Sunday, December 11, 2011

Money, Money, Money - It All Comes Down to Money: Corporate Influence in America

Money doesn't buy happiness; nor does it buy freedom. It does, however, buy economic and political power. It does buy the media outlets that control and spread the "news." The media are those large, corporate-owned propaganda and brain-washing machines that tell people the "truth" and how and what to think about which "truths" they decide to relate to the people. Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message.” Well, the media are corporations, and their message is to promote and maintain the sole life-blood of their corporate lives: profit. Corporations control the message the public sees, hears and reads. The media are no longer the Fourth Estate.

Money also buys the foundations, think tanks, councils, non-independent research studies, and "reform" movements that are backed by the very deep pockets of corporations and CEO's to maintain their control over the status quo that includes huge income inequality, a regressive tax structure, reduction in human and citizen's rights, a citizen's access to the courts, and a constituent's access to his or her own legislators. Of course, they don't mind that we the people continue to pay our taxes, helping to fund their corporate agenda, since many legislators are now owned by corporations. Corporations don't mind that 1 in 4 American children now live in poverty. They don't mind that there is only 1 job for every 4 unemployed Americans, as they continue to export jobs. They don't mind that their profits continue to soar as the American people suffer and are crushed by supporting the weight of the hoarded wealth of the top 1%.

The fact that the Supreme Court of the United States of America has a God-complex and decided to give corporations the gift of life as persons, and give corporate money the human right to free speech, is conveniently overlooked. Corporations have one sole purpose in their “life,” and that is to make a profit. The Citizens United decision allows them to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy politicians, buy votes, to literally write the bills in their favor, at the expense of humanity and the environment, and hand them to our legislators to pass into law.

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is foaming at the mouth to destroy unions and collective bargaining in order to privatize education, attacking the educated and those who educate the populace in the process. They don't want an educated populace that has the critical thinking skills with which to question them. This is why the education "reformers" want to destroy the teacher's unions and privatize education. If they can do this, they will control who has access to education, and the actual education curriculum of their own corporate propaganda. Plutocracy in action.

ALEC is also trying to repeal minimum wage and child labor laws. The bills are already in multiple state houses, submitted verbatim. Now, really, why would corporations want this? It's not rocket science. If you want to go back to the times of the Gilded Age (aka, the Robber Barons) continue to support ALEC and its well-funded agenda and propaganda campaign. Support Mr. Gingrich, who calls child labor laws silly and would rather see children in poverty work as janitors, than get an education. George Santayana once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Many people have bought into the corporate propaganda that unions are the cause of America's decline. They obviously aren't looking at the facts that continuously record-breaking corporate profits and rapidly increasing CEO wages and benefit packages have come at the expense of the jobs, wages and benefits of working Americans. As corporate profits and CEO wages have increased, the wages of average Americans have either remained flat or decreased over the past few decades. This has been as a direct result of corporate strategy, and the people's willingness to let their own unions die as they misguidedly put their trust in corporations. The facts show that as workers let the unions fall, the middle class has shrunk, income inequality has increased, and poverty and homelessness have increased. Unions did not create the current economy, nor did they create the recession. 

Ultra-rich job creators have sent our jobs overseas, as their ultra-rich corporations have received tax cuts, tax breaks, and tax refunds. Then, they blame the lack of jobs on "greedy" unions and union members. I think many folks have forgotten what unions have done for middle class America. Without unions, we would all still be working 7 days a week, 15-18 hours a day, in unsafe working conditions, without minimum wage or child labor laws, or any health care or retirement plans. We would, essentially, return to the status of serfs. Folks have forgotten that union members and organizers literally died so that people now only have to work 40 hours per week for a living wage, have safe working conditions, health care, retirement plans and Social Security. With workers enjoying a living wage and shorter working hours, they also have the freedom of more time to spend with their families to actually enjoy their constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness. They have more time to spend getting a higher education and increase their job and wage prospects, rather than simply enter the work force at a younger age. Union members and organizers died so we don't have to spend our lives working to fill the deep coffers of corporations, only to live and die in abject poverty.

Corporations and "reformers" are actively working to bust the remaining unions, end collective bargaining rights, and repeal minimum wage and child labor laws for a very good reason. They want to return to a time when they could and did pay what little money they want to their workers. Do you think they will stop there? They will get rid of other labor laws, as well, that restrict them from creating unsafe working conditions. You can see evidence of this trend in the corporate push to deregulate the Clean Air Act and other environmental protection laws, as well as their efforts to hobble the Environmental Protection Agency. These "patriotic" corporations are simply paving the way to bring back serf-style jobs as the saviours of America, as they rake in even higher profits, since they will no longer have to export these low-wage jobs.

Money doesn't buy happiness. It doesn't buy freedom. Life is not a business model. Corporations are not persons and their money is not speech. If people want to be serfs, we can let corporations continue on their steady course and play their aggressive chess game that has we the people on the defense. We the people are the trees that stand like silent sentinels of democracy and freedom, with our roots planted deeply in this land. Corporations have shaken the leaves off of us, leaving our branches exposed. They are attempting to uproot us.

What do you value most? How much do you value your freedom? How much more are you willing to accept and give up, not only for yourself, but for your children and future generations? When will you say, "No more" and be willing to stand up and take back what has already been taken? When will you make certain that our rights and freedoms, our democratic republic, our very country, will never again be open to attack from the inside in this way? It's not just up to me. This will take all of us. Your country and your fellow citizens need you, desperately.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Am America - I Will Not Fall

A friend on Facebook said I am down on America. He suggested that I post positive facts about our country, and was sure I could find many. In the past two months, I've essentially been called unpatriotic, been cyberbullied both on Facebook and in text messages on my phone, and called a terrorist for supporting OWS. Here is my reply:

I wonder where we'd be if our founders had only written and spoken about all the wonderful things about their country, England?

"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." - Winston Churchill

I am not down on America. It is because I have a deep love for my country and its Constitution and Bill of Rights, that I don't believe in turning a blind eye to its foibles. How can we improve if we don't truly see ourselves? We all already know the many great things about our country, and I teach these things to my students. However, as an adult American, outside of my classroom, I have a duty to my country to be a responsible, active citizen. I am an educator who is looking to improve what we do in our country. We can learn from and work with each other. As an educator, I can tell you that teachers have been scapegoated and demonized by politicians and journalists as the cause of the ills of our country. I do not accept this mantle. I will not give up on my country by glossing over the things we need to improve, nor will I, as an American and an educator, accept the status quo that allows 1 in 4 American children to live in poverty.

