their parents than they have today.

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