Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Thursday
    Apr282011

    The Worst of Times

    "The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments." ~William E. Borah

    Congress has been enjoying a two vacation in their districts. And by ‘enjoying’ I mean, subjecting themselves to what can be the most difficult part of their jobs; answering to their constituents by way of Town Hall meetings.

    Here’s a visual:



    And this one, too:



    (both via Crooks and Liars)

    I’m torn between smirking from the hilarity of watching the likes of Paul Ryan sneak through small town Wisconsin and disgusted by the behavior of adults. I understand anger with politicians and I’m pretty sure most people have honestly thought of hurling something at the television during the Sunday morning talk show circuit. But there’s a fine line between the first amendment and the joys of democracy and being a total shit head who should be arrested.

    It might be tired and a cliche but very true that if you aren’t angry then you aren’t paying attention. I think we’ve gone well past angry to livid especially in the face of unemployment and a giant ‘fuck you’ from the GOP to seniors and the poor by way of erasing Medicare and Medicaid. I nod when I see the passion in the voice of these people attempting to get their most likely well-off and employed member of Congress to understand their plight. We also live in a time where this hysteria and displeasure towards our elected officials can lead to the worst possible situation. A terrifying scenario that was once a ‘yeah right’ is now a distinct possibility.

    So, in a time where uncertainty prevails and passions run high, how do we go about traversing the tenets of democracy without falling off the deep end? I’m not asking because I have a response but because I really want to know how we got to this point and how we get back.
    Friday
    Apr082011

    A total collapse of leadership*

    "A political leader is necessarily an imposter since he believes in solving life's problems without asking its question." ~André Malraux

    Yesterday morning I did a presentation for NYSUT - the state teacher's union - retirees on the 112th congress and the changing political dynamics and yadda yadda yadda it all ended with me announcing that we're pretty much screwed. See also; Canada is just four hours north. Who's with me?

    I've kept mum on the Shutdown Showdown not just due to general time constraints of moving back to Washington three weeks ago but also because of the mixed feelings that come with such a predicament. Let me say that there are no winners or losers or who comes out on top in this debacle. It's a showdown shit show and is embarrassing. Here we are, the so-called leaders of the world, the ones who feel compelled to swoop in and save other countries and yet we cannot be responsible for saving ourselves.

    Congress is elected to do a job and that job, as a branch of government is to move us forward. To be at an impasse six months into Fiscal Year 2011 isn't irresponsible but detrimental to everyone in this country. Not just women on whom much of these last few hours of debate have centered on but people young and old, black and white, you get the point. It's a failure of the purpose of congress as a whole and the administration.

    I'm a little angry, as we all should be. Yesterday during my workshop I attempted jokes to lessen the blow only to have my anger resurface while watching the Senate a few short hours ago. I watched four men speak over each other in an effort to figure out how much time would be allowed for one Senator to speak on the floor. So if you're really looking into why the government is about to shutdown I ask you to look no further than the floor of the House or the Senate. We're shutting down because we can't get out of our own way and because we are averse to compromise, respect and listening. That's why.

    How do you feel about the shutdown? Are you freaking out? Are you indifferent? Are you outraged?
    NPR.org: What's closed and what's not

    What Planned Parenthood Actually Does





    *courtesy of Congresswoman Eshoo on the floor of the House this afternoon
    Wednesday
    Mar302011

    What happened to education?


    The school is the last expenditure upon which America should be willing to economize.  ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Over the past several weeks I have struggled with what or how to write about the the current education crisis. Something that extends far beyond simple budget cuts to a downright assault on educators, their rights, pensions and livlihood. All of the latter done under the guise of the aforementioned budget cuts but with an inexplicable and irrational maliciousness that doesn't seem to come from a place of wanting more and better for students in this country. Instead the retort seems to be that the people of X state elected me for this very reason. To what? Get rid of their kid's fourth grade teacher? To really put the nail in the coffin on how little regard people have for the education profession. Of course we technically need teachers but they're not really worth the (very little) money they're paid and while we're at it, we can always replace said teacher with a laptop. Yes! Genius!


    I am discouraged and disheartened as are most who have followed or been involved in the education community for some time. I'll tell you this; While I never wanted to be a teacher, I have always wanted to be an education policy wonk. Somone who is well versed in the machinations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and how it impacts state law. And now that I do just that for a living it hard for me to sit here and watch one of the most honorabl professions essentially be cast aside for wanting collective bargaining rights and some sort of security at the end of their careers.

    I keep hearing about 'shared sacrifice' or, actually, lack there of. When Wall Street went bankrupt and went to the federal government for funding I do not recall such outrage at providing them with the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). In fact it was encouraged for without Wall Street the stock market would diminish and all of the wealthy coroporations and their CEOs would be destitute. When these budget crises began no one asked for Wall Street to give up their million dollar bonuses or their multi-million dollar salary. Yet here we are, three years later, with teachers because asked to give up their pensions, salaries and jobs all in the name of sacrifice. We have a deficit, everyone needs to tighten their belts and give something up. So why isn't Wall Street being raided?

    My anger and lot in life clouds any rational thought. Then again my thought appears to be rational in that educators are the backbone for the future of this country and without quality education given by quality educators all future generations will find themselves out in the cold. It amazes me that this simple line of thinking hasn't been drilled into the heads of those governors lobbing attacks towards teachers and their formidable wealth - eye roll. Without the sacrifice of teachers and their time and their own money for often school districts cannot pay for the extras, we would all be screwed.

    What keeps people rallying and moving even though they are being striked from all sides is that thought of future and the necessity of the education profession. The knowledge that what happens today will be the staging point for what occurs 10, 15, 20 years from now. Do we want to look back and say 'remember when?' When teachers were good and needed and supported? I'd much rather say that we fought hard and long and for everything that happened we prevailed. The career that should mean more than that of an NBA star really did matter. But with everything that is going on today, right now, across the country, the future seems bleak. And it's that simple fact of a shadow over the horizon that keeps so many going. Educators are good at instilling hope into a child, so it's inevitable that they have it within themselves, too.

    NEA has a great resource on what is going on in what state . I encourage you to check it out.