Saturday, March 31, 2018

Battleax and Blowhard

Many encounter these individuals and some may be in one's own family but in reality few spend solid time with these types of individuals as they are sure they are ill educated rubes that live in flyover country and are rural types that don't read, attend church and are gun toting maniacs.

Well as we have come to learn from a father in Parkland whose daughter was killed at Stoneman Douglas, they are just like you!  Only right wing and equally vocal about guns, as in having them. Andrew Pollack is angry grieving man who felt compelled to wear a pro Trump shirt while searching for his daughter, met with Trump privately prior to the infamous "I hear you" sessions  and has been one of the few who disagree with the students and thinks all schools should be like Airports with guards, metal detectors and the like.  I respectfully disagree and will be happy to never see his angry raging grieving face again on my TV.

Then we have the Laura Ingrahm's who feel compelled to mock a kid who is trying to reconcile his grief and channel it into positive action.  David Hogg is a kid, he is not perfect, he may have been rejected from colleges but who cares, they aren't going anywhere and he will go to the college of his choice, likely on a free ride thanks to his activism. This kid has a job and this bitch would have been the first to condemn him for that if not anything else as that is who she is.  Disagree yes, respectfully no is the mantra of the wingnut nation.

So those are examples of the Blowhard and Battleax that I see and hear everyday. And many of them are educated professionals and this from a State where only one-third of the population is educated.  And in a City where there are not one but five colleges and many hospital facilities and Government offices that one would think are full of educated individuals.  To that I go hhaaaaaaaaa...

If there is one thing I had to learn is how to extricate myself from conversations let alone even starting them.  Of course I still can hear them when I ride the bus, am at the store or the gym, watch the local news or read the local rag that considers itself a paper.

Now to be fair I find these people on the left equally dismissive, ignorant and strident they just have a better vocabulary in which to express their perspective.  Yes Hillary Clinton is an example and there are many others.

I appreciate Roxanne Gay's writing and have been mystified as to why one week she is the Review section with an amazing piece that was positive and uplifting which I framed and set above my desk and then this week The New York Times placed her promptly back on the op-ed page with a rant about the reboot of the Roseanne show.  She is not alone in her dislike of the show but this is not a piece for the op-ed page but in the Style section or Arts.

 So, yes,  I will watch Roseanne as there are many thriving talented people on that show that returned and they put aside I am sure their differences and returned most willingly.  These are the same people  who were there the first time when Ms. Barr melted down on more than one occasion and this time it appears no different and like the President she supports she tweets her instability.  Here is a plan don't read or follow them or watch her show and your reasons not to are really none of my business or my concern, nor more importantly news worthy.  

There are others who dominate the cycle of hysteria and usually they are relegated to Blogs (like this one)  or Fox News and that is where it should be.  But we have now transcended the obsession over #MeToo #Times Up to the point we will not be reading books, walking into buildings, listening to music or watching movies or TV because of either the politics or behavior of the individuals in which are associated with said medium.  Sorry but I can compartmentalize my personal issues with the overall compilation of work and in turn hope they are (if not dead) getting help and learning how to work with others in a healthy productive way and in turn continue to enjoy if not enlighten us to their awakening.   Here is a good example - Tiger Woods.  So we should never let him make a living, support his kids, have pleasure, live or be among the public.  I see so he should just what die?

This article on the cancellation of a children's book due to allegations toward the illustrator is absurd. Is a parent going to sit with a child over a well written and illustrated book and go: "Well Jimmy this book would have been so much better if the artist had not been a misguided dipshit and harassed women." And which Johnny responds, "Is the bad man in jail now?"  And mother goes, "Well no he was just accused and subsequently denied due process to validate said charges and face his accuser as the law demands, so no."  I can see that going well at story time. 

Of course exceptions always exist.  Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby are examples of such as they transcend predatory behavior that went on for decades and I am not comfortable watching any of their work as I will think about what they put the women through in the process. Can anyone watch Kill Bill and feel good about themselves?  And they are no different than the Doctor Nassar who was sentenced to prison for his sick and disturbing behavior.   He thrived in a culture that enabled, encouraged and participated in equal predatory behavior as we are coming to learn. But I did not work nor attend Michigan but it shows that like University of Pennsylvania when the term "rape culture" is used there is a fairly significant appropriate application.  Should you not go to those schools? No but you go in knowingly and that we are all better for it.