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." - Albert Einstein

"It is an affront to treat falsehood with complaisance." - Thomas Paine

We may not agree on everything. We may not share each other's vision. Yet we remain one country...America. In this, I find hope that we will learn to work together for the sake of our country, our freedom, and our future.

"Gutta cavat lapidem; non vi, sed saepe cadendo."

"A water drop hollows a stone; not by force, but by falling often."

(Main phrase is from Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto IV, 10, 5.[12]; expanded in the Middle Ages)

The first two YouTube videos are by Krista Branch, and the third is by Miley Cyrus. I do not own the rights to these videos and intend no copyright violation.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Get Involved! Do SOMEthing!!!

Like the leaves on my tree, the American people are falling fast. Get involved! If you're apathetic, you are the weakest link. The weakest link ALLOWS OTHERS to determine the course of our nation. If you think sitting back and letting others run the show for you has been working, take a really good look around you. One in four American children now live in poverty, on your watch. Unions, the last bastion of worker's rights and middle class salaries are being busted to make way for the repeal of minimum wage and child labor laws, on your watch. Yes, this is true - these new laws are already submitted to multiple state houses. Keep on doing nothing, and this will all continue to worsen. WE NEED YOU! NOW!!!

...and if the powers that be really did care about it all, they wouldn't have created the seriously regressive tax structure and economic environment that have created our enormous income inequality and the resulting high child poverty rate. This is all purposeful. Deregulation and policy and law changes have to be created. These things don't just "happen."

As for "reform," education reform, just as has been the case in tort reform and health care reform, is not about the actual reform of education. It's simply a well-tested focus group piece of propaganda the far right is using to pull the wool over people's eyes so they don't look at the real purpose behind these "reforms." The doublespeak à la George Orwell's 1984 is alive and well.

The reformers never bring up the number one reason for the academic success of students: parental involvement. Nor do they mention the importance of relationships behind a successful academic career or recognize the plethora of broken families in America. They don't want to address child poverty (and along with it, lack of adequate health care and nutrition), which does have a huge adverse impact on education. They don't acknowledge any of this because the real reform they're foisting on Americans is really all about union-busting, privatization, repeal of minimum wage and child labor laws, and the creation of an uneducated workforce that won't be capable of questioning them. Then, they'll no longer have to reduce their profits to export low-paying serf-style jobs and can look like heroes bringing those jobs back into the USA. Aren't they so patriotic? So, they ridicule, scapegoat and demonize teachers as the cause of all the ills of society. Deflection is so convenient for them, isn't it? 

Ridicule, scapegoating, demonization, then dehumanization are also the steps to violence against others. The Ministry of "Love" is our Department of "Homeland Security" that now "works with" our local police forces who show up to peaceful demonstrations in riot gear and, on one occasion, with a tank. They use military grade weapons such as pepper spray, tear gas, stun grenades, while they also wield batons to inflict harm. They send peaceful, law-abiding American citizens who are simply exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and assembly to the hospital...some in critical condition. The peaceful people they've harmed and/or arrested includes veterans, a former police chief, a 94-year-old woman, an entire group of seated and unarmed UC Davis students, and an expectant mother. So much for the sanctity of life. 

Our Fourth Estate no longer exists, as predominantly all media outlets are now owned by 3-5 major corporations, all spouting the same corporate propaganda. Our Fourth Estate is now our Ministry of "Truth." The police have detained, arrested, and destroyed and/or erased data off of the cameras of many of the few remaining unbiased journalists in order to destroy evidence and suppress the true facts, so that the Ministry of Truth can disseminate lies. The brain-washing arm of the Ministry of Truth is a powerful core group of Hollywood elite with major corporate money behind their green-lighted propaganda movie projects and star-filled personal appearances.

If you think these are the actions of a democratic government, think again. We are currently in a non-violent struggle (on our side) for the return to democracy. We want the power and money of multi-national corporations (can you say non-American, then?) out of our government. It's about the American people, our freedom, our national security, and the survival of our way of life. We're down to brass tacks and need everybody on this. We need YOU!

Friday, November 25, 2011

How Can You Change America for the Better?

How can you change America for the better? That change must simply begin with you...and me. Income inequality and desperation breeds violence and unrest. However, the choice to not participate in the insanity is yours. The path and the power to create positive, non-violent change lies within each and every one of us. We have only to stand up, be it, and live it to create the change. Then, what those in power want or do will no longer matter. The joining of the power of our very lives will create the change.

Vote, get involved in politics to change it for the better, choose where you spend wisely, choose what you watch and do buy wisely, choose for the direction you want our country and our people to take. Whatever you do, please don't be apathetic and let this current course continue. The weakest link in the process of change helps to determine the strength and permanence of the outcome. Please choose non-violence as your method of expressing your thoughts, beliefs and actions. The only way those in power could try stop it would be to kill each and every last one of us. Then, they'd have nobody left to do their bidding and they'd be forced to become one of us to survive, and then we'd still have created the change. The path of compassion, love and non-violence will prevail.

This is a journey, and my own path has been rather circuitous. I have shut off my television. In doing so, I have reduced the amount of advertisements to which I am subjected by at least a hundred-fold. I have reduced my exposure to the purposeful propaganda of the 3 major corporate owners of most of the thousands of media outlets  in America (tv, radio, newspapers - ever wonder why they're all saying pretty much the same thing?). I don't buy all the "look at how wonderful and rich I am" celebrity magazines that fuel consumerism, greed, and the grass is greener on the rich side of America. This past year of no television has been a positive, interesting journey; so positive that I will not be watching it next year, either.

I avoid shopping, and if I do shop, I avoid buying anything except food. Yes, I get tempted. Most of the time, these days, my common sense wins. I find creative ways to delay, and then avoid, actually buying something I want but don't need. When I shop for clothes, I usually go to thrift stores before any other, to avoid buying new. At the same time, those in need also benefit. I am thankful for everything and everyone in my life. I don't need any things, except for food, water, shelter, and clothes (could get a little cold out there).

Ultimately, the path to peace varies for each traveller. I wish you all the best of luck on your path. Namaste.

Buy! Buy! Buy Your Way Into Oppression!

We the people are driving this bus of consumer frenzy for cheap products, which demands minimum wage jobs, creates time away from family, decreases our rights and economic and political power. If you don't like the direction this bus has taken, then get out of the driver's seat! If you truly believe that family and friends are more important than things, then don't participate in Black Friday. Instead, enjoy the day doing things with each other. Get out and hike, play some games, sing, dance, and talk with each other. Have a block party. Build relationships and community, not power and profits for the 1%.

