Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Commentary on the Leap Day Sick Out

Dear Readers-

As many of you have already heard, the district is reporting that the number of teachers calling in today is 13% below normal.  Am I surprised by this?  Absolutely not.  In fact, it would not surprise me if a number of people who came in today did so to avoid any form of retribution.  I have been addressing the issue of fear throughout this last week because I knew if anything could shut down this movement, it would be the fear.

In the end, the fear won.

The news media is already calling the Sick Out a failure, and based on numbers alone I would have to agree.  There is no denying that I had hoped for a greater participation, but before I raise the white flag, I would like to point to a few successes:

-For a few weeks, much attention has been paid to the working conditions within the Dallas Independent School District.  Teachers have had the opportunity to voice their concerns, express their dissatisfaction, and highlight the disrespect they have experienced at the hands of the board.

-The district, at least for a day, was shaking in their boots in a way that the union could never have achieved.  From their 11th hour plea to principals to develop some form of action plan for the Sick Out, it was apparent that a cage or two was rattled.

-Some of us found our voice.  Many people who have been on the sidelines and watched the union try their hand at "representing" us have continually found AFT/Alliance's inability to produce results frustrating.  For once, they felt as if someone was trying to do something.

If the district's self-reported absence numbers are true, then it is safe to say that the Sick Out will produce no changes.  Of course, I was under no illusion that there would be some massive revolution in district policy as a result, but I refuse to remain silent any longer.

The results of today's sick out are disappointing, but I remind myself of what I always tell my students who get nervous or are reluctant to perform a task because, as they say, "It's too hard."

"If you don't try, I promise you, you will not succeed.  There is no shame in trying and failing, because at least you had the courage to try.  Give it a shot, try your best, and you may surprise yourself."

Those of us who are absent today have at least one card to hold in our pockets.  When the next change comes down, the next unfair policy is voted on behind closed doors, and our colleagues grumble and groan, we can pull out that card and hand it to them.  It would read:

"Quit complaining.  
I tried to do something.  
You shook in fear and did nothing.
Now take your medicine."  

-Mr. Jones

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quick response to the legal question

Regardless as to whether or not you agree with my interpretation of the law, our legal system is founded on the principle of "innocent until proven guilty." The burden of proof lies in the accuser. If someone claims that you are participating in an "illegal work stoppage" they must prove their claim. You do not have to prove that you were not breaking the law, they must prove you were. How will they prove you were not sick?

Do not give in to the fear mongering. District policy does not require a doctor's note if you are absent for one day. If asked, you were sick. End of story.

I will post again tonight.

Mr. Jones

Monday, February 27, 2012

Let's Talk Laws

Dear Readers-

I want to address a common concern/criticism that has arisen since the beginning of my blog.

Critics have suggested that my calls for action on the 29th violate the law and that all teachers who call in on Leap Day are participating in an illegal work stoppage.  We all know that Texas's labor laws are some of the most oppressive in the nation, but regardless, let us look at this criticism.

The law in question is Texas Government Code Sections 617.001 - 617.005.

617.001 - (a) Simply defines the term "labor organization" as it pertains to this section of the code.

617.002 - (a)This section states that public employees may not enter into collective bargaining agreements regarding wages, hours and conditions, and (b)any such contracts are void.  Interestingly enough, it also states that (c) a government official cannot recognize any organization as a bargaining agent for any employee group.  I wonder how the union interprets that one....

617.003 - This one is the one that really concerns us here, so I will provide this one in it's entirety before I break it down.

(a) Public employees may not strike or engage in an organized work stoppage against the state or a political subdivision of the state. (b) A public employee who violates Subsection (a) forfeits all civil 
service rights, reemployment rights, and any other rights, benefits, and privileges the employee enjoys as a result of public employment or former public employment. (c) The right of an individual to cease work may not be abridged if the individual is not acting in concert with others in an organized work stoppage.
Alright, let's go subsection by subsection.