I have found many on the "left" equally unstable.  Dr. Cornel West during the Obama years was quite histrionic that it became overwhelming to listen to him.  At times I tune out Bill Maher as there is only so much rhetoric he can spout about religion to the point he is repetitive.  I too am guilty of that and we all are when we are impassioned about our beliefs.  And they are just that - ours.  We cannot expect everyone to accept, believe or even acknowledge your facts, your opinions or your truths. Guess what they have their own.

Living in Nashville has yes made me more isolated and in turn I find myself being as phony on most days to the point when  I hear my fake vocal tone emerge, the next thing I do is repress my self loathing so I don't go all righteous and slug someone.   "Don't go to jail doing the world a favor"  as my Mother would say and she is still dead but still right.

But ignorance is the reality in America and not just in the flyover states nor the South and that is fairly evident.  The years of decimating public education funding both for K-12 and our State Colleges and Universities are the reason our grad rates have been stagnant and our wage inequity is rampant.  But what has saved them is an educated and well to do populace that is not afraid to give and give again to support public education.   They do not do the same here.   Living here it I am amazed at how many "educated" folks fall into the Battleax or Blowhard that define the "White Trash" persona.  There is the dude I know from the Y, he  is a trial lawyer and the most idiotic individual I have met with multiple degrees.  The varying Teachers and Administrators here that define stupid in new ways despite having three letters after their name are others. 

This past week I met a Teacher who was perhaps the most ignorant credentialed woman I have met (of late).  She asked me repeatedly why I came here and when I shared that it was personal and not for public consumption but she simply rephrased the question and asked again. Then she inquired about salaries of Teaches in Washington, which I responded that it is a matter of public record but the State falls in the middle of the spectrum but are not as low as Tennessee; the reason being is that there is a strong union presence which is a common factor among states that pay Educators well.  She then felt the need to correct me inform me they have a Union (again their union does not collectively bargain so clearly we don't see nor define union in the same way).   I said that I was unaware that unions did negotiate wages and perhaps she should write the blogger of the Tennessee Education Report who writes on wages issues.  But that did not stop her from her pulpit. She then informed me that Tennessee and Davidson County is the highest paid in the nation and the State.   Again, (we seem to repeat ourselves another sign you are speaking to a battleax/blowhard) I did say I was unaware of that but whatever, but she wanted to let me know she is well paid.  I see, so this is about you.  And it went on before I could finally extricate myself from this boring battleax, as she informed me that Tennessee doesn't have a state income tax. I said I was aware and neither did Washington State.    And once again she informed me I was apparently wrong and she would look it up.  Gosh I hoped that worked out as we did not speak for the rest of the class. But later while helping kids match words with pictures was a project that seemed beyond her skill set.  A  Student came up with the worksheet and told me that she said this lesson was wrong. Okay then.   I promptly did the exercise and matched words that described the picture and handed it back to the Student.  There was some comment and then  she left the room.  I guess all her credentials and history of work enabled her to know more or care less. I always like to say, "I am White Trash, just with an education" when I meet these types.

She is a battleax and no different that the woman on the bus the other day who was regaling her bus mates about Donald Trump and how he was brought to them by God to save America. When she got off the bus the men were greatly impressed with her intelligence and politics.  I am sure she had no degrees but met the White Trash part without issue.  No wonder people are against transit, they are afraid they would encounter said trash. The class and elite here may be stupid but they are sure they are not that stupid.

Blowhards are a dime a dozen and I just laugh as here they are utterly fucking clueless.  It is surreal to the level of ignorance that I encounter. And nowhere is that more evident than there local paper, The Tennessean.  This is good for bird cages or cat litter, reading however.

And why people can't read - Blame Teachers!  DUH.  As Oklahoma is now facing the reality that their former Governor, Brownback, also brought by God, fairly destroyed public education to the point they have hairdressers teaching Science.  That is the same here, by the way.  It makes me ashamed to be a part of it and why I am getting out.  This is America - STUPID. Thank a Teacher or your Hairdresser as it may explain why. 

‘It just hurts my heart’: Low pay, big classes are the plight of Oklahoma teachers

By Moriah Balingit The Washington Post March 30 2018

TULSA — For the superintendent of this city’s public schools, the signs that her teachers are struggling can be found everywhere.