Monday, November 21, 2011

GOP Privatization of the USA

The GOP wants to privatize schools, privatize prisons, privatize, privatize, privatize. Now that Mitt Romney is pulling yet another reversal, this time on his trial balloon for the partial privatization of veteran's health care, I thought...

Oh, for heaven's sake! Why don't we just get it all over with and let them privatize everything. Let's allow for-profit bottom-lines and shareholder profits be the sail we set as we glide through the waters of our country's economy, allowing the winds of a free market to steer the course of all citizens' jobs, health care, education, retirement, etc. Let's disband our democratic republic and let the corporations run it, no longer having to hide their contributions and control over our elections and government. We may as well just let them do what they're already doing behind the scenes. We can even change our name and call ourselves UniMart, with our new national motto, "In Capitalism We Trust," and our shiny new flag colored the green and white of money with a golden cash register in the center. Finally, let's watch as the richest 1% sail away on their yachts, leaving their serfs (all of the RFID chip implanted 99% - the economically challenged men, women and children) to work and pay for all the taxes until they drop, without decent wages, working conditions, education, health care, or retirement. Don't forget to bow to the 1% as they blithely sail by shouting at you to "Go get a job!" or "Take a bath!", or you'll end up in jail or dead.

Respect, Social Justice and Non-Violence

There are many paths to choose in life, and even those who choose the same path may follow it using a different form of transportation. I choose the path of social justice using non-violence as my mode of transportation. If we want social justice to prevail, let's embody it. Let's not demean or demonize those with whom we disagree. Let's be non-violent in our approach with them, using facts, figures, history, and principles of ethics/morality in our own communication with others. It is so much easier to put down, laugh at, demonize, share cartoons and curses, show disrespect, dehumanize, and be outraged or angry. It takes conscious thought to be ethical, to show respect for those with whom one disagrees. I have been guilty of some of the former, while I strive for the latter. I am human and am trying to live from a higher level of consciousness in all areas of my life.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Social Justice, Respect, and "Entitlement" Spending

Americans do not need to cut "entitlement" spending when there are so many of us that are homeless and hungry. The most recent census puts 1 in 3 Americans in poverty or near poverty. Which ones would you be willing to look in the eye and say, "No help for you, or you, or you. You can starve and sleep on the street for all I care, because it's more important to me to pass a balanced budget than make certain my fellow humans are treated with compassion and given a helping hand."

If we took all of the money we spend on the military-industrial complex and spent it, instead, on our own people, we would live in a more just society. The extraordinary income inequality, lack of education, health care, housing, and a proper diet are inexcusable in these times. Many of us live in relative abundance, and can provide help for others who are down. We are our brother's and sister's keeper. When our brother or sister is down, we don't stomp on them and tell them, "Go get a job!" when there is only 1 job for every 4 unemployed people. We certainly don't turn our back on them and ignore their pain and suffering.

My mother used to say, "There but for the grace of God go I." Many people work hard, not just the rich and middle class. Why is it so easy for people to dehumanize and castigate others who are less fortunate? Why is it so easy to dismiss them by saying they are lazy good-for-nothings? Are we really so superior and entitled to our own position in life? All it takes is one bad medical illness to bankrupt someone and send them and their family onto the street. One illness!

As for the possibility of giving someone a hand, who one may believe does not deserve it, I say don't judge. One doesn't know another's soul. One doesn't know the pain and suffering of another. Would Jesus have turned anyone away? Doesn't the Church preach compassion and tell its people not to cast stones?

Perhaps the great minds of our time can come up with a more humane form of American capitalism, rather than the current one that breeds greed and spreads inequality and poverty. Rather than judge others, perhaps we might give each other a helping hand, out of love and respect for our common humanity.

The Best Anti-Bullying Strategy Is Within You

"Don't Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.” - Don Miguel Ruiz

Isn't that the truth? If we all truly learned this well, others might try to bully us, but they would have no effect on us. Then, we could have compassion for them and ask that their minds and spirits be healed.

Thanksgiving Day Message

Inspired by the non-results of the Super Committee, I got an idea. Let's all give Congress a break from having to announce their failure to lead and govern our country, for failing to abide by their oath to serve we the people, and for failing to work together to build consensus. No, we don't have the ability to exercise a no confidence vote. Yes, we can vote them all out of office. Instead, let us demand they resign from office if they continue to choose not to govern. We could line the streets in silent protest of their failure. Go outside and just stand there, representing the result of their work...nothing. It's peaceful. We the people don't get hurt, pepper sprayed, tear gassed, bones broken by batons, or arrested.

Let's pick a day and and time to show solidarity with and thanks for each other, and send a silent message to Congress. How about Thanksgiving Day at 2pm? Wherever you are, stop what you are doing, go outside and stand in silence for 5 minutes. Together, we are powerful and empowering; divided we are weak and will fall.

Someone wondered if another day rather than Thanksgiving Day would be better. What better day than Thanksgiving Day? On Thanksgiving Day, we celebrate communion (we commune together) with each other by coming together and breaking bread. We share our lives, our thoughts, our souls, our food, our beliefs, our company. We celebrate the history of sharing and social justice when Native Americans saved the Pilgrims from starving over the winter. This is part of the foundation of the United States of America.

We share the land on which, and the country in which, we all live together. As one people, we can share together in sending a message of our own. We want our leaders to lead with what is best for us, the people. We want leaders who lead by positive example, by coming together to lift us all up, rather than only lift up the few, as they push the rest of us down. Thanksgiving Day is a time for sharing, so why not share our hope for a better, more socially just and ethical America? Why not share in sending our leaders a message that Americans want them to lead with respect for each other and for us? Why not share in sending our leaders a message that Americans want them to lead effectively?

