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The End Game: The 16 Dollar An Hour Teacher (it’s no joke)

August 21, 2011

I wonder how long a country that deifies its military and demonizes its educators can remain a viable democratic nation (and for you conservatives out there who say we are a “republic,”  we have democratic values and institutions- or at least we did.)  As I was driving up Foothill Blvd in the increasingly seedy area of McVine Ave  and continuing past  Mt. Gleason, I noticed large vertical banners like the one below hanging from light poles with the names of Sunland- Tujunga  military members,  their branch of the military, and rank.

Banners honoring veterans from three wars we cannot pay for are now displayed along a stretch of Foothill Blvd in Sunland - Tujunga as our infrastructure crumbles, crime increases and the homeless population explodes.

This superficial yet gaudy “honoring” of the military,  hides a new reality for the area: rapidly rising property crime, rising foreclosure rates and an exploding homeless population (many of them veterans), a rise of cash-only businesses and the last bastion of decent socioeconomically and racially diverse  LAUSD schools in the valley under assault.   These schools are generally located in areas where there is still a semblence of a middle class or working class homeowners- city workers, Cal -Trans employees, plumbers and teachers, with  skilled workers and executives for the nearby Burbank entertainment studios residing in the hills of Tujunga at the base of the Verdugos.  

I wonder about this single-minded focusing about “honoring our veterans,” while we studiously ignore the stresses of those seeking to educate children to continue our democratic tradition as the LA Times Op-Ed, The Myth of the Extraordinary Teacher poignantly addresses.  Certainly the military can’t be the only way to safeguard our democracy.  What other countries have relied solely on military might to maintain their status and image?   The Soviet Union, East Germany and North Korea. Two of the three are defunct, the last is a nightmare of bare subsistence for its citizens.    Two other essential ingredients  that are markers of  any country’s stability are its economic health and moral/ ethical base.  How are we doing  in these last two areas?  As American’s wages seem permanently stagnated, job opportunities disappear and wealth in the form of home ownership vanishes while our jobs are outsourced,  Republicans repeat the mantra of  a “business friendly environment” solving our economic woes.   We actually have a business -friendly environment for big banks that paid no taxes last year like Bank of America and they responded by announcing the layoffs of at least 5,000 workers.  Meanwhile a study just showed- as if we needed it, we can feel it- that the wealth gap is the greatest in history- even more so than during the time preceding the Great Depression.   The study attempts to spin it as a “racial wealth gap” with Hispanics losing the most wealth, but the problem is that becaause of  the high number of rich white people, the study inaccurately inflates the average white person’s wealth.    The wealth of whites is skewed toward the top few, with the wealth of other whites dramatically declining.  The fact is, its not a racial issue- its a socio-economic one. Just ask the residents of Flint, MI. 

As for our ethical/moral base, this seems to be collapsing.  Often schools as well as churches provided this, but with constant upheavel in LAUSD schools we can barely get to know our students, much less provide them with those words of wisdom I used to hear from my teachers.  I see more and more disaffected people roaming the streets of my community, carrying knapsacks and wearing camaflouge, some followed by dogs, some pushing carts filled with recyclables.  These young men and women used to be our blue collar workers. In a bygone era, they would have been our middle class, but “market forces” took care of that.

  Then yesterday,  I read this teacher job posting on Ed-Join that terrified me to the core. The end game has arrived:

Part -Time High School Social Science Teacher

Category: Teacher – Middle/High


Flex Public Schools

Date Posted: 8/19/2011
    Application Deadline: Continuous
Work Year: 9/1/2011 – 5/31/2012 Contact: Tony Lewis
Employment Type: Part Time Number Openings:
(At time of posting)



approximately 30 hours per week 

Employer: Flex Public Schools Date Posted: 8/19/2011
    Application Deadline: Continuous
Work Year: 9/1/2011 – 5/31/2012 Contact: Tony Lewis


Job Description / Essential Elements:  

Sixteen bucks an hour? They are calling themselves a “public school” which means they would need credentialed teachers, right?  What credentialed teacher could afford to work for that?  And notice the words part time, read “no benefits.”  Would this be a Teach for America gig? Who would be desperate enough to take that job?  Hmm, RIF’d teachers are getting unemployment which pays about the same or more than this job- only RIF’d teachers whose unemployment has run out might do this, or perhaps an out of work sub with a credential.

I had a few questions for this “school” and so sent them an email asking pesky questions about ADA  and per pupil funding and the paying of teachers. I haven’t heard back but hey, its the weekend.  Edjoin should be ashamed to post a shady ad such as that. By the way, has anyone ever heard of “Flex Public Schools?”

The bottom line is as a former colonizer, the U. S has now become the colonized, both for home-grown and foreign companies.  Fresh and Easy, a United Kingdom grocery chain which is spreading like the plague in the  San Fernando valley and will soon open a location in Tujunga, is unionized in the UK, but not here.  They are famous for machine checkouts with no checker and a skeleton work force. While they  provide medical benefits to all  of their employees, the pay is a far cry from what unionized workers enjoy.  I have no plans to shop there.

As  I was driving back from a hike on the Emanuel Street loop in the Verdugos, three tired but happy dogs crowded in the back seat,  radio hosts Mike Papantonio and Sam Seder were railing against our “dual economy” -one subprime and one not.  They claimed our society would collapse because eventually, the rich would do themselves in with their own greed and the subprime economy would bring them down.  But I realized that’s not true. Our society may collapse, that’s for sure, but what these highly intelligent hosts failed to understand is that the rich won’t suffer because the  globablizing economy doesn’t need the United States anymore.  They can open a plant or sell products in developing countries now.  They can offer “virtual high schools,”  raking in public money while paying a pittance to teachers.  The rich will be fine. It’s the 16 dollar an hour teachers who will have to worry.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2011 7:35 am

    That’s a scary ad. It is also yet another piece of evidence that charters are not public, that workers’ rights are being attacked–and that everyone is either fine with it or too worried about their own skins to say anything.

  2. FremontWatch permalink
    August 21, 2011 7:55 am

    I’d say too worried about their own skins as opportunity is something now primarily for the rich. A college education is becoming a privilege. I used to joke to my students about immigrating to another country, Now I do an entire lesson on skills transferable to good paying jobs overseas. In fact, two neighbors I know both got their teaching credentials and immediately headed overseas for lucrative teaching positions. Maybe I’ll put that in the post. It’s gotten that scary.

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