Fiddling Looking at girls in bacon bikinis online while Rome America burns

I don’t know if I can write coherently about what I think is happening to public education in the Great Lake State. I have never loved the draconian Emergency Manager law that our wondrously nerdy governor managed to push through with his gang of tea-party-like conservative (misogynist (yes, really)) Repugs. I know that many of our school districts are in dire straits because of mismanagement by local school boards. I can understand why our governor (among others, even including me, sometimes) think that a more business-like approach to running the schools might result in bounteous budget surpluses instead of huge budget deficits. At last count, two of the school districts in the Great Lake State that have been taken over by emergency managers are now facing transfers to as yet to be chosen for-profit “charter” schools. All of the teachers are being laid off and will have to apply for new jobs with the new “charter” schools. Folks, these “charter” schools are *not* the kind of charter schools that are established by students, teachers, and parents collaborating to create a learning community. They are big businesses financed by folks who have [arguably] never spent one day *in* a classroom.

The public schools are *not* a business. The public schools exist to serve *all* children, even those whose families cannot afford to pay for their education. I mean those families who move from one horrible apartment to another or live in their car or whatever homeless shelter they qualify for at any particular moment. Maybe we cannot successfully educate all of these children but I think that we need to try. If we don’t, well, maybe some of them will survive and become successful on their own but others will “turn to a life of crime” (yes, that was so cliche that I had to put it in quotes).

I would be getting in well over my head to try to suggest a way out of this problem except to say that we need *incremental* change rather than the radical solutions that our wondrous governor and other governors around the country are forcing down our throats. Are the unions too powerful? I dunno. I have always had mixed feelings about unions but I think they are necessary so that people are treated fairly. Let’s talk to them. Teachers *do* need health insurance and retirement plans. How do we accomplish this without bankrupting school districts? I do not know but I think that making radical changes will only destabilize the schools. And that is not good for the students… … …

On teaching? I could never be a teacher. I would kill the kids! (Oh, not really.) I am a *very* good *coach* for people who are easily teachable. But so many of the children in even the “richest” of school districts (like mine) have so many needs. I don’t have the patience to deal with children who cannot, oh, I dunno, use a pair of scissors in kindergarten or think it’s okay to throw crayons in the toilet in first grade or… well, I do not even want to think about middle school here.

The Commander was a teacher. That was her third career, after being a (1) retail buyer / office manager and (2) moom (yes being a mother IS a CAREER). She taught “home-ec” classes, which were in the “vocational” part of our high school. She was teaching kids life skills. She got a lot of kids who were not on the “college track” and one of the things the principal asked her to do was to create a class on child care. Guess what? A bunch of senior football players decided to take that class because they figured it would be a blow-off class. And it may have been a blow-off class but they had a great time and that class turned out to be very popular through the years.

I was in high school when my moom began this career and I remember how hard she worked. Planning curriculum and grading papers sitting in the old red easy chair in front of the TV at night. Last summer, when I had to do the unmentionable, which was to move her to the Freighter View assisted living facility, the wonderful uber-nurse who checked her in to her apartment was a former student. One who remembered her and loved her.

To all teachers: I love you. You are doing one of the hardest jobs on earth. I hope you are being paid what you are worth… … …

4 Responses to “Fiddling Looking at girls in bacon bikinis online while Rome America burns”

  1. Paulette Says:

    Charter schools. Diane Ravitch ( is a person I read frequently about education reform movements in America. Her Bridging Differences blog ( and her other blog (http:/ are excellent resources.

    I can just see those football players in Fran’s class. She probably had them eating out of her hand. I really miss her. I often think of some wonderful conversations we have had over the years. I cannot believe at times that she has crossed over….

  2. Paulette Says:

  3. Margaret Says:

    For profit schools run by people who don’t have any classroom experience is a VERY, VERY bad idea. What looks great on paper often isn’t the most effective or can even be damaging. Those of us in the trenches get little respect, but in the long term, we’ll be proven right. Unfortunately, too many children(and parents) will suffer in the process. I don’t have the answers either. Or the power to effect the changes I believe in.

  4. Tonya Watkins Says:

    I love this post. My stomach is in knots on a regular basis from what these teapartiers (baggers) keep trying to force upon us.