Why not have Thanksgiving Day be a living symbol of empowering each other to share and lead ourselves and our country to a higher level of social justice, rather than just a symbolic day in history? What better day than Thanksgiving Day to celebrate and give thanks for the freedom we have to share and send a message of hope for more socially just and inspired leadership?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Occupy? An American Autumn

Occupy is definitely about more than just Wall Street. It's a protesting against the 1% creating, essentially, a feudal system in which the 99% will no longer have the economic or political clout with which they can stop the 1%. They've been privatizing government (control over power), education (to create an uneducated populace that will no longer be capable of questioning them), prisons (for slave labor), etc. They've pushed legislation to repeal minimum wage, child labor and collective bargaining laws. They've reduced the wages, pensions and benefits of non-union labor and are trying to break the remaining unions so they can do the same to those workers. They're trying to reduce, eliminate or privatize Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid so the social safety net is shredded and they can control our money. They've used "tort reform" to reduce the people's access to the courts, just as they're going to use "education reform" to ultimately reduce our children's access to education. They've bought SCOTUS and used them to pass Citizens United so they control elections. They've gotten deregulation and policy changes put in place to benefit their corporations at the expense of the environment and our health. They've spent millions in a propaganda campaign to create doubt in people's minds about climate science and global warming in order to maintain their hold on fossil fuel industries to the detriment of the environment and mankind. They purposefully deregulated the financial industry and created mortgage fraud to enable them to steal the wealth of the 99% via the largest transfer of securities, property and "bailout" monies in history. There's more, but I won't go on. This whole thing has been a well-conceived chess game that they're currently winning. Now that the 99% have finally awakened from their apathy and are protesting, they're going to do whatever is necessary to protect their own position of power.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cliff Notes on the State of Our Country

Here are the cliff notes of things I’ve posted in the past, both here on this blog, and on Facebook. This is what I see as what's really happening in our country (and around the world - we're not alone).

1 - A revolution in America has begun, although there's a private (corporate-owned CNN, FOX, etc.) news blackout. The attack on National Public Radio was purposeful because the corporations can't control the news disseminated by them.

2 - There's a supra-national group of mostly banks controlling things around the world, and their motivation is power and profit.

3 - The push to privatize and control public institutions is purposeful and planned, especially on education, because an uneducated populace is more easily controlled. It's about power and profit going to the corporations and the banks holding the money.

4 - The banks are funneling our money into their coffers through various straws. Here are some ways:

a - We're in 3 wars to increase the profits of private militia, and those of their owners and investors (including Cheney), and siphon our money through tax dollars.

b - TARP bailouts from our tax dollars transferred our wealth directly to the banks

c - the transfer of our property through foreclosures

d - the transfer of our wealth (our pensions/retirement incomes) through Wall Street deregulation that directly prepared the way for the planned Great Recession.

e - the attacks on unions and worker's rights and repeal of minimum wage and child labor laws are all about increasing corporate power and profits.

5 - The patenting of natural seeds, genes and life processes is about power and profit going to the corporations and the banks. It's also about controlling the population. Who controls the food, genes, and life processes, controls the people.

6 - The privatization of water - again profits and power. Who controls the water, controls the people.

7 - The privatization of health care and use of insurance companies to control health care puts the power, profit, and control of people's very lives in the hands of private corporations.

8 - The reduction of US citizen's constitutional rights and our policy of rendition, post 9-11, have given more power to the government to arrest, detain without charge or representation, torture, and disappear people. We can also be called terrorists and arrested for protesting against things.

9 - The control of our government is predominantly in the hands of corporations who send their people into government jobs to control the policies, regulations and funding of their industries. Hence, the removal of Glass-Steagall that paved the way for the Great Recession (the earlier S&L scandal was actually a dry run), removal of environmental regulations allowing free-rein to industries to produce and increase their profits without worrying about the environment and the public health. Then, many of those same corporate flunkies go right back to their high-paying jobs in corporations, having done their dirty work.

10 - The attacks on women - physical, in legislation and lack of it, in lack of economic parity and power, and in the attempted removal of basic health care screenings and denial of coverage to women - all to increase insurance company profits, is ongoing.

11 - The Supreme Court's Citizen's United decision gave corporations the rights of people. Corporations are now free to win friends and influence/control elections to their non-beating hearts' content, while they control our government and our court systems.

12 - Tort Reform has reduced access to the courts by average citizens, giving corporations more power and profit, increasing bank holdings.

13 - They're attacking people who are trying to grow their own food and live sustainably. Why would they do that? Control.

14 – Protests against their many activities at various public sites have been met with undue force, false arrests, etc.

15 – ALEC, their legislative bill-creation arm, has submitted identical bills across multiple state houses to create laws favorable to their agenda.

16 – They use the power of product defense, media ownership, propaganda, censorship, and false advertising to maintain their position.

17 – The “Secret” to their success is has not been the power of positive thinking, but precise, planned, multiple prongs of ACTION. Their positive thinking propaganda has been yet another way to control the population…by keeping us from actually DOING something about all of this. Yes, we’ll become rich and powerful by just thinking positively. Really?! They got that way by working together (conspiring) to take our economic and political power away from us.

Now, if you really have made it through to the end of this, there's more, but I think you get the gist. The only way out that I can see is that we withdraw every cent we've put into the banks and Wall Street. We've given them our own money to use to attack us. We can take our money back, and at least reduce some of their economic power. Let me summarize what's going on: The plan is to privatize as much as possible, enabling corporations to gain more control, power and profit.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Liberals Are Killing This Country? No, We Have Taxation Without Representation!

Liberals are not killing this country. Taxes are not evil. Stop listening to the propaganda of corporate-controlled Fox News and drinking the extreme right's Kool-Aid. If you recall, Bush came into the White House with a Democratic President-created budget SURPLUS, and rapidly changed that into a deficit. FACT!

Tax = revenue. When you don't tax, you have no revenue with which to run the infrastructure of this country. As I've posted here and, especially on Facebook, multiple times with charts and graphs and actual numbers to defend my case - the true facts (not buzz words, propaganda, lies, and rhetoric), the wealthiest Americans and corporate persons pay little to no taxes and less proportional Social Security tax compared to their income than do middle class Americans. With all the tax cuts, tax breaks, loopholes, and corporate welfare for corporations making record-breaking profits every quarter, that's one heck of a lot of revenue missing from our "baseline budget." Add to that the trillions of dollars we've spent on 3 wars, thanks for the first 2 to Bush and the third to Obama, we are STILL living in a war economy. When that happens, we usually increase taxes to pay for our war spending. What did Bush do? He cut taxes!

Baseline budgeting - get out of the wars, increase taxes (progressive, not regressive as it is now) on ALL Americans and corporations (which for the wealthiest Americans after WWII was a 90% tax rate, not the current 0-15% most actually end up paying these days) to pay for the wars, then reduce the taxes once you've paid off the war debt.

Yes, it is about budgeting. You want war? You need to raise taxes to pay for it. You want a government infrastructure so your country doesn't collapse? You make sure that ALL Americans are paying their fair share in taxes, because we all benefit. Want a viable, thriving middle class and economy? Create jobs in the USA and stop outsourcing where you can get away with paying slave wages and little to no benefits in order to increase your profits and CEO wages to ridiculously high amounts - morality and ethics be darned.

