The Teacher Quit When The Maggot Hit her Head

Ed Raymond

   Her family had been teachers for four generations before her, but when a maggot chewing on a dead rat in the ceiling of her North Carolina classroom fell on her head, she reluctantly called it quits. She started teaching in Florida, but when the district couldn’t afford to buy soap for the bathrooms, when her classroom had a corner filled with black mold, when her young students opened their textbooks and termites flew out, when cockroaches marched across the floors to the sounds of music, she decided to bail out to a North Carolina school. That’s when the maggot fell on her head. She finally said goodbye to dirty classrooms, dirty bathrooms, exhausted colleagues, and her teaching career.

   Why have teachers been striking in waves across the country? Because they are not going to take this crap anymore. Teaching conditions across this huge country are much the same. California, the home of Silicon Valley,  at one time led the nation with the finest school systems and the highest student expenditures. It now ranks as low as 49th  in studies. Only Mississippi is worse.

   Los Angeles public school teachers recently struck to improve equipment, education materials, facilities, salaries, and benefits. With a population of four million, Los Angeles is considered “the homeless capital of America” with over 53,000 homeless, many thousands of them children attending public schools. In Orange County, rundown motels are filled with Disney Land full-time workers who cannot afford rental housing. Over two-thirds of the 30,000 workers at Disney are considered food insecure and receive food stamps, 56% are afraid of being evicted from their homes and apartments, and 11% have said they have been homeless in the last two years, living in cars, garages, old RVs, and under bridges and freeway exits. At the University of California branch in Orange County over 10% of the students sleep in their cars. Welcome to the economy dominated by the One Percent in the so-called richest country in the world.

Let’s Look At The Top 20% For A Minute

   It’s getting so only the families of the Top 20% can afford to go to NBA, NFL, and MLB games. In a recent column Cal Thomas, a  “Christian” Trump supporter, complained about the salaries of professional athletes and named the $330 million 13-year contract Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals signed to go to the Philadelphia Phillies. If he goes to the plate 600 times to bat he will “earn” $25,333 each time. Josh Donaldson is getting a $23 million a year contract to play baseball. If he goes to the plate 600 times he will “earn” $38,333 per bat. (A nursing home caretaker would have to work two years to make that total.) Remember when Babe Ruth signed a $100,000 annual contract from the New York Yankees? The old days are long gone.

    The number of billionaires dramatically increased during the last three decades. Those with more money than sense went on an ego trip and invested in pro basketball, baseball, and football teams and started to pay athletes astronomical millions to play for their teams. Now we have $30 million quarterbacks, right fielders, and centers on the fields or courts. Billionaires are bidding millions for players because of their personal egos, not the skills of players. Kirk Cousins of the Vikings, the $84 million quarterback dud, is the latest splendid example of owners gone wild.  Thomas wrote the last time he attended a Nationals baseball game he noticed a roast beef sandwich was $12, a beer $9, a hotdog $10, parking $50, and a Harper jersey $225. Welcome to the big leagues, Cal.

  There is only one major league baseball team that is worth less than $1 billion (Tampa Bay at $900 million). The Yankees are valued at $4 billion and top the baseball market. The average NFL team is worth $2.57 billion with the Dallas Cowboys leading the pack at $5 billion. The average NBA team is worth $1.9 billion with the New York Knicks leading at $4 billion. 

   Dan Snyder, billionaire owner of the Washington Redskins of the NFL, just bought a new 305 ft. super-yacht to sit next to his old 162 ft. yacht. He insisted on having an Imax movie theater installed in his new one for a paltry $3 million. 

Let’s Look At What Has Happened To The Net Worth Of Americans

   I just listened to a Fox News propagandist talk about Trump’s “blockbuster” economy. Here are a few facts: by 2016 the top One Percent owned 40% of U.S. wealth while the top Twenty Percent controlled 90% of U.S. wealth. It has only gotten much worse under Trump. The bottom Eighty Percent have not gained a dollar in three decades and are presently living paycheck to paycheck. They still have not recovered from the 2008 recession. 

   Teachers are striking because after the recession almost all states cut deeply into education funds. A recent study revealed that 29 states are funding education less in 2019 that they were in 2008! Florida and Arizona are funding at 23% less today than in 2008!
   When did the middle class enter a period of unparalleled growth? Between the end of World War II in 1945 and 1980 when the top income tax rate was over 70%. But in 1980 the California Mafia led by Ronald Reagan’s tremendous tax cuts made the rich richer and the poor and the middle-class poorer. It’s been 30 years since the latter got a significant raise.

