Thursday, October 18, 2007

Report From the Line. Part 2

Today was much like yesterday in that there were periodic rain showers making everyone a bit uncomfortable at the picket sites. We had a visit from some "higher-ups" in the state union. They wanted to address a few of the issues we've been having with the media, specifically a certain local AM radio pundit that's full of shit. One would expect a certain level of misrepresentation from someone who has been clear in his animosity toward public education. He's a product of the private schools and (like many of them) would like to see all places of learning privatized. Of course he has seized every possible opportunity to rile up the community, while at the same time accusing the union of throwing fuel on the fire every time it takes a stand.

We have several coaches who have decided to cross the picket line. There are eight that want to continue to "serve the kids" by continuing games and practices during the strike. A few of them have even had the gall to show up on the lines and march with the rest of us. Naturally that has created a lot of animosity. By doing this they are playing both sides against the middle. They don't want to face alienation from the peers with whom they will eventually return to the classrooms. But at the same time they want to score points with the parents of the players and the team boosters. Their actions send a bad messages and undermine the union. For one thing it's a clear statement that they value athletics over education. In a district such as this, an inordinate amount of focus is already on sports. Many will accept the inconveniences of shifting the schedule to accommodate a strike, yet God help anyone that stands in the way of that red-blooded American past-time of football. Perhaps there would be more pressure on the board to get this thing settled if these double agents would just stay home and let the adults iron this out.

Why should student athletes be catered to anyway? Wouldn't the funds used for stadiums be better put to use by earmarking them for educational purposes? The aforementioned pundit (who I'll refer to here as MG) has made a hero out of the head coach of the gridiron. This Mr. B. has allowed himself to be exploited by the anti-union cause. As if this weren't enough insult, he is participating in the worst type of moral grandstanding in the public eye. He's had the nerve to imply that he cares more about the kids than the striking teachers do, and has stated that he would break into the school tomorrow to teach class if that were possible. Still he insists he is not trying to make an anti-union statement. Meanwhile he quietly collects his portion of the $8K the district shells out for his "leadership service". While he has refused to give a live interview on the radio, he evidently had no qualms about talking with MG for "about an hour or so". So now he's managed to transform his image from the guy who cares more about football to the poster child for the union-busters. In his own words, MG "loves the guy."

There will be ramifications for these individuals. Most likely there will be a few former fans that look cross-eyed at the new "big-man-on-campus". In the meantime the issue is getting heated on the lines. Now the coaches who haven't crossed the line want to be paid off. They believe that a portion of the union dues paid by all teachers should be used to compensate for the supplemental income they are losing during the strike. My opinion is that their requests expose them for what they are... self-serving prima donnas. Everyone on the line is making a sacrifice. The checks for their main source of income are going to be withheld. Everyone of us knew that this would be the case. They need to carry their own loads just like the rest of us. Should I demand funds to make up for whatever art I don't make or sell because I'm losing my vacation days? I don't think so. Cry me a river, tough guy.

Someone actually had the nerve to suggest we take up a collection for the "union-loyal" coaches. They might as well pass me right by, because they are getting no sympathy from me, let alone money. That cause simply serves as a source of distraction and dissension. In fact we spent a good twenty minutes talking about this non-issue with the union "bigwigs" who deigned to visit us out in the field. After promises that they would join us on our march (that of course never happened), they beat a hasty retreat. I wanted to ask them to elaborate on their new "media policy". Supposedly they are not dealing with the media anymore. From my observation they weren't doing anything useful before. We are clearly losing the P.R. battle, despite the fact that the majority honk and wave at us as they pass by the lines. They seem hapless, even on a superficial and personal level. Why would they send a fat guy in an ill-fitting suit to inspire confidence and give us a pep talk? I wonder when the last time he actually had to march was.

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