Sunday, March 25, 2012

Corporations, Governments, Public Schools, Unions are People

With the Republican/Tea Party presidential campaigns pandering to conservatives in Wisconsin this week, it is a tough time to try to shake loose from the entanglements of Governor Scott Walker’s dichotomous design. Nonetheless, the beautiful spring weather continues to soften my soul. Light and dark converge, once again, landing me in the twilight zone.

To the chagrin of my progressive friends—who continue to dog the dark-side’s presidential frontrunner for his most famous campaign comment--I concur with Mitt Romney’s remark that “corporations are people.”  However, as another Steve logically explains, if corporations are people, then “governments are people, too.” In the same vein, public schools are people, too.

When you put a face to them, hating corporations is hard.  While the dodging of taxes by many corporations has a dark-side quality, these organizations are comprised often of our neighbors, friends, and relatives. 

Recently, a good friend of mine’s workplace was occupied. While I support the Occupy movement’s exposure of the growing income inequality in America, my relationship with my friend personalized this occupy incident. Associating my friend’s corporation with the dark side is tough, when I am forced to think of her wonderful qualities. Like most my friends, she is an all-around great person, charitable, social-minded, and progressive. The corporation for which she works is notably large and powerful; however, her progressive-minded presence and interconnectedness with other like-minded workers at her workplace makes this corporation less scary to those of us on the outside.

While the previous two paragraphs might sound like I am prepping for a Romney rally this week, I would surely be hauled off by the Republican/Tea Party supporters if I applied this same organizations-are-people logic to governments, public schools, and public workers unions.

For those of us who have spent our lives in schools, we understand public schools are people. We embrace public schools as Professional Learning Communities of developing learners, sincere social workers, compassionate counselors, caring parents, dedicated professional educators, invaluable support staff, and well-meaning administrators.

Public schools are social constructs as aptly described by my local superintendent. "We aren't a factory model where we're dealing with things…We're not only dealing with people, but also people's most precious commodity—their children,” said Dr. Karen Schulte, in the face of a potential school closing made possible by a Walker-worsened school budget deficit.

The public educators sanctioned to guard these precious little people are your neighbors, friends, and relatives. Wisconsin public educators are willing members of vital teachers unions. These unions are people, too.

The Republican/Tea Party friends politicking in Wisconsin this week will continue to espouse the Walker myth of unions as scary institutions controlled by heartless bosses. Sadly, they will ignore that the public supports public workers and their right to collectively bargain. Wisconsin parents know that teachers unions are comprised of dedicated educators, like recently-recognized Hall of Fame teacher, Deb Tackmann from Eau Claire,  who deeply care for their children. Public school supporters know education is personal.

For Wisconsin to truly move forward, we must recognize the humanity of corporations, governments, public schools, and unions. We cannot build a state by dividing it. We must see the interconnectedness of all organizations and the people who make up these establishments (as a fellow educator fittingly explains). 

Our capitalist system must have a soul. We must value public schools and their educators, who nurture and develop job creators and the people who will service the job creator’s creations. We must not balance state budgets solely on the backs of public workers, which is proven to hurt us all.  We must also recognize the value of the corporations where our friends, relatives, and neighbors work.

Corporations, governments, public schools, unions are people. We, the People, in order to form a more perfect union, must embrace this egalitarian worldview.

1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite protest signs I've seen around: "I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one."

    Have you read Lois Weiner's Teacher Unionism Reborn? Great article explaining the shift in perspective we need of unions. Here's one quote that goes along with your article: "The synergy of business unionism’s hierarchical ethos and the legal framework giving unions the right to bargain on behalf of teachers, namely exclusive representation as bargaining agent, the right to collect "agency fee" (payment to the union of what is generally the equivalent of dues, to cover expenses the union expends in negotiating and enforcing the contract), and dues check-off (automatic deduction of dues from the member’s paycheck) has encouraged a totally bureaucratic approach to contract enforcement, member passivity, and erosion of the union’s school-site presence."