(a) - The key in this one is the phrase "organized work stoppage."  So we can approach this from two different angles.

Pursuant to section 1 201 of the Uniform Probate Code, and organization is a group of people working together, working towards collective goals and controls its own performance.  Examples of organizations are corporations, business trusts, partnership, estate, trust, joint venture, association, or government.  Organizations can be legal or commercial identity.

"Teachers for Change" is the name of a blog, not an organization.  This is just me, and only me, fielding e-mails, posting to Facebook, doing interviews and posting on the blog.  There is no collective involvement.  So the term organization does not apply to what I am doing.

So is the sick-out organized?  What membership rosters do I have?  None.  When the media asks how many are participating, my answer is only speculation.  All I have done is share my opinions and ideas and hope others follow.

Let's look at "work stoppage."  A work stoppage is an organized cessation of work, as during a strike.  What I am proposing is a one day sick-out, not a strike.  The work of Dallas ISD will not cease, in fact, it will carry on without us present (though at an admittedly lower quality.)  In no way is the Leap Day Sick Out organized or a work stoppage.

Therefore (b) does not apply.

But if you doubt me, let's look at (c).  Concert means to arrange something by mutual arrangement or coordination.  What coordination has taken place?  Have you and I sat down and discussed plans?  Have you and I come to any personal or collective agreements?  Have any of you had any input into the posts I have put on this blog, or reviewed any of my statements? (Considering my failure to catch typos, perhaps I should have sought input...)  I have stated my peace, some of you have agreed or disagreed, but at no time have I ever used the blog to create a collaborative effort.

We are not organized.  This is not a work stoppage.  And at no time have we been in concert with each other.  Whether or not you agree, the law is law, and neither I nor any other teacher who call in on Wednesday are breaking it.

I look forward to the comments that are sure to follow.  But please, people, try to avoid personal attacks and stick to the topic at hand.  Sometimes it has been very hard to follow my rule of not deleting comments. I love dialogue.  I cannot tolerate stupidity.

617.004 - This is the "right to work" portion of Texas law.  People cannot be denied employment because they do not belong to a labor organization.

617.005 - This section protects the rights of employees rights to present grievances about wages, conditions and hours (such as what I have been doing).

If you want to see the code in its entirety, click here.

Sorry for the long post, but one last note.  Thursday, March 1st is a National Day of Action for Education.  When you came back to work on Thursday, I would encourage you to come clad in black to demonstrate your support for those fighting to improve our nation's education system.

Thank you,

Mr. Jones.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Letter to the DISD Trustees

This is the e-mail I sent to the Board of Trustees.

To the esteemed members of the Board of Trustees for the Dallas Independent School District-

I am known as "Mr. Jones," and I am sure you are all aware of what I have asked my fellow teachers to do on February 29th.  I had hoped that by this point the board would have made some statement, whether via e-mail or in a public fashion, in regards to the disrespect that has been demonstrated towards the educators of DISD. However, you have yet to reach your hands out to us and begin a dialogue on how we repair our relationship and how we move forward.  

That is disappointing, but not unexpected.  After all, the actions of Mr. Flores and the remainder of the board have made it very clear to us that the opinions of the educators are not a welcome addition to any conversation.  It is a pity, considering we both share the same goal of providing a high-quality education to the students of our district.  

If you do not wish to ask the questions, then I will provide you answers to the questions you should have been asking us from the beginning.

Question:  "What have we done to upset you so?"

Answer:   Thank you for asking.  Let me start by reminding you that we educators understand that the district is in dire financial straits.  In fact, it appears as if every school year finds us in a predicament involving our finances.  Seeing as how we know that the district must make some cuts in order to repair its damaged budget, we have watched our colleagues walk away from the profession (or be escorted out by security with their dignity in shambles.)  We have all grit our teeth and watched our insurance premiums rise in concurrence with a pay freeze.  We have sacrificed two of our paid personal days and come to work when ill.  We have paid for more supplies out of our own pockets and said farewell to stipends and duty pay.  This we have all done and, with the exception of some teacher lounge grumbling, remained silent.  However, we feel insulted by the district's recent decision of extend the working day by an additional forty-five minutes.

Question:  "But we do not understand.  Why has the forty-five minutes upset you?"

It is simple.  Recognition.

Teachers get very few, if any, rewards for what we do.  Our pay is less than spectacular, we do not feel valued by the general public, and sometimes we fell like the punch-line to a bad joke.  We do not ask for much because we love what we do, and we find our own rewards in the every-day miracles that can occur in a classroom.  We do not expect the public at large to understand us.  

However, we expect more from you.  We expect you to thank us for the sacrifices we have made to help you solve your various budget crises.  Whether it was a cut in state funding or the simple mismanagement of $80 million plus, we have laid parts of our livelihoods down upon the chopping block.  Is a thank you too much to ask?

I stead of "thank you," we received a "Screw you!  You are not doing enough!  You must do more!  Henceforth you shall spend more time upon campus!"

Question:  "But why call on a sick-out?  Why not just tell us?"

Answer:  One guy did, remember?  Poor guy spent almost a week wondering if he was going to have a job when he woke up.  No thanks.

Question:  "But we need teachers to do more, and the forty-five minutes will be used..."

Answer:  Let me stop you right there.  First of all, you had no clue what the forty-five minutes was going to be used for.  You voted on it without any clear plans as to how it would be utilized.

No let's back up for a minute and logically think about this.  You have a large number of teachers who spend an hour, or more, beyond their contract time doing school related functions every day.  Whether it is taking papers home to grade, sponsoring clubs (which provide no stipends, remember?), preparing lessons, producing materials, holding parent conferences, tutoring outside school hours or during lunches, etc.  Now you mandate that said teacher must stay at work for an additional forty-five minutes.  Insulted by the insinuation that he/she does not do enough for the students, he/she decides to limit their work to keep within the new "mandated time."  Therefore you have now actually lost fifteen minutes of productivity from this individual, even more if they decide never to tutor during lunch.  That is only if a teacher works just one hour over the current time, but many work more than that.  You get the idea.

In many ways, you stand much more to lose from mandating the forty-five minutes than from the current hours you have in place.

Question:  "Is that really all you are upset about?"

Answer:  No, but it is the only thing that you can easily rectify right now.  The others are far more complicated.  I know we could find the money to give teachers their increases this year if the board was willing to look for it, but you could at least set the relationship between educators and trustees back on track with a simple reversal on this one policy.

Question:  "Where do we go from here."

Answer:  Where ever you want us to go.  We can start going about things the right way; working on solutions to our districts problems collectively rather than looking to scapegoat one another, or we can continue down our destructive path.  It think we both owe it to the students of DISD to put our broken district back together.

I beg all of you to please extend this single olive branch to your teachers.  Reverse the forty-five minute extended day and recognize us as the key component in the success of our kids.  Let's finally begin moving in the proper direction:  forward!

Thank you for your time,

-"Mr. Jones" 

Last call...

Dear Readers-

The time is upon us.  For many of you, this is your moment to decide if you take a stand, or if you let this moment pass.

I have asked teachers to call-in on Wednesday, February 29th to protest our districts continuous downward spiral, and while I have had quite a number of you express your support, I have had fewer who would state that they too will miss the suggested date.  While I am glad to see many of you are considering taking a stand, I have to say that I am disappointed in how many of you are giving in to the fear.

I doubt there is little I can say or do at this point that would change very many minds.  Some of you say you will call in on different days in a "staggered" sick-out.  Others have chose their own personal dates to be out, while a former teacher calling him/herself "The Watchful Eye" has suggested we call-in on STAAR testing days (although I see the point behind this last suggestion, I do not agree as I can foresee the problems our kids will face with testing irregularities.)  In many ways I applaud the fact that many of you are willing to do something.  However, our strength will only come if we speak in one loud voice, instead of many small ones.  I believe if we do not come together as one, we will be much easier to ignore.