If the GOP extreme right were truly interested in helping America and Americans, they wouldn't have simultaneously introduced bills in multiple state legislatures to repeal minimum wage and child labor laws, and destroy labor unions and collective bargaining that protect the average worker from economic and personal abuse at the hands of their corporate masters. Average Americans are losing jobs, are underemployed, have their salaries frozen or cut, while the Lords of Industry have increased the income disparity (Gini coefficient) in this country to be close to that of Egypt. The average CEO earned 24x the average worker's pay in 1965. By 1979, they earned 35x more, in 1989 it was 71x more, in 1999 it was 300x more, in 2005 it was 262x more. Those same CEO's pay lower income tax rates than the average worker, and pay no Social Security tax on income over $106,800.

The people in power purposefully repealed the Glass-Steagall Act with the prior knowledge that deregulation would open the door for them to rape the economy through rampant speculation and mortgage-backed securities at the risk of another depression or recession. They did the dirty deed, and they got exactly what they wanted. It was the largest transfer of financial (including the speculative dollars, securities and bailouts) and property wealth (foreclosures) in history, and the transfer of wealth is still ongoing. The S&L debacle was their dry run.

So, don't tell me the Liberals are killing this country. We live in a corporate-controlled America. If you're an average American, you live like a vassal or serf under the watchful eyes of not-so-benevolent masters. To me, that is taxation without representation!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bring the Troops Home and Implement a Culture of Peace

‎Let's bring our troops home. Then, let's build a culture of peace, in which we honor the peacemakers above those who are behind the waging of war for profit. Let's build monuments to peace, rather than war. Let's require the addition of conflict resolution, mediation and negotiation to school curricula...worldwide. If you build it, they will come. When the perceived and real monetary value of peace and peacemakers becomes higher than that of war and warriors (no offense to veterans), peace will prevail over war in society. Conflict resolution, mediation and negotiation will prevail over violence, because those who follow non-violence will be the heroes, the most valued members of society, rather than just be considered misguided idealists.

What's Behind this Mess in the US...and Beyond? (or Feel Like You're Talking to a Wall?)

I really think what's behind all of this mess in the US and the rest of the world is a corporate cartel that includes the Koch brothers, ALEC, Big Oil and Gas, and many other corporate cronies who are using shock, fear and prejudice to sell their propaganda. It's the "it's all THEIR fault (the poor, the African-Americans, the teachers, the ____)" we work hard for our money, they just want entitlements" approach that they're using. They dangle their wealth and the (false) possibility of acceptance into their fold to their followers like a carrot on a stick. It's like what Hitler did to rise to, and increase his power, except this bloodless coup is by the extreme right.

They're playing their well-planned chess game perfectly, making certain they gut labor unions, worker's rights, repeal minimum wage and child labor laws, and cut the social safety net and other funding, while making certain they've stacked the courts in their favor by pushing tort reform, etc. This reduces people's access to the courts, and economically and politically represses the majority of the population. They've also blind-sided education with unfunded mandates that push ineffective reforms that require teachers to teach to the test, which research has shown reduces critical-thinking skills. Of course they want an uneducated populace that can't question what they're doing. All this is only part of what's been happening.

I knew there was something really weird going down when I spoke with lots of Republican state legislators this past Spring Break up in my state capital, and they all answered my budget question with the same, exact, rehearsed, canned reply...down to the dead expressions on their faces. I could have videotaped one, and the rest would have been as identical as the verbatum bills attacking education and labor that they and their colleagues submitted across multiple states at once. Yes, the bills were exactly the same. That did not happen by chance, nor were their Stepford Republican replies. It was really freaky and unnatural. There have been multiple bills submitted across multiple states in this same way, all in some way reducing our rights, including our right to vote.

Another hint is their unwillingness to compromise. They keep pushing and pushing until the Dems give in, then they take more steps back and force the Dems to compromise more. There has been no Rep. compromise. They are close to getting what they want, and that really scares me. They've also timed this well. In an era of abject, unaware voter apathy, we've let them take away our rights and our power (Citizens United).
The most telling clue about the existence of a corporate cartel is the revolving door through which those in the upper echelons of corporations move between their jobs and jobs in government. First, they have in-house corporate meetings, during which they determine the policies, laws, and regulations or deregulations that will most benefit their company. Then, they slide on through that door to whatever particular job they need to acquire in or to make those policies, laws, and regulations or deregulations happens. Of course, they don't recuse themselves, either. After that, they just slip right on back around into the corporate world, in which they are often rewarded with a more lucrative and powerful position or higher compensation and benefits. This is what happened with Dick Cheney's son-in-law Philip Perry.

The American public wonders why the financial market is deregulated or the environmental and consumer protections have evaporated. How could the financial meltdown have possibly "just" happened? It's all happened as planned! All because "we the people" have been apathetic and bought into the lies, propaganda and product defense of the corporate cartel. We're too "busy" to read between the 'lyings' to save our own Democratic Republic, and ourselves.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Would the Founding Fathers be Considered Liberals Today?

The Conservative economic and political plan has been to take from the middle class and the poor and give to the rich and the corporations. It's rather like anti-socialism. If the right-wing Conservatives give their full support to the rich and the corporations, they're certainly not representing the majority of "we the people." Funny, but I thought our Constitution was about the United States of America, a Democratic Republic founded of (all) the people, by (all) the people, and FOR (ALL) THE PEOPLE, not a small minority with a lot of $$$. If that's what the Conservatives now misdefine and misrepresent as socialism, then you'll find me standing firmly behind those liberal, socialist (Conservative's misdefinition) Founding Fathers of this country, thank you. What do you think?

Isn't mischaracterizing and mislabeling interesting? Sure beats rational thinking and facts.

Non-Violent Resistance: It's Time to Join the Ranks of Activists

Suffice it to say that our democratic republic becomes less democratic every day. If you want your constitutional rights to remain; if you still want access to the courts and fairness when you get there; if you want free and fair elections despite the Citizens United decision; if you want your government to actually represent you, rather than corporations, it is imperative that you become an activist.

What happened to Tim DeChristopher is one good reason. I won't waste your time or insult your reading skills by repeating Tim DeChristopher's story. This article will fill you in on the details: Here's a link to his statement to the court at his sentencing.

Ready to join the non-violent activist ranks? Start reading Gandhi's "Satyagraha." and other books like it, learn about and start training people in non-violent resistance, start organizing rallies and demonstrations, write letters to the editor, write/call/e-mail/visit your representatives in government, start educating the public with facts about who's behind our government (and this corporate-backed political and justice system is not just happening in America). I've only just begun, myself.