At a local restaurant, it was a teacher who served Deborah Gist recently. At the Reasor’s grocery, there’s sometimes a teacher behind the register. And then there was the Uber that the school district chief hailed to catch an early-morning flight — a teacher sat behind the wheel, trying to earn some money before heading to the classroom. There was a stack of student journals on the passenger seat.

“It’s just so wrong that it just hurts my heart,” said Gist, who has been superintendent since 2015.

Oklahoma’s teachers are among the nation’s lowest paid, and ­despite the governor and lawmakers approving a $6,100 raise this week, educators pledge to walk out Monday if their full demands — including reversal of budget cuts — are not met. For a decade, little has been done to address the plight of the state’s teachers. It is a situation that has forced many to take second jobs, rely on food pantries and donate their plasma to pay the bills.

The revolt in Oklahoma comes amid a wave of teacher protests that have no recent parallel in the United States. In West Virginia, educators stayed out for nine tense days before winning a pay raise. In Arizona, teachers are threatening to strike unless the state gives them a 20 percent salary increase. In Kentucky, educators shut down at least 20 school systems Friday as they converged on the state capitol to protest pension reforms. “Don’t make us go West Virginia on you,” one protester’s sign read.

Earlier this year, educators in Oklahoma turned heartbroken — and desperate — as the legislature failed to boost their salaries. Then, about 1,000 miles to the east, West Virginia’s teachers walked off the job and leveraged a 5 percent raise after shutting down schools. Suddenly, whispers about the possibility of a strike in Oklahoma grew to a full-throated roar, even as teachers agonized over whether they should leave their students behind.

“We had been talking about it forever,” said Randi Cowan, a third-grade teacher in Tulsa who earned $33,746 last year and lives in a home built by Habitat for Humanity. “But then somebody else did it and . . . it just ignited our fire.”

As in West Virginia, educators in Oklahoma have reached a breaking point, fed up with stagnant wages and cuts to education funding. The idea of a walkout began to gain traction in mid-February after a proposed salary increase failed to win enough support among lawmakers. A ­superintendent circulated a petition asking colleagues if they would support a teacher walkout.

Then a 25-year-old social studies teacher, inspired by what happened in West Virginia, began a Facebook group titled “Oklahoma Teacher Walkout — The Time is Now!” It has ballooned to 70,000 members, including educators from Oklahoma and West Virginia and supportive parents.

Educators — backed by the state’s teachers unions — demanded a $10,000 raise for themselves and a $5,000 raise for support personnel. They are also asking the state to restore budget cuts and boost spending on schools by $200 million over three years. If they do not get what they want by Monday, teachers in about 140 school districts — including some of the state’s largest — plan to walk off the job.

In 2016, Oklahoma ranked 49th in teacher pay — lower even than West Virginia, which was 48th. The average compensation package of an Oklahoma teacher was $45,276 a year, according to the National Education Association, a figure that includes a high-priced health plan and other benefits. That’s far less than educators in neighboring states, making it difficult — for many districts, impossible — to find and keep qualified teachers.

Oklahoma’s 2016 teacher of the year, Shawn Sheehan, decamped for Texas last year, joining many other teachers who sought higher-paying jobs.

Robert Bohn, an agriculture teacher in the small town of Cement, said he could make $20,000 more annually teaching in Texas. He pointed down the two-lane highway. “Texas is just an hour that way,” Bohn said.

The state’s funding crisis began at least a decade ago when the recession hit, leading lawmakers to take a cleaver to education spending. Even after the state’s economy recovered, long-standing tax cuts and plunging oil prices constrained state revenue and depleted education funding. In this deeply conservative state, lawmakers have resisted raising taxes — and doing so requires a three-quarters majority of the legislature.

Adjusted for inflation, the amount the state spends per student has fallen nearly 30 percent over the past decade, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The consequences are evident across the state.

Virginia Ayers, a sixth-grade teacher at a Tulsa elementary school with many students from low-income families, has 36 youngsters in her class. In rural Cement, school system leaders could no longer afford to keep the lights on five days a week, so they cut the academic week to four days. It’s not the only district: Last year, 96 had four-day school weeks.