It is unfortunate that we have to do this on our own, considering the number of us that shell out some of our hard-earned money to Alliance/AFT.  However, Alliance has proven themselves to be ineffective in our recent struggles. Let us look at the effectiveness of our beloved union.

*On the date I came forward to suggest a sick-out, Alliance/AFT had the courage to step forward and "neither condone nor condemn" my actions.  Although they sent me a nice e-mail saying they wish me well, they have helped the district stoke fear in their members by reminding members that "we don't know what the district will do to you if you participate."  Wow- a union helping the district sow disunity.  Thank you, Alliance!

*Alliance has been happy to claim credit for getting Mr. Drake reinstated, although his decision to come forward and share his story with the media play a substantial role in his victory over the bullying tactics of Edwin Flores.  I am sure if a sick-out produces change, they will be quick to claim some credit as well.

*While Alliance has been "representing" us, we have had our days reduced from ten to eight, our wages frozen, our benefits reduced and our contribution to insurance increased.  The board has extended our work day and bullied teachers.

*Alliance claims to be the voice of the teachers of DISD and, according to their webiste, "Your Official Voice for Change."  Given all they have "accomplished" over the last three years I must ask, "Who's changes?"

Tonight I will send an e-mail to the members of the board, and I will produce its contents on this blog.  If our "official voice of change" cannot produce results, perhaps an unofficial one can.

-Mr. Jones

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dear Teachers...

Greetings to all,

Throughout this week I have had a number of conversations with various teachers in response to my previous post.  All of them told me that they were one of the Motivated; those who want to do something but have their reservations.  The conversation typically begins as follows-

"I really want to do something.  I am tired of being treated this way, but I'm afraid.  I'm afraid that the district is planning some kind of punishment for calling in, and I don't want to put myself in that position."

Here is my answer to all of you who are afraid:

"Good.  You should be afraid.  After all, the Dallas Independent School District has a pretty distinct history of bullying DISD employees for all sorts of reasons, real or imaginary.  The fact that you are afraid tells me that you recognize this fact and are not oblivious to what is happening to our district.

Of course you should be afraid.  Don't you think I am afraid?  I wish you could have spent ten minutes in my shoes that day I came to work after my blog hit the news.  I spent the entire day waiting for someone to walk into my room and relieve me, with a note in their hand summoning me to the office.  I couldn't eat my lunch, I fought to keep the shaking from my hands creep into my voice, and no amount of anti-perspirant could keep my underarms dry.  I was a wreck, but I survived.

Calling in on February 29th will take some courage, but no more than the courage that I have already demonstrated.  I have done what few others could gather the courage to do, and that is start the conversation.  I am not asking any one person to do more than I have already done myself.  No one can honestly say that they are in more danger of repercussions than I am.  After all, I started this mess.

If you are too afraid, I understand.  Go to work on the 29th and let others stand their ground.  But keep this in mind when you clock-in that day-  the next time the district takes away one of your days off, or extends your contract hours, or freezes your pay and couples it with a hike in your medical care costs you have no one to blame but yourself.  The time to stand up is NOW, and if you refuse to add your voice to that of your colleagues, or if you are simply too afraid to stand up for yourself, then you deserve everything that happens from here on out.

I am not asking you to quit your job.  I am only asking that for one day you stand up for yourself and for the future of our district.  If that is asking too much, than perhaps I have more faith in you than I should."

On another note - there is an on-line petition asking the district to reverse the 45 minute extension.  I encourage all of you to follow the link below and add your signature.  The more of us that sign, the greater our chances of being heard.

In these last few days before the sick-out, expect to hear from me more frequently.

-Mr. Jones

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Updates and Analysis

Dear Readers

Last time I took time in between posts, I apologized.  This time I took time off to sit back and ask myself a number of questions about the proposed sick out, the state of Dallas ISD, and a look at myself.  Here is what a week of reflection has shown me.