What I see here in the USA, with my own eyes, are attacks on organized labor, education (Corporate "Reform" that demonizes and scapegoats teachers, while promoting NON-FUNDED change that results in students less capable of critical thinking - AKA teaching to the test. They want an unthinking, uneducated populace. Remember that those behind most government takeovers attack the educated and education, first?), and attempts across our country to repeal minimum wage and child labor laws. I know that the education reform laws were actually bent on taking down the National Education Association (one of the largest unions in the country) in multiple states (remember what happened in Wisconsin?) and that ALL the bills were submitted with EXACTLY the same words to get rid of collective bargaining, and the union along with it. Most importantly, I see those in power trying to pit us against each other in order to diffuse our collective power.

Economic and political repression are just two of the means by which those in power attempt to maintain the status quo. They have the deep pockets and media outlet ownership with which to control government and produce the public relations, propaganda and product defense with which they can sway unsuspecting citizens. They control the courts (Citizens United decision) and, now through that decision, election results. They control our access to the courts through recent tort reform laws. People need to make some serious choices - NOW! Are you for humanity or for power and profit? If you're for humanity, remove the wool from in front of the sheep's eyes and uncloak the wolves in sheep's clothing! Caveat - do this all non-violently.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Be a Light That Won't Be Dimmed - RIP Amy Winehouse

Rebelling against authority by drugging and drinking yourself to death is an oxymoron.

On the other hand, I've experienced hurt and pain so deep and dark that I've wondered if I could possibly survive. There were a few times when I really didn't want to survive, but knew I must...
...and I'm not alone in any of this.

I'm so sad that someone as intelligent, creative and talented as Amy Winehouse went down that well-traveled, self-destructive path. Better to use your creative energy and intelligence to find positive ways to heal yourself. It's not easy, but is worthwhile. Then, be successful, stay healthy, and live a long life during which you can rebel unceasingly against authority. Be a light that won't be dimmed. My deepest condolences go out to her family and friends. Hopefully, others will learn to not follow her self-destructive path. We can't afford to lose anyone in this way because all people are beautiful and valuable. If only we were unafraid to love and hold each other in the light of that love. If only we loved ourselves enough to reach out to others through the pain...
Another bright light has dimmed and extinguished itself.

Teachers in the Trenches!

When good teachers get tired of being demonized and scapegoated, their collective bargaining rights attacked or shredded, and are so adversely impacted by salary, benefit and retirement cuts they leave the profession, that negatively impacts education. Teachers can't pay their bills or live on their goodwill towards their students.

Lots of teachers in my district have retired or quit in the past few years. Many of them have left the state. Even more teachers are thinking about retiring or quitting, and many of them want to leave Nevada. Teachers have been surplused, RIF'd. The Clark County, Nevada unemployement rate is about 14%, and we are #1 in the nation in foreclosures. Teachers are a part of these statistics, too. There are teachers living on food stamps. Teachers are also now homeless.

After our salaries were frozen for the past couple of years, my school district has now decided to unilaterally cut our salaries beginning this month, going against our negotiated contract. They also want to get rid of our health trust in favor of a less-expensive (for them), lower quality of care provider. This will increase my monthly premiums to almost match my mortgage payment! I'm unable to afford this, so if they get away with this, I'll be joining the ranks of the tens of millions of medically uninsured Americans.

Teachers have to pay back tens of thousands of dollars in school loans for our education degrees. We also pay thousands of dollars to acquire the additional education credits mandated by our state in order to maintain our licenses. In addition, we pay thousands of dollars out of our own pockets for additional education in order to meet the non-funded No Child Left Behind federally-mandated requirements in order to reach Highly Qualified status. We pay thousands of our own dollars in education to move over in salary scale so that we can finally attain a living wage. We supplement the education of our state's children out of our own pockets when we buy classroom supplies, and books for our classroom libraries. Food, energy and other prices have skyrocketed around us. Yet, we found we had no choice in good conscience but to agree to freeze our own pay for the past two years, due to State and District budget constraints, so that WE could save other teachers' jobs in order to keep our students' class sizes lower. Oh, and we also pay for our students' education with our own tax dollars. Then, we get asked to "share the sacrifice?" Really?!!!

If Nevada's Governor Sandoval and state legislators really want to attract new business to our state in order to diversify and improve our economy, look at how you're negatively impacting educators and education. Your bottom line shouldn't include cutting our children's education and their future by slashing their education funds and attacking their educators.

To all educators:
When people get pushed up against a wall, and they want to survive, they'll find any way they can to get around, under, or over the wall. Hopefully, they'll be smart enough to join together, help each other, and lift each other up to find a way to survive. When we all work together, we can accomplish miracles. When we fight each other, only a few win, and we create a lot of losers. It is when there are too many losers that organizations, societies and governments fall. History tends to repeat itself. Let's work to lift each other up for ourselves, our families, and our students.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Who's Really in Charge?

Let's begin with our legislators funding Big Oil with our tax dollars, while Big Oil rakes in record-breaking profits. An Exxon representative actually stated that our gas prices are 30-40% higher than they should be because of rampant speculation on Wall Street. In addition to the extraordinary increases in gas prices, the same speculation is currently driving up our food prices. Plus, legislators and their corporate buddies want to circumvent Dodd-Frank? Really???!!! Do they also really want to get rid of the regulations of the FDA, EPA, FCC, etc. to no longer retain consumer and environmental safety and protection? Cut the social safety net? Repeal Minimum Wage? Cut education budgets? Did legislators in different states "independently" write bills that duplicate, word-for-word, bills independently introduced in many other states, to get rid of collective bargaining and due process for public employees? Want to handicap the odds on those duplicated words being an "accident?" Break public unions?

Anybody finally see where this is really headed, yet? Especially after they created the budget crisis by purposefully removing the protective regulations that would have prevented it from happening, in addition to creating the derivatives market that ignited the blast that blew our economy apart (this is also going on elsewhere, obviously)? What about the mortgage meltdown they created? Was the earlier Savings and Loan scandal a dry run or an unsuccessful plan? We are still in the midst of the greatest transfer of financial and property wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy in history! What do you think will happen when we have nothing left, and they've got it all?

