While the ongoing corruption, incompetence, and programmed failure of the Los Angeles Unified School District as an educational institution is bad enough, when one measures the continuing abysmal results that this purposefully failed system has had with those unlucky enough to have no alternative for their education, what is far worse are the archaic values it promotes that continue to be touted and unquestioningly accepted by the majority of our society, who themselves are a product of this public education system where critical thinking is not abided.
This weekend, while the extreme shortage of teachers that was projected only three years ago, based on the imminent retirement of 50% of baby boomer teachers over the next few years, seems to have been forgotten, when United Teachers Los Angeles unquestioningly agreed to 4 furlough days in lieu of the initial 12 that LAUSD had put out there to scare the memory challenged and spineless leadership of UTLA. UTLA folded because those running the union and the district have succeeded in selling teachers and others on the idea that there is little if any value in what teachers do and that anybody could do it. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In asking where this view comes from, one only had to look at the Sunday, May 29, 2011 business section of the Los Angeles Times to see how the value of a supposed professional teacher at the top of the salary scale- before furlough days- did alongside of California’s Top 100 CEOs. All of whom, with the exception of Apple’s Steve Jobs, who received no compensation, and Google’s Eric E. Schmidt, who received only $300,000 for a partial year, received compensation in the millions with increases over the previous years of as much as 217%. Occidental Petroleum’s Ray R. Irani received a total pay package of $76.3 million dollars for the year. It is reassuring to know that the bad economy is not keeping everybody down.
This means that when one compares a teacher at the top of the salary scale, who is making a basic salary of $78,000 a year, with Mr. Irani of Occidental Petroleum, one discovers that Mr. Irani is worth 975.64 times what a teacher makes. Does anybody really believe that those running major corporations in California are worth that much more by any measure?
Several other questions come to mind: Is there any job on the face of the earth that is worth 975 time more than what another hard working human being is doing, no matter what it is, and, if so, by what metric? How much is enough and at what point does making more money at the expense of the other human beings that occupy this globe actually become an exercise in futility and of diminishing return, where the capital necessary to sustain a decent quality of life for all human beings is so compromised by some people being pigs that all human existence is threatened.
The mistake that our species has made going back at least 4641 years to the building of the first pyramids in Egypt, where extreme wealth was used to try and avoid dealing with human mortality. It seems that the majority of us would rather equate a successful life with how much money a person made than by asking how much is enough to live well in the fleeting moment we spent in what could be paradise, if we only comported ourselves differently. But that is something that we would have to learn in school by observing better models than the ones that have been allowed to run this critical function of our society.
Instead, there is a belief that seems to be accepted by the majority of this society that making more money means that you are doing better. As if past Superintendent Ramon Cortines wasn’t making enough money at $250,000 a year plus a very generous benefits package, the new Superintendent John Deasy now makes $275,000, while also receiving a very nice benefits package far beyond what any teacher makes. Alas, poor Superintendent Deasy only makes 3 1/2 times what a teacher at the top of the LAUSD salary scale makes.
Why is that and what is it based on? It’s not as if LAUSD under any of the last superintendents has succeed in turning around the continuing failure of LAUSD’s ability to educate all students. Do you think that if LAUSD decided to give me back my job as a teacher and promote me to the superintendent’s position that I could do any worse of a job for $78,000 than these highly paid vacuous platitude mouthing suits? This archaic value of paying an obscene amount of money in a social and economic reality where everyone else has to take less can only take place as the end product of fundamentally compromised educational system that only teaches blind obedience instead for rationale thought.
In the video, the late George Carlin puts it rather succinctly when he says, “They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking.” Better to sell the false belief that intelligence is genetic to cover for destroying the innate intelligence of so many poor people in this country with the worst educational deprivation being reserved for Blacks and Latinos.