Friday, 28 April 2017

bank and credit card interest

One is too high and one is too low. I thought interest used to be tied to something sort of like the gold standard or that secret metal stick that is exactly a yard long or whatever.

Grass and fink. Two strange words for tattletale, which is also a bit strange...

Who first said that people shouldn't tell on each other for doing bad things?
Teachers who don't like to hear the complaints of victims in school are only letting potential future monsters get away with stuff and giving them the freedom they need to take over the world with their grubby little grabby hands. The tattletale was usually the least popular kid, and maybe he did crave attention, but wasn't he just doing what he thought was right? And really, wasn't he just doing what WAS right? When did it become normal to just let bad stuff happen without saying a word?

I'm not necessarily advocating telling people's secrets to anyone who will listen. But the chances are probably near 100% that we all know a cheater, a dealer, a speeder, an evader, a liar, etc. We all hate lying politicians, but give the benefit of the doubt to pretty much everyone else we encounter. Getting away with unfair things all their life creates lying politicos. These are the people who had enough personality, charisma and influence to get others to hold their tongues. How many people you know could be a politician with no closet skeletons? This Schultzian "I know nothing" behaviour begets worse down the road. It must because we learn so much from our successes and failures. Every time a kid gets away with something it gives them confidence that they will get away with it again. A successful bluff in poker will never be the last bluff.

I know some of you are thinking that some of my best friends are probably cheaters and dealers and speeders and evaders and liars. Yes, this is all possibly true, but that's because we have bad laws and some of our norms are horribly outdated. We need to make better laws and discuss our norms honestly then then enforce the new ones that should hopefully actually make sense. Prohibition on drugs is not ever going to work. Legalize, regulate, educate about and tax. Speed limits are too low. Increase them to realistic numbers and enforce them consistently. Simplify the tax system and get rid of loopholes. Cheaters and liars who do real harm, like swindlers of the elderly with money scams or credit card fraudsters, for example, should be put in jail for a really really long time and should go on a published and public registry like released molesters.

Gangs, police, governments, social status, families, friendships, unions, charities, etc. all rely on fudging the numbers and turning the proverbial blind eye (!!) to stay in business. Don't rock the boat, be a team player, don't bite the hand that feeds you, toe the line or in other words, shut up and play nice, no matter what you might encounter. It's not your place to comment; it's not up to you to pass judgment. In my small sampling, cheating in schools is worse than it was just 5 years ago. Kids today either cheat or shut up. No one would dare tell on a cheater in today's classrooms.

Big business and banking have been so successful, so often, because of all the stuff we don't know about. Back-room deals, Swiss bank-accounts, tax-evading, where chemicals are dumped, what chemicals are used and have there been enough studies and a hundred other horrible and unjust things are some of the ways that governments and businesses get away with the swindles every day. And they are all products of this new-ish secretive norm. Look at this oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. It's been spewing for a month and everyone knows... and what? Hot potatoes are passed, facts and fudged and denied, governments are slow to react, companies will just pay some cash and stock prices will drop a little and they will go on making billions. Isn't this something we should have figured out by now?

All those great exposé documentaries and the non-fiction section in any bookshop tell tales of corruption, lying, cheating and greed. These books and films are the big and modern equivalent of finking on your friend for stealing the Hershey Bar from Kim's Grocery and while they do get more respect generally from the artsy crowd with a keen sense of justice, they do not have the effect they should. The exploratory reporting of papers like the Guardian and the New York Times is read daily and debated and commented on by interested people on all sides of every debate, but almost nothing changes. Look at a popular show like 60 Minutes. It makes a small dent in things once in a while, but ultimately not much is different. We all know this. And yet, the shut-up-and-play-nice thing is still the norm in most of society. Investigative journalism has cornered the market on finking without prejudice.

A few people complain and protest, but they are called radicals, rabble-rousers, trouble makers, the lunatic fringe, communists, anarchists and the like. I'm not personally fond of protesting, but I'm sure glad someone does it...

A very simple problem.

I do not like it when people do not do what they say they are going to do.

If governments, companies, societies, and on a very basic level, people just simply did what they said they were going to do, the world would be a better place.