One chemical company, Monsanto, owns over 90% of the food seeds, and is reserving them from public use in favor of their own genetically modified seeds. These seeds require the use of tremendous amounts of toxic chemicals to grow. Where's our food security? What do you think will happen to our clean air, water and soil without the EPA? What do you think will happen when there is no longer an educated public who can question things? What do you think will happen to our somewhat free press when they get rid of the FCC? Free and fair elections after Citizens United? Future passports and other forms of identification that will track our whereabouts? Does 2+2=4 yet? Trust them to do the right thing without regulations, oversight, or laws to prevent abuse? Not on your life! I'm not naive, ignorant, stupid, or uneducated.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

On this Mother's Day, I'd like to wish all moms a peaceful and beautiful day. To my mother, may your memory be eternal. I love you and miss you tremendously.

This was such a beautiful day, spent with some of my California family. Sharing a delicious meal with people you love and have known most of your life is such a wonderful gift. After brunch, we went to the local Farmer's Market where I ran into a former student and her mom. This young lady is now a sophomore in HS, earns straight A's, is in honors and AP classes, is in JROTC, and wants to become a nurse. I am so proud of her!

When I got back home, I opened up my Facebook account only to find the most wonderful present - a video of my little godson wishing me a Happy Mother's Day.

When you're given such a perfect day, surrounded by the love of family and friends, how could you not appreciate all the beauty and joy life has to offer?.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nevada's Education Budget

It has been quite some time since I updated this blog. I hope all of you have been well. These times in our country are difficult, at best, but my hope is that things will improve.

Sometimes it seems impossible to maintain one's own sense of peace in the midst of chaos. Keeping that peaceful center has been the most challenging aspect of my life recently. I feel like I'm in the eye of a hurricane, and whichever way the wind ends up blowing, I'll still be in a world of trouble and hurt.

I'm speaking of Nevada's Education Budget. First of all, I believe the Nevada State, Clark County, and Clark County School District budgets should all be transparent and made available to unions and our citizens in order to independently confirm the true state of those budgets. People want to know if things are really as bad as those in high office say they are, before we reduce salaries and cut jobs. There may be better ways to save monies than by playing with people's lives and livelihoods.

I just spent four days of my Spring Break in my state capital, Carson City, working to advocate for education and, especially, for my students. I appreciate all the time our state legislators spared to meet with myself and my colleagues. What was so disappointing was what I learned.

There are many legislators who are blindly following in lockstep with our Governor's proposed budget plan. Many of them literally and robotically stated, "I am supporting Governor Sandoval's plan." Weren't they elected to represent their constituents? How do their constituents want them to vote on this budget? I most certainly did not hear enough evidence to convince me that they are actually working for their constituents. Following party lines is all well and good, but not when that distances them from the will of the people who elected them.

As an educator, my profession has been demonized and even scapegoated as the cause of the budget woes of my state. My colleagues and I work hard to educate children, even using some of our own monies to supplement those of our school district, to ensure a better education for our students. We did not create the budget crisis, yet the shortfalls are going to be balanced on our backs and those of our students, the children of Nevada.

My state does not have a non-volatile, dedicated revenue source to fund education, so we usually end up with education cuts as soon as there are economic problems. A large part of the education budget is in salaries. Being highly qualified is State-mandated, and personally costs each teacher tens of thousands of dollars in education to achieve that Highly Qualified status in order to maintain his or her state license to teach in Nevada. Without a highly qualified teacher in each classroom, there is no one to educate Nevada's children. Why would anyone spend tens of thousands of dollars to obtain a Master's Degree and not be compensated with some adequate combination of salary and benefits? Would you?

Share the sacrifice is the mantra these days. We were sacrificing even during the years of prosperity by not being allowed to fully participate in the shared benefits that many of those employed in the private sector enjoyed for many years. Nevada State has been consistently on the bottom end of the list of states in per pupil expenditures for many years, including those years of prosperity. Although I absolutely agree with adequately compensating police officers and firefighters, our 4% increase over two years compared to a 26% or so increase in one year cannot exactly be called a shared benefit. We were simply "granted" minimal funding during those years of prosperity. Now in the lean times, we have not had a wage increase. Those salaries we earned through hard work and paying out of our own pockets, to further our education in order to become better teachers and earn a living wage, are now on the chopping block. The new budget actually cuts compensation for what the education our state mandates its teachers achieve. It also provides for less-than-adequate funding for the education of Nevada's children, our most precious resource. The latter is both immoral and unethical. A teacher's working conditions are our student's learning conditions.

Being an extremely lean state in the area of taxation has created a deep hole in my state's revenues. The Nevada state budget is so lean, one of the leanest in the United States, that education makes up more than 50% of our state budget, yet our per pupil expenditures are at the bottom compared to education funding in almost every other state. Those who want to drastically cut education say we've increased education spending tremendously in the past few decades. Well, of course we have. Our population also exponentially increased during that same time period. What do you expect would be required when rapid population growth creates the fifth largest school district in the country? Then, when education funding was tied to property taxes in a volatile market with so much speculation, sub-prime mortgages, mortgage fraud, and one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country, just what did people think would happen? Nevada state has been literally gambling with the education of its own children, who are the future of our state. Now, it's the teachers and our students who are paying the price of this gamble. You can't get much lower than the bottom in education spending, but Governor Sandoval and some legislators are trying to do just that. They want to redefine the very minimum of spending, justifying their cuts with whatever non-mainstream research they can find, whether or not it's actually valid.

I attempted to begin a dialogue about dedicated revenue sources for education with some legislators, so that the state doesn't have to continually play these budget games with education. They stated that we're in a budget crisis. So, I asked, why can't we deal with that AND look to the future of education in Nevada by finding multiple revenue sources to fund education so that we are never stuck in this situation again? I stated that maybe we should raise taxes, or even create a state income tax. Many legislators, mostly Republican, looked at me as if I were an alien from Area 51. They are so against any taxes, that they're willing to sacrifice the education of our children, and the future of our state along with it. Many legislators won't even touch the mining tax, which hasn't changed since the first Nevada State constitution of 1864. Nevada State is the 3rd largest producer of gold on the planet, behind the entire continents of Australia and Africa. We are the 2nd largest silver producer in the USA behind the state of Alaska. With so much of our non-renewable resources being extracted out of our state, why are we in a budget crisis? Tax revenues provide the funding for the state infrastructure, yet they don't want to raise the few taxes we have, and refuse to posit any new taxes. Some legislators in Carson City stated that they want to lower our sales tax rate to 7.75%, raise business taxes on small businesses, and to further lower taxes on big business. This will further reduce tax revenues tremendously during a budget crisis! You can't have your cake and eat it, too.

