Tag Archives: Teachers

How Dare You Kate Brown!

1 Oct

Watching the myriad Knute Buehler commercials on every network seems to address how truly systemic, institutional, and ubiquitous misogyny is, even here in “progressive” Oregon. How dare you, Kate Brown for being an effective, smart, and strong woman. Don’t you know that here in the United States we don’t want to see or hear smart and strong women? Watching the Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas hearings 27 years ago to watching the Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh hearings this week, it is painfully clear that we don’t want women’s voices in government. So who is going to save the country? Who will save Oregon? It looks to me like some angry women in elevators (true heroes, Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila) will save the country, and I think Kate Brown is the woman to lead Oregon and who will remove barriers for all who carry targeted identities.

It is particularly difficult to watch the almost comical lies Buehler is spreading about Governor Brown. His lies range from the outrageous to the insane. I’m waiting for Buehler to blame Brown for the Scotts Mills earthquake that hit Oregon in 1993, or that she orchestrated the tsunami that just hit Indonesia–my she is powerful. Let us unpack some of the lies, so that we can all be better informed–granted this is for people who are concerned with facts, since facts have now become passè with Buehler and the Republican party. Let’s address the big ole lie regarding his blaming Brown for Oregon ranking number 48 in public schools. The fact is that, sadly, we already held that ranking before Brown became governor. Moreover, I need to underscore that Herr Buehler voted against creating smaller class sizes and voted against increasing teacher wages; this behavior/voting record only contributes to weakening our public schools. Buehler also lays the problem of homelessness at the feet of Brown–wow! Really? This attack is so unseemly and categorically false, yet I fear people will believe him because he is using the GOP method of lying: “just keep repeating it and people will eventually think it is true.” What is also disturbing is that Buehler has no realistic plan to address the system of poverty and homelessness. Whereas Governor Brown has been working to address poverty and remove barriers from people experiencing homelessness. It is also nice to see that President Obama endorsed Governor Brown.

Rep. Buehler’s website contains many “issues” pages with one common theme: start with a rant against Gov. Brown with no facts or substance, then spout lofty, vague platitudes about “working together” and “solving problems”. How committed is he to addressing Oregon’s problems? According to his voting record, not very. Over the past five years, he has voted against all of the following: statewide access to healthcare, requiring coverage for abortions and contraception, extending gun purchase background checks, prohibiting immigration status requirements, protecting tenants from capricious evictions (thus increasing the population experiencing homelessness), increasing the minimum wage, requiring employers to provide paid sick leave, and establishing seamless voter registration (one of Gov. Brown’s signature accomplishments, by the way). He has a 0% rating from the SEIU and a 93% rating from the NRA. The ACLU gives him a 33% and the Oregon Education Association a dismal 31%. Business and corporate groups consistently rate him in the 90s while environmental groups all rate him 40% or lower.

Knute Buehler is really good at finding marginalized and targeted people who are legitimately frustrated and spinning their stories into his web of lies. What he isn’t good at is actually identifying solutions to Oregon’s problems. He attacks PERS because it’s convenient, ignoring the fact that PERS security and education funding would both be solved by fixing our state’s ridiculous tax laws.

Gov. Brown is a dedicated, creative, passionate public servant. She’s actually interested in putting in the work to solve Oregon’s problems. Rep. Buehler is a self-serving, self-identified “moderate” who cares more about being Governor than being honest. His legislative record shows a callow conservative who votes against women, immigrants, victims of violence, the poor, and the disenfranchised. For all his talk about “fixing education”, he votes against schools.

Don’t be fooled. Knute Buehler may not be a raving lunatic like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R – SC, aka Gollum serving his dark lord 45), but his calm demeanor hides a corporate agenda that will do nothing to make Oregon better.

I also want to give a shout out to the brilliant Stacey Abrams, who is running for Governor of Georgia. Like Brown, she is enduring false attacks from the very racist, homophobic, misogynist, Brian Kemp. Again, we see a woman, and a woman of color who is being attacked for being smart, a woman, and being black–definitely a common theme in the United States.

Call to action: VOTE! Call your senators. Campaign for candidates that support all people, not just white, heterosexual, cis, able bodied men.

In an attempt to be fair to Knute Buehler, I tried repeatedly to call his office and his campaign staff, only to get a voice recording. I left messages, but Mr. Buehler, nor anyone from his campaign got back to me.