How many times have you said you would go for coffee with someone when you didn't mean it? If someone suggests to me that we go for coffee, I assume that it's a sincere offer of wanting to, at some point in the next, say, 2 months, actually sit with me somewhere and have coffee. If you do not want to have coffee with me, do not suggest we have coffee. London was really bad for the "Let's go for a pint some time" thing. This is said 100s of times every day in London, partly because there are so many people and partly because there are so many good places to have a drink, and I came to discover that either I was not very popular or I brought this out in people or people there just do it a lot. "Let's go for a pint some time", in London, means "Bye, I'll probably only see you again by fluke and really I have much better people to drink with" or at least that's what it felt like...

I'll definitely be there at 2 to help you move or for our soccer game or for your kid's birthday means, to some people, apparently, "I'm not coming". I'll never understand this. Are many of us too shy or self-absorbed or socially stunted to just be honest about these things?

That is the very basic way this is annoying. But I think it can be expanded. If governments, schools (and I'm a teacher...), businesses, societies, radio stations, think tanks, etc. etc. did what they were mandated to do... did what it said on the tin (again for the UKians), all would be well.

An appeal to Green voters... And non-voters too? A Facebook post I'd like people to read

Excuse this very long BC, Canada-centric political interruption. Please ignore at will. Also, sorry for repeating this junk so much all over the Internet for years.

I'm not sure how many friends I have who support Christy and the Libs, but you can stop reading now....

Ok, they're gone. I really really really don't want the Libs to win again and I'm really very worried that the left/progressive/whatever/non-Christy vote will once again divide itself up between Greens and NDP and the Libs will slip through. And please remember the Liberals paid for some Green advertising last election, and there are a couple former Lib insiders twittering about Lib strategy meetings concerning this exact issue. They rely on the Greens to take leftie votes. And yes of course the Greens take some votes from Libs too, but there is polling showing NDP are more frequently the second choice for Green voters. Accurate or not, the main point will be somewhere below.

I understand some people like the Greens (even though Weaver isn't very cool about teachers and unions, hmm..), and I know some of you have good friends and relatives running and supporting the Greens. I've never run for office. It's a good and difficult thing to do. I respect the process and personal choice and all that, but I'm mostly into the 'greater good' thing which trumps (oh god...) all for me.

In this election, with this electoral system, with all past and current polling, the NDP is the only party with any chance at all of getting rid of the Liberals. It's not personal (except against the Liberals), the NDP isn't owed your vote, no one is telling you how to vote. It's just math that everyone should understand.

Please think about the strange math of a first-past-the-post election and adjust accordingly depending on which is more important to you: supporting a Green candidate who might be lovely and a great future politician, but who will definitely lose in all but 3 or 4 ridings OR getting rid of Christy and the Libs. IF you pick the former as the most important of those two, please vote Green. It's fine. Like I said, no one is telling you how to vote. I just want everyone to fully understand what our votes will actually do and if you're ok with the Libs in power again, so be it. I lose and I think we all lose. IF the latter is more important, you have to (hold your nose?) vote NDP (unless you're in one of the 3 or 4 ridings where Greens are legitimately strong).

NDP, if they win, will have a referendum on electoral reform. We will hopefully vote to reform it, and Greens could get 8? 10? 12? seats next time and keep growing.

One odd bit for me is the Liberals will be much worse than the NDP for the environment. That is supposed to be the Green's main focus, no? If climate change is really the main freaky concern, you want them gone now, no?

Anyway, Libs will definitely not change our electoral system, so Greens will get 1 or 2 seats for the foreseeable future because the NDP and Lib bases are just too large. Maybe one day Vancouver Island will be its own Green province. It's way bigger than PEI...

Ok, brevity has never been my strength. Pick this apart if you like, but I think I'm right... Please notice the big IFs. Thanks, IF you made it this far.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

A ranty reply to this:

A nerve is touched because your message is ill-informed and one-sided. It takes 2 and all that, so it seems to me that blame should be leveled evenly, at the very least, but for you it's not, so I'm struggling to see how this opinion piece is helpful at all.