In Bartlesville, Superintendent Chuck McCauley, desperate for a math teacher, hired a candidate with a physical education degree and no classroom experience. “We’re literally hiring people right now that we would not have even interviewed 10 years ago,” McCauley said.

[ With state budget in crisis, many Oklahoma schools hold classes four days a week]

Paltry pay has taken an obvious toll on the lives of teachers. Some live paycheck to paycheck and face eviction because they cannot keep up with the bills. Struggling for survival, many have put off saving for retirement and emergencies. One teacher, a single mother of two young children, lived with her mother and shared a bed with her youngsters because she could not afford rent. Her own children were enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage to families with modest incomes, and she made so little that she qualified for a Habitat for Humanity home.

Ayers took out a high-interest payday loan for a $1,300 car repair. But she could not afford loan payments and groceries, so to feed herself, she began lining up at a plasma center twice a week, earning $20 to $40 for each donation. It made her lethargic in the classroom.

“It left me tired most of the time,” said Ayers, who also developed shingles.

She once had to turn to a church — John 3:16 Mission — for help paying a utility bill. There, she caught a glimpse of some of her students in an after-school program.

“It made me ashamed because I’m trying to inspire children to go to college, to have a better life,” Ayers said. “Here I went to college for nine years, and I can’t even support myself. What kind of role model was that?”

Jennifer Thornton, a third-grade teacher at a high-poverty elementary school in Tulsa, said she supports herself and her teenage son on less than $2,000 a month. Two years ago, she had to have brain surgery, and after the medical bills mounted, she showed up at the John 3:16 Mission food pantry. She spotted some of her students on the church playground and prayed they had not recognized her.

“It was so embarrassing,” Thornton said, breaking down into tears. “They and their families are in the same situation . . . but it did not make it much easier.”

In her darkened cinder-block apartment, Thornton opened the cabinets to reveal about a dozen cans. In the refrigerator, there was little more than an empty egg carton and a smattering of condiments sitting forlornly. The cans, she said, came from an adoring student whose mother realized Thornton was struggling when she saw her collecting leftover food from a Valentine’s Day party. The boy brought her a bag of groceries — also culled from a food pantry.

“Teaching in the state breaks my heart every day,” Thornton said. “I don’t know how much longer I can do it at all without a pay raise.”

At Hale High in Tulsa, about a dozen students hunched over phones on a recent weekday, listening to music or chatting during what was supposed to be their biology class. There was little to distinguish the room as a biology classroom — just a poster of the periodic table and a pile of dusty textbooks. Two teachers had quit since the start of the school year. On this day, nearly three weeks after the last teacher left, a local hairdresser serving as a substitute teacher took attendance but had no work to give students.

“My grade is high, but still, I want to learn a lot because I do like science,” said Delvon McKinney, a 17-year-old 10th-grader who spends idle class time charging his phone. He also went several weeks without an art teacher last semester. The constant churn of teachers frustrates him. “You get comfortable, and they’re gone.”

Two and a half hours southwest of Oklahoma City, in Comanche County, Bohn oversees 40 acres of land, raising chickens, pigs and cattle. He rises about 5:30 a.m. and in the darkness feeds his cattle and horses. His small-scale farm — where he also grows and cans peaches — feeds his family, including his wife, a kindergarten teacher who was forced to retire because of a disability, and his 14-year-old daughter. He supports them on the $50,000 a year he earns through an extended contract and also makes money as a church pastor.

At Cement High, he teaches students to raise their own food so they, too, can supplement their families’ diets. He has two safes in his classroom, housing shotguns for the school’s champion shooting team.

Bohn is a registered Republican who voted for President Trump, and he is leery of unions. But the problems that he faces in the classroom — decrepit computers and old textbooks — transcend politics for him.

As the sun rose over the school, a pump jack extracted oil from the earth beneath the classrooms, a mechanical hum filling the air. It stood between the school building and the softball field that Bohn turned into an orchard.

The machine is an ever present reminder of the state’s most dominant, and powerful, industry. Bohn stood in its shadow as the mechanical head bobbed up and down and shared his belief that oil companies were not paying their fair share — until this week, when, along with the teacher pay increase, the legislature voted to hike taxes on oil production.

“There’s oil wells right on the school grounds,” he said, “and yet we don’t get much of anything from it.”


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