When Teachers Are Valued

hanoi graduation

Graduation day for English-Translation-Editing class 29 Foreign Language Department, national Academy of Journalism & Communication, Hanoi

Late 1987, I was with a delegation representing a public employee union that visited then-Governor Evan Mecham at Arizona’s state capitol in Phoenix. We were concerned about what we felt was the rapid decline in respect for state employees serving in educational and correctional fields.

The meeting turned out to be a harbinger of policy for the national GOP as the governor told us, “…the problem with you people is that you need to find REAL jobs and stop living off of the Arizona tax payer…”

The current Republican Party platform on education states: “The federal government has no Constitutional authority to be involved in school curricula or to control jobs in the market place. This is why we will abolish the Department of Education…” One extremely sore point with the DOE, from a Republican point of view, is the awarding of Pell Grants to millions of low income students, students who will become part of the American work force and future leaders of industry, agriculture, and commerce.

As property tax dollars fund the local school districts, even the visually impaired see affluent areas will always have the best provided for educational districts. People of means living in marginal income areas always have private schools at their disposal. In today’s world this isn’t enough for the GOP, education — like health care — should be available only to those that can afford it and “each man for himself” regarding all others.

According to the now in place Republican mindset, ‘real’ people (corporations) deserve continued tax breaks as well as state and federal subsidies. What this in reality is ‘corporate welfare'; however, politicians label it ‘incentives for job creators’ as that sounds less offensive and distracts from the excessive salaries, bonuses, benefits upper managers make off the backs of their workers and the middle and lowers classes who actually have to pay a bill they did not run up.

hanoi graduatesSome cases in point include states that not only refuse to make corporations pay their fair share of taxes but continue existing tax exemptions. find themselves running a deficit, and then attempt to balance the budget off the backs of middle and lower classes, public employees, alleging such workers are “engaged in socialistic activities” and are “lavishly living off the tax payer”. This twisted mantra can be heard in all states governed by Republicans led by presidential has-beens and wannabes: Chris Christie in New Jersey; Rick Perry in Texas; Pat McCrory in North Carolina; Rick Scott in Florida; and Scott Walker is Wisconsin.

In Texas, North Dakota, and Arkansas right-wing extremist (the party of less government?) have linked secondary sex education classes for at-risk teens to Planned Parenthood and abortion. As such these lawmakers are in the process of revoking all sex education classes, defunding Planned Parenthood, and passing unconstitutional no abortion legislation.

The effect of corporations not being forced to pay their fair share of taxes is immediate in Chicago where 61 schools are scheduled to close; in Kansas City where 26 schools will shut down; in Cleveland another 16 slatted for closure; Detroit is looking at a minimum of 29 schools being scrapped. This list is very long and always affects low- to middle-income students.

Ironically, the GOP should be looking at another model for education. Numerous socialist nations provide free education and university for their residents as they recognize this is the only manner in which they will be able to compete regarding the now upon us global economy. But as this scheme would actually require corporations to pay taxes, it is somehow inherently ‘evil’ and not worthy of consideration.

During parts of 2011 and 2012, I had the privilege of teaching the now graduating class of ETE (English-Translation-Editing) 29 at the Academy of Journalism & Communication in Hanoi. Education in Vietnam is a matter of national, family, and individual pride. Most of my students came from a rural background whose families made well under $100/month. University staff are poorly paid, yet theirs is a lasting bond among nation, family, individual, university and teacher. Most city parks have monuments to teachers and mothers as they are regarding in the same category. There is a national Teacher’s Day.

jim rhodesDuring my tenure at AJC, I was overwhelmed at the support of the students, staff, administrators and even the guards and service personnel. Their motto seemed to be individual progress equals national progress. The GOP should learn a lesson from these students and the system they would demonize for it is far superior to what they are subjecting us to!

I regret not being able to attend the graduation of ETE 29 as I have medical issues that I am current involved in, but I assure my Republican friends if they had the attitude of the average educator in Vietnam, America would be a far better place.

James Rhodes

Monday, 13 May 2013

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Comments

  1. harry wood says

    There were teacher sitting in non school rooms in NYC earning their paychecks by reading the NY times or writing a new book. They are not allowed in classrooms due to some rule/rules they broke and until the issue is finnal, they sit and they are paid. Some have been doing this for years. I agree with you, either they are guilty of something or not. It should not take years to find the truth. Let them work or stop paying them.

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