Us teachers might not agree with each other all the time, but for better or worse, the BCTF is its teachers and vice versa. A beef with us is a beef with it; a beef with it is a beef with us. I'm not sure where this need to divide us comes from... A few teachers I know and respect wish things were handled differently, but that's going to happen in any organization trying to represent 40000+ people. Life isn't perfect, but I'm pretty sure (some might argue with me, and fair enough) that without the BCTF all BC teachers would be making significantly less.

The kids as pawns thing is SO BORING. There is no way around children being involved in this because children are simply inherently involved. We love kids and love teaching. We don't want to strike; we don't want to remove any services; we don't want to affect kids in any negative way at all, which is why we need MORE good-faith bargaining from our employer rather than years and years of less. They know if they come to the table with sub-par offers and contract stripping there is little choice for us other than using the only leverage we have; don't make us use it every single contract. Come to the table with even median offers compared to other provinces; come to the table with apologies for illegally removing things from our agreed upon contracts, and ways they can be returned without breaking the bank in the first year. We are supported by the province, so support us and negotiate. We start high (which is entirely normal & logical, by the way), they start low (also normal & logical), and then we work from there. But currently they've created this ceiling beyond which their negotiators cannot go. They call us greedy in the press, which the press eats up of course, but really I'm pretty sure we could all find some actually greedy people to get angry at, no?

Rhetoric is also a pretty boring word that gets thrown around a lot. I'm pretty sure he's saying similar stuff because there aren't too many other ways to say negotiations aren't going well and we aren't being funded adequately. Spend the right amounts of money (negotiable) in the right ways (also negotiable) and things will get a lot better.

There have been a few posts in various spots on the internet lately about hours worked. The 188 days thing is a strange bit of relative. Many occupations have longer hours and days, and take things home etc., but most of those occupations are better paid than teaching. Teachers work hard. A few people have recently made the mistake of saying that teachers work harder than anyone else. This isn't true, but I think that's just a reaction to being super tired of hearing about how easy our jobs are, summers off, 9-3, blah blah. I won't go into details here, but suffice it to say that if teachers had to work 49 or 50 weeks per year, we'd have to be paid a million bucks and 90% of us would burn out after about 2 years. And anyway, more occupations should have more holidays. I'd love to see 4-day weeks become a real thing for everyone eventually, but that's just me maybe, and I digress...

The teaching surplus is in part because the universities keep churning out new teachers, and in part because of policy decisions that have dropped the number of jobs, but simple supply and demand (I've repeated this often and plan on writing about it more) simply doesn't apply here. Our employer is negotiating with 41000 people who need a new contract, not with 5000 (or whatever) out of work teachers. There are a few jobs with actual scarcity when simple S&D works. Contracted labour positions in remote, northern climates? Sure, pay more to attract people. Genius, disease-curing doctors? Sure, pay tons for the greater good. But important professionals who need to survive in an inflating economy need regular increases to be maintained. The list of jobs that would NEVER receive an increase because of oversupply is a long one. Journalist being near the top, but we don't apply simple supply and demand only to them either because it just isn't that simple. Jobs have value and people good at their jobs need to be maintained to keep that value.

Civil service type jobs (teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, bus drivers) need to be supported by society and shouldn't have to feel guilty about negotiating fair compensation. When most people walk into their boss's office they don't have to contend with media, parents, students, and my favourite, random angry yelly internet types, but we always do. Are people particularly angry about what landscapers make? How about chefs? How about snooker players? How about firefighters? How about researchers? How about dentists? How about dieticians? I could go on and on and on and list all the jobs that don't make people spitting angry when they get wage increases. I'd bet pretty good money on people not even really knowing or caring how much any of those other jobs make. Why is that? What is it about teaching (and stand-up comedy, but that's another story) that makes so many people think they could easily do it, or that it's easy? What is it about teaching that makes people so grumpy about how much we make? I don't care what you make (unless you make minimum wage, then I definitely think you should make more!), and I wouldn't dream of writing to (or in!) a newspaper about it...

Comparing us to nurses is just about as arbitrary as comparing us to Manitoba, so once again I'm confused by your choices. How does the BC nursing salary compare to nursing salaries in other provinces? Maybe that would be a little fairer comparison. I think I recall them being paid best or second best in the country...

Your StatsCan argument is poor. Obviously admin wages should not be included when calculating teachers' averages. This is logical. The StatsCan numbers for student funding are accurate. They made an odd error in one case, and didn't make an odd error in the latter case. I'm not sure why this is some kind of hilarious irony...