Many politicians and the corporate media who favor them also seem to believe that the public relations practice of demonizing teachers (most of whom are doing a fine job) by focusing on the few ineffective teachers will create more support from the public for broad education budget cuts. They say that few ineffective teachers are fired, which is not true. In addition, many ineffective teachers are either let go during or at the end of their probationary status or leave the profession on their own. Fifty percent of the teachers that go into teaching leave the profession within five years. How many other professions have such a high attrition rate?

They also state that our low test scores prove that most of Nevada's teachers are ineffective. Well, of course our test scores are lower. Unlike other states who test their students at the end of the school year on a full school year's worth of curriculum, Nevada State law requires we test our students at the end of the second trimester. What kind of test results would you expect?

We also aren't comparing apples with apples when we look at test scores. All states don't use the same number of students in subgroups in reporting their test results. Nevada State has set a much higher standard than do most other states. We use much lower numbers of students in our subgroups, which requires us to report the test results of that subgroup. When we use 25 students as the number of students in a particular subgroup, this requires a school that has at least 25 students in that subgroup to report their scores. When you compare this to states that use 200 or 300 students in a subgroup, as is the practice in many other states, they effectively never have to report the test scores of students in that subgroup. Those scores also never get factored into the reports of that school's Annual Yearly Progress report. This practice of fudging data artificially inflates the scores of that state's schools, that state's performance in testing, as well as its educational ranking among other states. Nevada does not do this, so our scores and ranking are lower than others, in comparison. If the majority of other states followed Nevada's practice of using lower subgroup numbers, I'm certain Nevada's ranking in education in the United States would skyrocket. On the other hand, that would remove the ability of some legislators to use "ineffective" teachers as an excuse to "reform" education and cut our education budget.

Earlier this week, I met with our State Treasurer Kate Marshall, who broke down the unemployment rate by level of education. Our overall state unemployment rate is 13.4%. Nevada State unemployment rates by education level are as follows:

College graduate: 4 - 4.5%
HS graduate: 10 - 10.5%
Non-HS graduate: ~ 14.5%

From the looks of it, being educated increases one's chances of employment (Unless you are a teacher in Nevada. I wonder what the unemployment rate for college graduates will look like this time next year, after they lay off between 2,000 to 6,000 employees in the Clark County School District (it's the 5th largest school district in the USA) and 200 in the Washoe School District, in addition to the layoffs in other districts statewide?). As the labor pool increases, wages go down. Low wages don't attract educated workers to our state. We do have a large number of people in our state who are uneducated or who only have a high school diploma, many of whom make relatively low wages. However, if you are a valet or a dealer for a major casino, you probably make more than do most teachers with a Master's Degree and more than ten years of experience. Good for them! They, too, deserve to make a living wage.

Nevada State competes in a global economy, yet maintains a predominantly service-based economy. If our state really wants low unemployment rates and desires to attract other types of businesses to our state to diversify our economy, we need an educated workforce to compete globally. To do this, we need an adequately funded education system, from pre-K through University. We also need to reward teachers for furthering their education. An uneducated teacher is an oxymoron. Our state will prove how much it values education, its teachers, and its students by how it funds education and pays its teachers based on their level of educational attainment. Business owners outside of Nevada are watching.

Repeatedly taking a broad sword to the education budget will NOT produce an educated workforce; rather, it may create an exodus, rather than an influx, of an educated populace who are a valuable part of the state's tax revenue, knowledge and leadership base. Honestly, if I were living elsewhere, or if I were a business owner looking to relocate my business and my family, I would not move to Nevada because I want to live in a state that values and properly funds education. As a lifelong learner, my options for college and graduate-level study are being drastically cut. If I wanted to change careers and remain in Nevada, my opportunity to retrain is being limited by these cuts, as our public universities are being forced to cut entire programs.

If I were thinking of going into teaching, as a logical choice or for monetary gain, I would find another profession. I would not choose to work in a profession that is demonized and those in it treated with contempt and disrespect. I would not go into a profession which some politicians are intent on union-busting, in order to strip a teacher's right to collectively bargain and have basic due process rights, in order to get rid of more highly-paid and experienced teachers. They want to pay lower wages so they can balance the state budget, rather than do what's right for Nevada's children by adequately funding education, as well as paying a living wage to their teachers.

If you believe that a teacher is nothing more than a glorified babysitter, PLEASE pay me the minimum wage for babysitting each student. I won't even charge you for all the work I regularly do before and after my work day or during the weekend. Let's see, that's $7.55 per hour x 7.5 hours of work in a day = $56.625 per student. Multiply that times the 28 students I "babysit" and I'd earn $1585 per day times the 184 days I work in a year. Hmmm, that's a total of $291,732. I'll gladly take that, especially with the higher class sizes my legislators will be sending me next school year! If you want to know what I make as a teacher, well, in terms of money, it is many orders of magnitude less than babysitting would pay. In terms of my students, I work hard to make a positive difference in their lives. I am proud to be their teacher and want nothing but the best for each and every one of them. I empower everyone to go into teaching, and to help remind the public, the media, and our legislators of the value of education. It's not, "Those that can't do, teach." It's more like, "Those that can do well, teach."

People don't go into teaching for the money, although teachers do expect to be paid a fair, living wage. The pay-for-performance business model works for creating widgets in a factory. How dare people treat my students as if they are nothing more than a bunch of widgets in a teaching factory with a simple set of rules to follow to reach a clear, straightforward solution! Yes, rudimentary cognitive thinking is needed to teach. In fact, teaching requires the highest level of thinking, metacognition. Watch the TEDtalk by Dan Pink on the science of motivation. The link is at the end of this post. This research illustrates why pay-for-performance incentives will not work, and will also probably harm teaching. It also shows why politicians and business-people, all of whom are outside of education and most of whom have never even taught in a classroom, are the last people to determine how to reform education. If you want effective education reform, ask the teachers who are still in the trenches. Give us the autonomy to use our mastery and intrinsic motivation towards the purpose of reforming education from the inside. Education reform is not, however, going to solve the budget crisis.

"'The SILVER Spark rebuild Nevada's economy by igniting innovation and creating knowledge-based jobs that are key to the overall economic development strategy...,' said Sandoval. ...studies have pointed to knowledge-based jobs as the basis for building these economic goals." (

Which comes first, providing adequate funding for education in order to expand and diversify our economy, or having a vibrant and diverse economy that provides adequate funding for education? Gutting education douses the spark before anyone can even dream of expanding the light of education. With these drastic cuts, there will never even be a spark, silver or any other color.

Here is the link to the TEDtalk by Dan Pink on the science of motivation: