Friday, March 25, 2011

News is Fun

Outside our local nation:

Opposition Brings Down Canadian Government

Huh? That sounds really impolite. But here's my favorite part of the story:
Canadian opposition parties brought down the Conservative government in a no confidence vote Friday, triggering an election that polls show the Conservatives will win.
Oh, wait. This is one of those square wheels things, right?

Not actually; I was being selective. While the Conservatives will likely win a plurality, they likely will not have a majority, and will be even more reliant on opposition parties for votes in their little minority government. Which could lead the Liberals to form their own coalition government with other opposition parties.

It's good that Canadians are emulating our success with minority government, eh?

In other news, My Local Locality's County Council President (oh, Christ...see here and in the same chronological area, if you can fucking stand it, for more background), whose name is Valerie Ervin, went on My Local Shove News Up Your Ass Until You Explode station today and bitched about the school system's increasing budget compared to the rest of the county's budget. What a genius of misrepresentation. For one thing, as noted ad infinitum here and elsewhere, the student population's increasing, and for another, there's a state law that requires the county not to reduce per-student spending on education.

Ervin crawled out on her astonishing slim limb three days after something like 8 to 10 percent of the county's teachers got involuntary transfer notices, meaning that their jobs at their present schools won't be there next year.

I read this, and immediately logged onto my secret Gmail account, figuring I had some chance of catching my very close personal friend Hans Riemer1 on Gmail chat. I got lucky, and Hans found out about two hours ago what you're finding out now: that the county teachers who got involuntary transfer notices, and whose jobs are threatened, includes a treasured constituent of his, who also happens to be my wife.

It seems that, as a result of planning decisions made by people who are not Hans Riemer (or Valerie Ervin, for that matter), average class size in our schools for next year will increase from 29 students to 34. That's a 17-percent increase, and Newtonian math leads to a 17-percent reduction in teachers. Reality intercedes there--the relationship isn't a straight line (and fractions are harder to deal with in lightly staffed departments--sadly for Ilse, she's in a large department). Hence the 8-10 percent estimate.

It's possible that I protest too much, at least on Ilse's behalf. For one thing, her principal is a seriously greasy operator, and he seems to like her, which is unusual for him and teachers generically. There's a fair chance that he'll manage to slime her back into his budget. For another, most of the teachers cut are lightly experienced. So's Ilse, who is in her fourth year of teaching for real. However, she's got experience at three schools (this isn't the first time she's been surplused), and glowing recommendations from all three. And I mean they glow like Fukushima No. 4--she's a young teaching rockstar. This also means that she's relatively inexpensive. All in all, an attractive prospect for any job for which she applies; the trick is whether there will be jobs that she wants. Or jobs at all.

Anyway, I ripped Hans a little in Gmail chat, and he's a good human, so his response was primarily concern for Ilse (who also did a little work for him during the campaign, and who looks damn good at receptions and suchlike). I mostly ripped Ervin, and Hans is a smart human and didn't explicitly agree with me. Well played, Hans. My white cat and I will make another run at you sometime soon.

For extra giggles, see the comments section of the WTOP article I cited above, where one genius asserted that there are 250,000 "illegal immigrants" in Montgomery County. That would be a quarter of the county's population. I'll tell you what, people who think illegal immigration is an actual problem: I'll support checking peoples' immigration status before they receive government benefits, if you support disenfranchising fucktards.

1 I have this mental picture of what Hans must look like every time he thinks of the day he called me on the telephone to solicit my vote, and of every email he innocently replied to in the days shortly thereafter, which is probably every time I reach out to him by phone or email. Hans seems to be gracious enough to believe that any publicity is good publicity, and of course he gets beaucoup points for that, as a human and as a pol. But I've got at least 3-4 more years to teach him an awful lot about that little bit of folk wisdom, hmm?


Sasha said...

25% of the county may be diplomats and their kids though ... maybe he's confused. Perhaps he thinks that women with accents who wear $700 shoes must be illegals.

You have the best words! frutrou

ilse said...

Part of what kills me is that the county keeps insisting that there will be an average increase of one student per class. While mathematically probably true -- looked at across the county, there might be an AVERAGE of one per class -- it's disingenuous. And increasing every class 5 students means for the secondary teacher that they get an additional 25 students (5 per class), which is essentially teaching 6 periods instead of 5.

Quality of education is about to go down significantly.

Sasha said...

"Quality of education is about to go down significantly." Be good if they didn't find a way to blame the teachers for that.