Sunday, May 15, 2011

Hump A Teacher

So I accompanied Ilse yesterday to a grade-in at my not-quite local mall (my local mall is busy dying, though brave teachers were grading there, too).

"What the fuck," you might quite rightly ask, "is a grade-in?" 

Well, here's the thing. You probably remember last autumn, when I went briefly insane, currying favor and disfavor (probably, though they're both kind enough not to admit it) with local political figures like Nancy Floreen and Hans Riemer, both of whom have been far more gracious than I have deserved. We're no longer in election mode, and chickens are roosting and suchlike, especially when it comes to money.

Money is coming home to roost in a big way here in MoCo. There isn't enough of it, mostly because shameless huckster fucktard panderer Robin Ficker (whose name, my German-speaking friends assure me, is hilarious) spurred county voters into passing an idiotic charter amendment in 2008 to limit property tax increases to the rate of inflation without a unanimous vote of the County Council. There are competing proposals on raising property taxes within the charter limit--the one I support isn't Phil Andrews', which is a blowjob for the rich fucks in his district (of which I am, technically, one). An attaboy to Hans for publicly trashing The Blowdried Green's gratuitous sex act for his North Potomac and Actual Potomac money. Yeah, Phil. We're onto what green really means for you. Bitch.

First unanswerable question for my friends Nancy and Hans: who's blocking a higher tax increase? Bonus points, of course, for blaming Phil Andrews, though I'd also reward a thorough pummelling of Valerie Ervin.

So, the apostrophe1. As you found out in the original Val-bashing post, Ilse was surplused at the school at which she's nearly completed her second year of teaching. It's a sad thing, because it's an awesome school and she fits in well there. I'm not telling you which school--if you know me, you already know, and if you don't know me, it would be too much information, and if you know me and you've forgotten, you know how to find me. Lots of teachers were surplused this year because of a dramatic increase in average class size, despite the county's meretricious assurance that that increase equals "one." I'll save you a trip to the Landru English Dictionary: "meretricious" means "lying sacks of fetid shit." The increase was about 16 percent, from an average class size of 29 to an average of 34. A lot of teachers, especially in big academic departments, are moving to other schools involuntarily, and it's not yet clear whether they've all got places to go. I don't have any firm figures on how many--there are 11,000 teachers in the county--but my best educated guess is that something like 5 percent of teachers were involuntarily transferred, and I have no education from which to guess on how many will end up unemployed. Corrections from people with actual data are welcome.

It will cheer you--and, I'm guessing Hans, who can now have lunch with me without fearing my righteous holy overeducated, overcaffeineated (hi, Nancy) MoCo wrath--that Ilse landed at another school, and that the aforementioned possibilities of her remaining at her current school (it's the preference) are not entirely exhausted. So it's slightly less personal now.

But I'm a man of the people, hence the grade-in. Let's talk briefly about MoCo teachers, remembering that Maryland has some of the best schools in the country, and MoCo's are the best in the state, by far:

-MCPS has gone through three years of budget cuts. The BoE has delivered a budget request that cuts per-student spending by about $1K from last year's levels, despite the state's maintenance-of-effort law (which the county has now, it appears, decided to completely ignore--and again, I'll cheerfully accept a cogent and apolitical explanation of how that makes sense, because it's hard for me to understand how the cost of the fines is going to be less than the costs of keeping up with the MOE requirement).

-The county has, for at least two years running, violated its contract with the teachers union.

-Starting teachers in MoCo now make less than starting teachers in DC, an educational cesspool.

-While the Council and the BoE seem to want to pin more sacrifices on teachers by increasing (again) their share of health insurance costs (again breaking the contract), and claim teachers need to sacrifice along with other county employees, the teachers' plan costs the county less per capita than its other union health plans.

-The County is using portions of a $65-million increase in state funding for public education for other purposes.

-Finally, if you dare to speak to me about how teachers are babysitters who get the summer off, I'll punch you in the fucking gob. Ilse busts her ass outside of the school duty day, to her family's detriment, to grade schoolwork and plan lessons for her students. Now, she's a fucking freak, but that's a personal issue and it's mostly between her and me. Almost all teachers work evenings and weekends to keep up, and many (including Ilse) work on professional development in the summer.

People don't get this stuff. So yesterday, the teachers put on a little demonstration of what they do on the weekends. They gathered innocently at local mall food courts, and sat down and graded papers or did planning work. It was actually pretty awesome:

Monkey Mall Food Court, 11:40 AM
Monkey Mall Food Court, 11:46 AM--Note Predominantly Purple Overtones
Two Random Teachers Who I've Never Seen Before In My Life, Hard At Work
You might think it's kind of a cheesy stunt, but reality is like this: these are the same kind of people that Scott Walker wants you to believe are union thugs. These people, easily over a hundred of them at one venue for the grade-in, are the people who keep our longstanding covenant to have the best fucking school system in the state. And the county wants to break its covenants with them? Again and again?

Keep pushing. The last school strike was devastating. I believe that the next one will occur during Ilse's career, and sooner rather than later, given the political and budget climate. These are the people behind the Apple Ballot. Duchy Trachtenburg found out what happens when you try to break it off in their asses.

Second unanswerable question for my friends Nancy and Hans: Whatcha gonna do?

1 I really don't understand how anyone can not get that lyric. But this probably goes back to my whole Hamiltonian democracy thing2.
2 By which I mean we should find a way to disenfranchise fucktards without other fucktards using that as an excuse to disenfranchise people who've had limited opportunities. But then, that's the apostrophe3, isn't it?  
3 Uh-oh. Recursive loop.


Sasha said...

Love but I have to be a bit unpredictable here. Yes, Hans and Nancy, what are you going to do. But (in all weird Sasha-type fairness) what are all the rest of you going to do too?

And fellow travelers .. uh .. citizens, what are you going to do about that Robin Ficker crap? Surely you know better.

And Landru? Hold the damn camera still.

Gothmog said...

Isn't Robin Ficker the Jordan heckler guy? I had no idea people took him seriously about anything.

Nice post. In the past 5 years, we've had three people who joined our faculty after retiring from the business world, wanting to doing something both fun and philanthropic in their retirement. A way to "give back," so to speak. None of them lasted a full year.

Those who can, teach. Those who cannot, pass laws about teaching.

Sasha said...

Yes, that's who Robin Ficker is. Also a disgusting excuse for a human. Google is your friend because if I try sputum will soil my screen.