The Sick Out

Efforts like this have fizzled out in the past, and perhaps this is heading down the same path.  There are really four different ways Dallas teachers are approaching the idea of calling in on February 29th:

1.  The Hardliner

The Hardliner is the teacher that supports the idea with all their heart and soul.  They are the convinced and these teachers will definitely be absent on the 29th, regardless of whether or not I post again.  I am not certain as to the number of these teachers (as I keep no logs or records of supporters) yet from e-mails and Facebook posts I can tell that there is a good number of them out there.

2.  The Motivated 

The Motivated is the teacher who is also tired of the mistreatment and disrespect of the board, yet is not quite certain that they will participate.  Many of the Motivated want to do something about our situation, but are unsure that a sick out is the right move.  They may feel that there will be possible repercussions to missing school on Leap Day, whether on their individual campus or from the board itself.  They need their job, and want to keep it, and are willing to support a movement for change but are nervous of putting their employment at risk.  These may also include people who do not have enough days remaining to miss school on the 29th.

I respect your reservations and completely understand them.  Just like you, I do not want to be "punished" for missing school on Leap Day.

If the description of "The Motivated" describes you, then I urge you to ask yourself a few more questions....

If you do not stand for change now, then when will you?  Next year?  At some point you simply have to draw a line in the sand and announce that you will take no more.  Personally, I feel that such a time is now.  Next year will be too late.  If you allow the board to continue down this path, there will come a point where standing up is pointless.  Perhaps that time has already come and my ideas are already too late, but we cannot go backwards and undo the past, nor can we allow the district to move forward in this direction.

Fear is a powerful force.  Historically, fear has been used to maintain control in situations where those in power know they cannot get popular support.  Fear can go a long way, but once the people stand up against the powerful and declare that fear will no longer maintain control, the people become the powerful.  The longer the people choose to wait, the more challenging this transfer of power becomes.  My question to the Motivated is:  If it will only get more difficult to stand up in the future, than what are you waiting for?

3.  The Unsure

The Unsure either remain uninformed by the changes being made, or are frankly uninterested in what is happening.  I cannot believe that the number of these teachers is that large, but again I have no data to back up any of this.  These teachers may also not be aware of this blog, or a suggested sick out, or of the impact the recent board decisions have made upon Dallas ISD.

If you know of the Unsure, by all means find and educate them.  Do not let people ask you "what happened?" on March 1st.  Give them the address to this blog and let them decide.

4.  The Detractors

The Detractors are two-fold.  They are those who feel any form of protest is pointless and therefore a ridiculous suggestion, or they are those who feel that the school board has been fair in all their decisions to date.  I cannot really imagine anyone who falls in the latter category, but I will not claim that they do not exists simply because I have never met them.

Perhaps the sick out is a fruitless venture, and I highly encourage anyone with a better idea to start their own blog or send those ideas to me and I will happily champion their cause.

Our District... God Bless 'em

I have been sitting back this last week, shaking my head at the downward spiral our district has been in.  The possibility of losing $79 million in Title I funding due to misappropriation and failure to service students and the use of $57,000 in Title I funds to take our fifth grade boys to Red Tails has been all over the news.  Things just keep getting better and better....

Red Tails has received lukewarm reviews, at best, and is not the only option out there for a film about the Tuskegee Airmen.  If you already have determined that a PG-13 film is perfectly acceptable for 10 year old boys, then why not show The Tuskegee Airmen.  The film has the same rating, it covers the same topic, and has higher reviews than Red Tails (7.1 on IMDB compared to Red Tails' 5.9).  Oh yeah, The Tuskegee Airmen is also available on Amazon for six bucks a copy.