Let’s Force Politicians To Wear Their Sponsor’s Clothing

   I have never been interested in cars unless they didn’t run, so I have never been interested in NASCAR races where redneck drivers in colorful costumes keep turning left at high speed for their beer-guzzling fans in the stands. However, when a dozen sign-plastered cars are wiped out of a race in a colorful spectacular accident, I admit I take a peek. The drivers are as colorful as their cars, and you immediately know who is sponsoring them. We should do the same for our politicians who have been put on lay-by, rented, leased, or purchased by the One Percent who actually rules fascist America. Every politician in this sham democracy should wear the logos, signs, and names of their owner-sponsors so we know who owns him.

   We need to know the names of the billionaires who are using their huge fortunes to keep their snout in the trough at the expense of the rest of us. We know some of them, like Jeff Bezos of Amazon, the Koch brothers who inherited a huge bundle from Daddy, a few Wall Street bankers, the Walton family of Walmart, and the billionaire Sacklers who have killed at least 200,000 Americans with Oxycontin and other opiates, but we don’t know many of them. As an example, we need to know who is building a Florida Mansion of Greed  that has 11 kitchens, five swimming pools, and a 30-car garage. We need to know why Amazon has not paid any federal income taxes for two years, a company that has made Bezos the richest man in the world.

  We have about 500 billionaires out of the 2,200 in the world. One would think a few would realize they will lose everything if they continue to destroy our middle-class. The fact is, only a few think so. A few have actually said billionaires should pay more taxes. Those who have bribed Ivy League and Stanford coaches with cash and those institutions with buildings to accept their “pole vaulters,” “rowers,” “volleyball” players, and “scholars” seem to have no idea why “let-them-eat-cake” Queen Antoinette’s head ended up in a French bread basket. Just 26 world billionaires have assets equal to the bottom half of the population. The world now has over 60 million refugees seeking food, clothing, shelter, and respect in other countries. When will the rest seek guns?

How About A Vertical Mall For The Filthy Rich In New York?

   A skyscraper mall and housing complex called Hudson Yards will open soon in New York. Rich New Yorkers will be able to get a $800 haircut, shop at Nieman-Marcus and many other “specialty” stores, stay at a hotel room starting at $700 a night, buy a two-bedroom apartment for $4.315 or a $32 million penthouse, buy a $100,000 Rolex at Cartier, and eat at 25 four and five star restaurants in the tower or immediate area. There ain’t gonna be any McDonald’s, Sears-Roebuck, K-Mart, Payless, or Gap. Over 60% of the condos in the building have been sold. Buildings close by will have 143 residences starting out at $5 million.

   Other great things are happening for billionaires in a development by Central Park nicknamed “Billionaire’s Row.” Hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin just bought the most expensive residence in the U.S. for $238 million, a penthouse of 24,000 sq. ft. occupying three floors starting at the 79th. He may not spend much time there because he owns a $60 million Miami penthouse, a $122 million mansion in London, and a number of other “cheaper” homes around the world. He has an income tax rate about half of what a school teacher pays. He particularly liked the Trump tax cut, but he has been caught complaining he doesn’t have enough influence in politics. All this goes on while public schools in New York have many roofs that leak only when it rains, are lucky when the heating and air conditioning systems actually work, and have big rats battle the students for food during lunchtime.

New York: A Microcosm Of What Is Happening Around The Country

   According to the National Center on Education and the Economy, the average student in Singapore is 3.5 years ahead of her U.S. counterpart in mathematics, 1.5 years ahead in reading, and 2.5 years ahead in science. The think tank has another intriguing statement: “Children as diverse as Canada, China, Estonia, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Singapore consistently outrank their US. counterparts on the basics in education.” Maybe here are some reasons why:

• For students in Detroit, even the water fountains are dangerous.  There are elevated levels of lead in the water in 57 of the 86 schools tested. You certainly have heard of Flint water problems. Drinking water has been shut off in all Detroit schools. The school system does not have the money to replace old lead pipes.

• Meanwhile Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s $40 million yacht is registered in the Cayman Islands to save tax money. It really doesn’t matter much. The DeVos extended Michigan family  owns nine other yachts.

• Non-white school districts receive about $2,200 less per student that districts predominately white. Although non-white districts serve the same number of students as white, they receive a total of $23 billion less in funding.
•  School districts in Republican Oklahoma have lost $300 million in funding since the Recession of 2008. Even in Tulsa’s best schools teachers cannot turn on heat or air conditioning without approval of the principal. Many Oklahoma districts operate only four days a week because of funding.

• By 2020 the average home in San Francisco will sell for $5 million.

• The U.S. has 2.2 million children homeless this year. How many will be Rhodes Scholars instead of roads scholars?