Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Rambling Thoughts

before humans face extinction, the public schools and teacher unions will go first. Teachers will be hunter/gatherers for health and pension plans.
I don't want to be a total downer because I feel good and am looking forward to our trip to Pennsylvania today for a family Thanksgiving where there will be loads of good food and family fun. Many of us were together at a wedding in Washington DC last month and despite political differences things didn't get too heavy.

As I approach my 72nd birthday in March I am trying to spend more time living for the moment -- working at the Rockaway Theatre Company building sets, taking a Sunday morning acting class and a Weds evening water color class, hot yoga and maybe soon Tai Chi, planning my next spring moves in my creative garden, working on my basement this winter - making work spaces for creative projects - can't wait to get that 2000 piece jigsaw puzzle, a family cruise in February. I've been in a writing group for about 10 years and my colleagues have encouraged me to restart a novel, which I started 5 years ago and so I have and have 6 chapters complete. And catching up on my reading escape fiction. And playing with my cats. I've reached the age where thinking of the future takes 2nd place to living for the moment -- which is why after experiencing the Sandy hurricane and the early deaths of a couple we were close too, following the dictum that you can't take it with you, we decided to finally use some of that TDA money to get a backup apartment in Manhattan as an escape valve. As we were signing the papers I thought - what if you can take it with you? Can you still get a mortgage in hell?

In the political sphere I decided to bring back a limited edition of hard copy of Ed Notes for the Delegate Assembly and I will attend some Ex Bd meetings to support our great EB people.

How much do I want to allow political angst to get in the way of good karma? I've tried cutting back on my political work in MORE and the UFT. It's not easy to escape the pull of almost 50 years of UFT gravity. But an infusion of helium has given me some lift. Some of that helium has come from some sense that MORE has too many limits but it is still fun to be involved to some extent - more now as an observer rather than trying to influence its direction. But I'm not unhappy I went to Minneapolis to the AFT convention in July and can see going to Pittsburgh in 2018. So I am not cutting the cord but being more selective.

I'll write more about this but the stuff you read about class vs identity politics regarding the recent election - I have been putting them up on ed notes because that same issue has been playing in MORE since the day it began almost 5 years ago.

I no longer think of myself as a teacher, though when I've gotten a few opportunities it is always exhilarating. But so much work.
But I stay involved due to personal relationships - I want to support the people who do work that can make a difference but I don't want to actually do very much. I really enjoyed doing the ATR event and we are having an ICE meeting next Friday -- as  much social for me as political.
There's no question that some passion for the ed wars has dissipated. Like I'm not outraged at Trump's appointment of Betsy DeVos like so many others - I never expected anything less than her. In some sense I prefer her to the Duncans and John Kings or the alt Moskowitch or Rhee. DeVos makes the lines of struggle clear. Maybe the anti-deformers will engage in the kind of local battles needed - or not and the public schools and unions will become extinct like the dinosaurs -- Is DeVos/Trump the equivalent of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs? Randi has been railing about the appointment -- while 30% or more teacher union members voted for Trump - does she take any responsibility for that?

So many people are dreading Thanksgiving family events over the possibility of food fights breaking out. I've been told to keep my mouth shut today by my wife, who has never exhibited such passion for politics until this time and she is way angrier than I am  -- but in fact I am more interested in talking football today than politics with pro-Trump family. One of our liberal cousins is a Dallas fan. I may argue more with him than with the Trumpets who I will smile at and say let's look at where we are in the next 2-4 years when I expect to be saying "I told you so."

I am reaching the point of not wanting to waste psychic energy on being angry or spending my life trying to change things. I am a dystonian, expecting disaster to strike from numerous directions -- climate change, a meteor, nukes, plague, locusts -- who knows what else? I'm having trouble trying to worry about humanity, given that I think humans will one day be left in small hunter/gatherer bands - if there's much left to hunt or gather, while the rich escape to outer space. Maybe I'm lucky not having my own children to worry about so the worry about the future is more intellectual than emotional. If I had kids I would be a basket case.

But before humans face extinction, the public schools and teacher unions will go first. Teachers will be hunter/gatherers for health and pension plans.

And I can guarantee that whatever fight the undemocratic union hierarchy puts up the leaders will not change or modify the way they do things because it is in their DNA - thus watch them line up with those opposed to any move from the left to take over the Dem Party. Our leaders have known the end is coming with vouchers which everyone feared Regan would institute - but since the early 80s have compromised in so many ways with ed deformers to postpone the inevitable. If they had fought the very idea of charters they had a chance - though even that was slim.

Think of this -- since I began teaching in 1967 - the old BOE and the Bloomberg and de Blasio DOE has sucked - from so many angles. Is this what we are defending when we defend public education?

I leave you with this happy Thanksgiving thought:
Will we reach the day when Eva Moskowitch actually looks better running the NYC school system than the alternatives?


  1. Other than the meteor you might need to worry more about the grandkids.

  2. Best of luck on your new adventures!

  3. Your observations and commentary are rooted in a deep understanding of the problems that plague our country, our union and the two dominant politcal parties. I may not always agree with you but I truly respect you, Norm Scott and I wish you success with living in the moment....something we all should do for our own sanity amd quality of life. I can't imagine myself giving any thought to education once I am retired. I have other interests that will take up my time if I am fortunate to survive until 55. My hat is off to you for dedicating so much of your time to us. Every working teacher in this country owes you a debt of gratitude for your service. Enjoy your new adventures---you more than earned it. Roseanne McCosh

  4. Where's your Manhattan apt?


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