Also, by purchasing The Tuskegee Airmen on DVD, you could afford to show it to the girls as well, demonstrating that in Dallas ISD we believe girls may also benefit from learning about the contribution of African-American fighter pilots in World War II.  I could rant and rave about the decision to take only boys to see the film, but I am trying to keep this post of a reasonable length and free from profanity.

Summary:  Purchasing the DVDs of The Tuskegee Airmen instead of the "Red Tails field trip" has resulted in one less teacher working in Dallas ISD.  If you were riffed last year, at least you know that your job was cut so our kids to go to the movies and watch a film this is not the most historically accurate account of the events depicted, nor age appropriate. 

Finally, I would like to assign a little homework for my friends.  Check out Uplift and the plans to use DISD bond money to build a charter school in Deep Ellum....

Until next time,

-Mr. Jones


Monday, February 6, 2012

Teachers and Teaching

Hello again-

Sorry it took so long for another post.  This last week has been especially tiring on my end.  I'm used to having a relatively mellow existence outside of school but the last week has been anything but relaxing.

There have been some rumors floating around regarding the sick-out.  I have heard plans of district retribution, of "black-listing," and other horror stories of the potential downfall we all face if we use a day on the 29th.  I have seen no documentation, whether hard copy or e-mail, that would confirm any of these stories.  So as of right now, I regard them as rumors only.  Whether generated by a paranoid teacher or an administrator who is sweating the prospect of empty classrooms, I cannot say.

I have received some information about campus administrators who have been distributing a "letter of intent" to their staff, requiring them to sign a document declaring their intent to remain on campus and to abide by the extended schedule.  If you have been handed a similar letter, please let me know.

What amazes me is the haphazard implementation of the new work schedule.  The board approved the new schedule yet left the principals sole discretion as to how the new time was utilized. Principals were given approximately three days to develop a comprehensive plan on how the new time would be spent on their campuses.  Three days?  Is this truly enough time to formulate any plan, much less a comprehensive one?  Is this enough time to gather feedback from faculty or sit down with instructional leadership and honestly discuss how this time can be used effectively?

Once again, DISD does something last minute and with little thought invested.

In other news, neither the board nor the interim superintendent have mentioned the proposed sick-out, whether in writing or in the media.  I expected as much.  As I mentioned before, I believe their strategy is to simply wait us out and hope it all goes away.  If the board has not addressed us, then perhaps I will need to address the board.  More on that soon.

Some have asked me if I think this sick-out idea is really going to work or if I believe the board will reverse its decision.  I am hesitant to provide an honest answer here, for honesty in this light will probably seem detrimental to my cause.  However, I do not believe that the added time is going away.  Whether 33% or even 100% of us call in sick on February 29th, we will return on March 1st, and the board will have weathered this storm.  The history of labor relations in America shows that a single day action, like the one I am suggesting, is destined to fail.  The only proven method to force management to the negotiating table is a full strike.  The legality of a strike in Texas aside, no educator would even consider such a thing.  One day is one day, but the students in Dallas simply cannot afford for us to be gone for the time necessary to get our voices heard.  What I expect to happen is teachers will call in on Leap Day, the news will report it, and the public will  forget it sometime around the second of March.

Then, if I don't expect us to get what we want, then why do it at all?

The answer to this question is simple.  I love education.  I enjoy the art of teaching, the look on a kid's face when they finally understand what you have been teaching them all week, the satisfaction of knowing that I played a role in the development of a young person's life.  I cherish every laugh that I share with the students,  the joy we share in their successes and the opportunity to help them bounce back from defeats.  I especially like doing so in Dallas, a place where I feel as though I am needed, more so than in our surrounding communities.  I want to spend the rest of my life gathering year after year of memories.  I hope to meet some of these young people again when they become adults and have one of them, just one, thank me for my hard work.

I love teaching, but for the first time in my life I am becoming dissatisfied with being a teacher. 

And it isn't just me.  There are some younger people in my building who are incredibly talented; people who I know will soon develop into teachers that I could only dream of being.  I envy their talent, and I know how desperately they are needed in education. Yet they will eventually leave.  Their exit will not be a case of "normal attrition," rather it will be a direct result of the policy decisions of district leadership.

