With a Little Help from My Friends

I have other things that need to get done. Deadlines that have passed. Deadlines that approach. But I'm going to take 30 minutes to write something. This has been brewing for awhile, but I have neither energy nor time to allow it to mature. I'm thinking this will be quick and painful.

The immediate exigence for this post is quite commonplace: another massive, sweeping educational cut. They are everywhere these days. One doesn't have to read the Chronicle to find them. They have become commonplace in the worst way. Today's comes from Las Vegas, where UNLV plans to cut 300+ total jobs, over 100 of them faculty positions. Additionally, they'll lose 77 graduate students. Entire departments will be eliminated in the process.

Yesterday I read an article on gambling in Las Vegas. Apparently, lawmakers there do not think casinos should be held responsible for gambling addictions.

Louisiana approves layoffs for faculty.

In Florida, we face an over 3 billion cut to our state education fund. Additionally, the state is voting to wipe out tenure at the primary and secondary levels--teacher retention will be tied directly to test scores. This is considered good for learning. No wonder why people don't want to be teachers anymore. And no wonder why, supposedly, students don't want to learn.

I'm not even going to touch Wisconsin. There's more going on in Wisconsin than my brain can handle. Friends pass me articles such as this one, by Ed Kilgore entitled "Republicans want Wisconsin to Become Just Like the South," and a piece of my soul dies. I want to vomit in my mouth. Or break something.

I'm not even planning on going pedagogical here; I wasn't planning on sending you to watch Sir Ken Robinson's excellent animated lecture on education in the 21st century. You probably should watch it. But that's not what this post is about, not today.

Today is more about showing a graph I found while collecting visualizations for my Visual Rhetoric class. This graph has been haunting me for quite some time, since I first saw it last week. I can't get away from it. I came across it through a friend's feed on Facebook--part of a series of 11 visualizations exposing income inequality in America over at Mother Jones. All 11 of the visualizations are telling, but one is specific stood out to me:

I never thought I'd say this: but lets go back to 1945. If you make more than a million dollars, then its time to pony up and pay to support the people around you. Sharing is fundamental to existence (seriously, metaphysically, it is--that's the kind of writing I'm supposed to be doing right now, a review of this book).

On a melodramatic note, I'm reminded of Pastor Martin Niemöller's famous statement:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Maybe I am speaking of Wisconsin after all. Maybe they are speaking not just for teachers--but for Americans--men, women, and especially children everywhere who deserve a quality education, doctor, home, and dinner. More than anything, children deserve a chance. In terms of education, a chance requires attention.

I'm sick of hearing that we can't afford education. I'm sick of hearing we can't afford "Obama Care." We can't afford not to care. We need to care. And we need to stop putting greed ahead of sharing.

1 comment:

Insignificant Wrangler said...

[The following is a comment I wrote on Facebook--I don't want it to get lost. I was working on an essay response to Martha Nussbaum's Not For Profit M last semester and I believe this material will resurface there...]

To be honest, it is not the best time to enter the profession. The Tea Party is making things worse. Education was once considered an art--and a difficult one. There was no presumption that all students wanted to--let alone could-learn. Now, in an increasing age of economic assessment, there's "performance ratings" as if we were brokers managing 401ks.

Once upon a time I thought the line "children were an investment in the future" was a solid rhetorical move for educators. Now I realize that kind of logic (ring the Heidegger bell) is disastrous for education. Our contemporary scene is the extension of that logic to a hyperbolic degree. It sickens me.

I encourage you to go into education because, if you love learning and helping people, it remains incredibly rewarding work. I love my job, and I think the people who know me know that. But I can't help but admit that watching these conversations take place on a national stage frustrates and sickens me.

Now I have to go prepare for class.