Your entire class size section is a waste of space. Class size only happens to be the largest part of our working conditions. Many studies show that smaller classes are better; it's not simply a sales pitch for privates. Smaller classes are more comfortable for everyone. That's really all there is to it. Beyond the academic improvements, it has to be ok for a union to negotiate working conditions. Three fewer kids in a class won't make your kid a genius, but it will give him or her more one-on-one time and more supports in general. Things are quieter and calmer, behaviour is easier to manage, more elaborate project and group-work is possible, discussions are better developed, and most importantly, those kids who fall through the cracks and hide in the back won't be able to fall or hide as easily. When I teach a class of 30 kids, it's nearly impossible to make sure every kid is doing his or her best. Give me 24 and things are just better in every single way. This is a good place to apply simple supply and demand!

The lockout is absurd. Nothing else to say about that one... And you covered composition pretty well.

The school boards are stretched thin and obviously they don't all have the same problems, but the one they ALL have is funding. Even if teachers never see another cent, funding is not enough. This isn't rhetoric and no one is playing chess with your kids. We are backed into a corner and will probably be removing services, and if we are really so important, maybe people will notice and be angry about that and ask the government to creep the percentage of its budget on education back up just a little.

It was 20% in 2001 and now sits around 12%. That's my big question. Where is the justification for that? We may have lost a few students, but nowhere near 40%.

Oh, my other big question is, why are tax dollars being used for private schools? I have some very good friends whom I respect massively who teach in private schools, so I don't love this part of the conversation, but private schools are private businesses that should not get a dime of public money. The end.

Just realized I plagiarized myself from down there... oops...

Monday, 14 March 2011

A note I wrote about education on another site that I sort of like so I've decided to keep it here too...

The problem is NOT that it's almost impossible to get fired. That would be the problem if an oddly high percentage of teachers were crap. Yes, the tenure thing probably could be discussed more, but MOST teachers are well trained and do their job, just like most people in all other professions. Teaching seems to be in this weird category of not being allowed to want good pay. Why is that exactly?

I'm a teacher and it's way harder than most people understand... It really really is and unless you've tried it you will never understand that. I'm still learning every day and I'm in awe of some of my excellent colleagues. I've only met one teacher in 6 years who I thought shouldn't be a teacher. But his kids think he's quirky and they do well anyway...

AND can you imagine teaching for 49-50 weeks per year?? NO ONE would do it. We'd go totally insane and quit after the first year. OR you'd have to pay someone a million bucks a year to barely scrape by with their sanity...

It's very different to many jobs (every other job I've ever had) where you can sort tune out a bit and check your email and make a call or get a coffee or take a long lunch or head home early and leave it all at the shop or hide from the manager or whatever you might try to get through the day.

It's about 30 kids saying ME ME ME, demanding all of your attention constantly. It's trying to make sure they're paying attention, learning, not bullying, bullied or disrupting, not falling behind, not hungry, all while knowing your stuff and routines are worthwhile for them to be in your classroom each day.

And now unfortunately it's also about really caring about your students and your craft while being personally and institutionally berated by back-seat driving assholes who couldn't handle grade fives in a private school.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Toilet etiquette... going for the important stuff!

Ok, I'm a bit tired of the debate about toilet seats. In one of my classrooms (the washroom in an alternate school portable) the other day there was a massive, decorated and very angry sign telling the "boyz" to "put the seat down after use." I think originally this comes from the problem of girls sitting in an open toilet. Is this really that common a problem? First, no one should ever sit down without looking where they're going to sit. I would think this might apply even more importantly when one is near a toilet. Second, if everyone does ONE thing each time they use the toilet everything will be fair. So, hypothetically, a man might put the seat up to use the toilet and then, assuming a woman uses it next, she will put it down. They've both done one thing, which is perfectly fair. If things are as the complaints seem to imply, women want men to put the seat up and then down again so that a woman might never have to touch a toilet. In this scenario men have done two things and women have done none--not a big deal, but not fair either. Personally, I always close the thing entirely so obviously this would also be a problem if one were to sit without looking... Tune in next time when I spill my secrets on how to end all war and poverty!