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Labor Day 2015: Much Despised by the GOP

7 Sep

Labor Day 2015Labor Day was started in 1882 by labor unions, but it would be many more years before it would be recognized as a Federal Holiday. Oregon was the first state to recognize and honor Labor Day in 1887.  Finally in 1894, it became a national holiday on the first Monday in September under the Cleveland Administration.  Congress passed it unanimously, a very rare event indeed. Today we have an opportunity to reflect on why we need to celebrate the laborer and to look at the maldistribution of wealth in the United States. It’s particularly important to note how all of the GOP presidential candidates show nothing but contempt, disdain, and even disgust for the laborer.

Reflecting back, the United States can proudly celebrate the influence of its labor unions and how they have helped to protect the too often marginalized and voiceless.  The Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire proved there was still a great deal of work to be accomplished by the labor movement.  Labor Unions also worked to protect children and helped to establish an eight hour work day, fair wage laws, and breaks for safety and meals — that whole notion of having a weekend.

Sadly, America seems to be losing its appreciation of Labor Unions while privileging profit over people.  President Clinton left a nasty legacy called NAFTA and perpetuated a culture of vilifying those in poverty.

Many of us have been working in movements to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 an hour. This would be just a very small movement forward and still does not address a living wage. Sadly, the common theme from all of the GOP candidates has been nothing less than hostile, as they all seem to subscribe to the false notion of a meritocracy.

We hear Republicans bleat about jobs and the economy but do nothing, while at the state level we see a nefarious and dangerous Scott Walker are dismantling unions and isolating workers from the political process.  We have seen Walker, Christie, Kasich, and Jindal bash and target teachers and unions, rather than looking at how do we redistribute wealth in an equitable way that helps to lift people out of poverty. Please take a look at this short video on the distribution of wealth; this is what we should desperately focus on and how every GOP candidate is on the wrong side of history here.

Labor Day isn’t just an excuse for a long weekend or a chance to grill an extra hot dog before autumn sets in. It’s a chance to reflect on the work that is done at all levels of our society and the value of all that labor. It’s a chance to celebrate the collaboration that makes work better and working conditions safer. In the words of the great Joe Hill (as sung by Billy Bragg, thanks to my husband for the choice of Bragg):

Now I long for the morning that they realise
Brutality and unjust laws can not defeat us
But who’ll defend the workers who cannot organise
When the bosses send their lackeys out to cheat us?

Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone
What a comfort to the widow, a light to the child

There is power in a Union.

Happy Labor Day to all of our brothers and sisters that have to work today and that have no pension, no health benefits, and are at the poverty line.

Those Lazy Teachers in Chicago…

11 Sep

Thank goodness I have seen bits of the media coverage of the teacher’s strike in Chicago.  The media (shows like The Today Show, or what I call Fox News Lite) have taught me why it is important to vilify these glorified babysitters and why we should take the Paul Ryan and  Scott Walker approach to labor.

Let’s be honest, these teachers only work 10 months out of the year.  So what if they have to teach in over enrolled classes.  So what if they only earn on average 1/7th of the salary of the administrators.  So what if they have no school supplies and often pay for them out of their own pockets.  So what if they have to take on additional duties, thus working far more than 8 hours a day. So what if during their “time off” in the summer they have to take classes to keep their credentials.  So what if they are suddenly required to teach to tests that have no bearing on their teaching skills but are promoted and retained based on those tests. So what if they pay more in taxes than the 5% of the wealthiest of Americans. So what if they now have to parent as well as teach and then are criticized for not doing enough.

They are just labor.  What happened to the good old days when schools and companies ran easily and cheaply?  What happened to the days when we could just send children into factories and coal mines, or send immigrant women into hostile working conditions and they died in a fire? Those there the good old days. Good for Mayor Rahm Emanuel for taking us backwards in time and bullying these teachers into submission (You know, I loved him when he played Uncle Joe Stalin — he was very convincing).

Really? Really? What happened to our country? When did this dramatic shift occur that we no longer value labor? When did we start to vilify people who make little money? When will this perspective shift again, for these people like Rahm Emanuel and Scott Walker are on the wrong side of history.

I stand with the Teachers in Chicago! Ask me why if you want a lesson in history, economics, and social justice.