We have given the district so much already and we will never get any of it back.  We cannot continue to give more concessions to the board, for if we do, we will never be able to recruit the next generation of talented educators.

So no, I do not expect the board to reverse its decision.  I do not believe I ever truly did.  All I expect is for our board to stop for a minute, just one minute, and ask themselves if their next policy change is going to make Dallas attract talent or repel it.

Keep on teaching, and try to forget how hard it is becoming to be a teacher.

-Mr. Jones

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Call to Arms! Report the Waste!

Hello all,

I think it's time to turn up the heat a little, but I need your help.  This is a big project, so like we tell the kids, "put your thinking cap on and bring your A-game."

I am trying to compile a collection of examples of Dallas ISD wasteful practices.  Any stories you have can be helpful, but what is even better is memos, e-mails, or other official statements you have that clearly demonstrate the waste of taxpayer dollars.  Any information you have is good information, even if you think it is nothing.  You might be surprised how a couple of hundreds of dollars of waste on your campus could be part of a larger pattern of mismanagement of funds.

I know we have all seen things that make us shake our head and grumble, "those idiots."  Now it is time to bring it to the light.  Think of the many times you have seen something ridiculous and said, "For the cost of those we could have saved someone's job."

NOTE:  I hate to go into an all caps rage here, but DO NOT E-MAIL ME FROM YOUR DALLASISD.ORG ACCOUNT!  If you have emails or attachments to send, cut and paste the text into a word document and send it using your personal e-mail account, or set up a dummy e-mail if you want to remain anonymous.  I will work to compile all the examples to show a complete picture of the waste that has cost us, the people, and our students so much!

And spread the word!  I know that, together, we can provide millions of dollars of examples of wasteful practices!


Thanks again!

-Mr. Jones

Sit down, shut up, and be happy!


If you read either the comments attached below my posts, or the comments attached to the news stories, you know there are people out there who believe we are simply a bunch of whiners and we need to remind ourselves that "at least we have a job."  This has become a phrase spoken with such frequency in America that we might as well make it our motto.  "At least You have a Job" might not sound quite as cool as "In God We Trust" or "E Pluribus Unum," yet it is definitely a more fitting tagline for modern America (especially the latter.)

When did we go through such a pathetic change?  This nation was created by a bunch of hell-raisers, people who would not tolerate being abused by the powerful.  I highly doubt you would have ever heard one of our Founding Fathers say, "At least I have a job."  Or let's even look at more modern hell-raisers.  Do you think our nation would be a better place if Martin Luther King Jr. said "Thank God you have a job!" instead of "I have a dream?"  Do you think immigrant farm workers would have it better off if Cesar Chavez just gave them a pat on the back and said, "Hey, it sucks, but its a job."

Now I am by no means trying to compare myself to these great individuals, but these are the people who inspire me.  They did not wait for the people to learn about their causes, they brought their causes to the people.  They did not wait for elected officials to recognize the error of their ways and fix things, they stood up and demanded change.  They aired their grievances (which today is defined as "whining"), marched in the streets, told their story to anyone who would listen until change was made.

Neither one said that they were happy to simply have a job.

When did we become a nation of spineless employees?  When did we actually begin to say things like "at least I have a job" whenever we found our pay cut, our benefits reduced, our hours increased; and actually find comfort in such a weak statement?

I am not talking about us teachers, but Americans as a whole.  Look at these poor folks at American Airlines, who have made concession after concession to AMR since the first airline collapse in 2001, and yet 13,000 of them are still being laid off.  Some of those people spent the last decade reminding themselves that they had a job when AMR took their pay and benefits away.  Now what do they have?

It is time the workers of this nation retake their dignity, and stop telling themselves that having a job is simply good enough.  

Thank you all for your continued support,

Mr. Jones