Closing Black History Month for 2012

29 Feb

My hope this year is that I have sufficiently proven how we still need to celebrate Black History Month in the United States; that racism is sadly alive and well and living in every state. Hopefully, TSM has celebrated many folks who have been relegated to corners of history and are rarely celebrated.  I have to confess what a pleasure it was to celebrate amazing black folk who dedicated their lives and continue to dedicate their lives to civil rights and social justice.

Some of my favorites this month (none will surprise the TSM audience) were: Nichelle Nichols — okay how cool is it that Dr. King told her to stay on Star Trek?  Ralph Bunche was another great article — a Nobel Peace Price winner and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt who worked tirelessly for civil rights.  I would like to see John Lewis of Georgia finally receive the Nobel Peace Prize for all of his work for civil rights!  Jacqueline Woodson, an out black lesbian writing books to make the world safer for all youth. I have to say I also fell in love with Alice Dunbar Nelson.  Honestly, I could go on and on here, for there are far too many black folk I want to see celebrated who are missing from American textbooks.

I hope you got the chance to learn about some new people and were able to rejoice in names you already recognized.  Chime in and let me know who were some of your favorites and tell me some people you would like me to add to the list.  I suppose one of the “take-aways” from this series is that until we see African-Americans being represented in all history books and American culture values Black History, we will continue to have the need for Black History Month.

Bigot of the Week Award: October 21, Viki Knox

21 Oct

Bigot of the Week

Thanks to my friend “Voice of the Trailer” for nominating this week’s BWA.  Viki Knox certainly earns the great dishonor with her homophobic comments on Facebook.  Knox, a public school teacher in New Jersey, demonstrated how LGBT youth are bullied by those in power–the teachers that are charged with educating and protecting.

Knox posted on her facebook page:

…that homosexuality was a “sin” that “breeds like cancer” and that marking LGBT History Month was like parading “unnatural, immoral behavior before the rest of us.”

Of course, Knox is pulling the “victim” card about freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  Sorry, Viki.  You don’t get to be both the persecutor and victim at the same time. If a comment by a teacher had been against blacks, Jews, Muslims, or any other oppressed and marginalized population, she would be fired.  Shame on you Viki for not seeing how your comments only help to support a white, male, heterosexual power structure.  Double shame because you are a teacher.  When did you chose to be heterosexual?

You Have to Love Matt Damon

2 Aug

Hero for Teachers

While I’m not  someone that is particularly connected to pop culture, or the world of celebrities, I do know who Matt Damon is. I have grown quite weary of the Scott Walker approach to dealing with teachers and unions and the workers of this country.  Matt Damon continues to use his celebrity as a voice for the people–the working class of America.

My friend, “The Voice of the Trailer” just shared this fantastic video that I felt compelled to share on TSM blog. Click here to see it. I love how he calls out these idiots for the fools they are.

Celebrating Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate

2 Apr

In recognition of National Poetry Month, The Solipsistic Me would like to honor and celebrate Paulann Petersen, Oregon’s sixth Poet Laureate.

Born in Portland in 1942, Petersen has lived in Oregon her entire life (other than her undergraduate years at Pomona College in Claremont, CA). Her poetry was originally inspired by the high plateaus around Klamath Falls, where she lived for years. Her first published poem appeared in the Sunday Oregonian in 1975. After years of teaching, she took on poetry full time. She now lives in southeast Portland.

Petersen’s poetry covers a wide range of subjects, often with a uniquely Oregon point of view. She frequently celebrates Oregon’s landscape, beauty, and structures. She has won numerous awards, including the Stewart Holbrook Award for Outstanding Contributions to Oregon’s Literary Life in 2006.

Paulann is also a wonderful, charming human being. Her background as a teacher and love of sharing poetry make her the perfect ambassador for Oregon poetry. As a member of the board of Friends of William Stafford, she also continues his tradition of using poetry for social action.  For more information, visit her website.

Most of Petersen’s works are available from libraries all over the country. They are also included in the Oregon Poetry Collection, a joint project of the Oregon Center for the Book and the Oregon State Poetry Association, at the Oregon State Library.

Paulann Petersen also does many public readings. She will be reading and speaking about poetry as part of the State Library’s spring lecture series on April 13.

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