Maskachusetts Teachers Consider Returning to Work

“Reopening and Reimagining Our Public Schools”, from the Massachusetts Teachers Association (a.k.a. “teacher’s union”), describes a theoretical world in which those who are paid to teach actually have to work more than an hour or two per day and may have to commute to a physical school.

Do you send out one email every Monday morning and then host a couple of group video chats later in the week? You’re a hero!

Educators will continue their heroic efforts from this spring and will work hard to make our schools ready for our students this fall. Educators, through their unions and in collaboration with students and families, must play a central decision-making role in the return-to-school plan, district by district. Ultimately, we will decide if these directives have been met by the state and the districts.

Everywhere that the schools previously had a rainbow there will now be a double rainbow:

We cannot go back to the status quo, which was actively harming many of our youth, families, and educators of color, as well as people from other marginalized groups, including our LGBTQ+ students. We must instead be bold and create free and equitable schools where education liberates and empowers our youth so a brighter future is possible for all of us.

[among the “Key Directives”] Curriculum must reflect and affirm our LGBTQ+ students.

This is a bit odd when you think about it. LGBTQIA+ students weren’t being reflected and affirmed previously. I am sure that we will all agree that this was a terrible situation. But who created that situation if not the very unionized teachers who now say that the situation must end? What was stopping them from reflecting and affirming LGBTQIA+ students six hours per day every day?

There is one Key Directive that is worth putting in bold:

Eliminate MCAS and reevaluate the ways our public schools are assessed.

In other words, the only objective test of student learning has to be tossed out. (Admittedly, the raw MCAS does not measure school performance that well since the children of well-educated parents tend to score highly even if their teachers don’t teach anything.)

Teachers should be hired and promoted based on skin color:

We must prioritize hiring, retaining and promoting educators of color.

But will the older white teachers resign or subject themselves to firing in the event of poor performance in order to make room for educators of color?

Here’s a principle that I can support wholeheartedly:

Every student — and every educator — deserves access to the basic tools of a modern society: a computer and reliable internet access.

Would someone please tell this to Comcast?

As soon as the first person anywhere in the state gets a fever in November and a positive coronavirus test, the teachers will go back home to their pets and gardens:

Educators must be supported with … effective practices for crisis learning remotely.

Districts must provide support … if we are again forced to return to crisis learning remotely.

One fact that I learned about a private school was that they have already wired up every classroom with video cameras so that students who need to stay home for any reason can participate remotely and see what is going on in the physical class.

A related document from the same union: “Facing the Coronavirus as a Just Community: An Agenda for Our Public Schools and Colleges and for the Common Good”. Some excerpts:

The MTA is a union of 116,000 educators … We are entering a dangerous and unknown peak period of this pandemic. … We present these demands of local and state officials …

Keep schools closed statewide for as long as necessary to ensure the health of students, faculty, and staff. No educator should be required to come to work when schools are closed for students. Any vulnerable staff should be able to stay home with no loss of pay or benefits.

All educators – full-time, part-time, hourly and per-diem workers, including teachers, secretaries, paraprofessionals, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and substitute teachers – must be fully paid during this time,

Guarantee that pay and pensions are not affected by the pandemic.

Declare a moratorium on all educator evaluations

Based on the above, I don’t think my friend is going to get that property tax refund he had been expecting based on the fact that his middle schoolers did not receive any education after mid March.

[Our own town of Lincoln, Massachusetts will presumably be one of the last to reopen its schools due to the fact that the square footage is going to be dramatically reduced via a $110 million construction project that moves children into cramped trailers with minimal windows and doors from 2020 through 2023:

They couldn’t find a place to build a new building on the 70-acre campus (above) while continuing to use the old building.]

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Massachusetts private school students zoom ahead

The school in our town shut down on the afternoon of March 12. Initially, the school decided that teachers wouldn’t be tasked with any online teaching. This was consistent with my theory that #1 priority for a public school is welfare enterprise for employees and that #2 priority was teaching.

This theory turned out to be wrong. Our email inboxes were flooded with content regarding the school’s heroic efforts to continue providing meals to students entitled to welfare. Could the school add $300/month to the mom’s EBT card and task her with microwaving whatever was purchased from a supermarket? Apparently that would be too challenging, so the school decided that they would have people come in to cook every day (spreading coronavirus to each other?) and then hire drivers in school buses to deliver the food to students, most of whom were located a 30-minute drive away in Boston (part of the METCO program that brings exotic skin colors to the suburbs while relieving wealthy Boston skyscraper owners from paying property tax).

How about the teachers? They email students with some assignments on Monday morning. These review material previously taught. They host a couple of Google Classroom hangout sessions each week, in which the students chat amongst themselves.

Facebook post from the father of an 8th-grade student here in our town (soon to be home to the most expensive school, per student, ever constructed in the United States):

Quarantine Day 30+ in a district with some of the highest teacher salaries in Massachusetts and a future $100m middle school building:

How was your video lesson with your teachers today? Have you guys started learning something new?

Papa, seriously, today we talked about our teachers’ dogs, dogs other teachers would love to get, and some other unrelated nonsense. For 45 minutes.

A follow-up:

“Papa, our teachers finally stopped pretending. This week’s science homework is ‘reflect on last week’s homework'”

The 8th grader spends roughly five hours per week on schoolwork, including the video chat. There are no grades.

Maybe things are better in Brookline, a top school district within Massachusetts? “The teachers are useless,” said a friend. “The kids are getting nothing.” His perspective was confirmed by another friend in that town: “Very close to giving up on Brookline schools, which have devolved into about one half hour of Zoom per day. It’s teacher’s union saying ‘you can’t make us teach’ and weak administration and School Committee — and somehow parents just aren’t organized enough even here…” (ordinarily she is a huge believer in the power of bigger government to fix any problem, and a loyal Clinton/Warren-style supporter of unionized labor)

How about high school? I ran into a 10th/11th grade English teacher walking his dog in the during what used to be the school day. He described his current work schedule as “intense.” What hours was he actually online with the students? “12-2 every day.”

What about private school? Friends have 3rd and 6th graders in a local school for intellectually and financially elite children. The teachers transitioned seamlessly and immediately to Zoom, working from 8 am to 2 or 3 pm daily. There are substantial homework assignments afterwards, especially for the 6th grader. Although the children are Zooming ahead, so to speak, academically, a lot of parental effort is required. There are numerous breaks and small tasks that require the mother and father to step in at various points throughout the school day.

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Elizabeth Warren wants to fight inequality with a $3 billion ferry for the nation’s richest people

Are you a lower-middle class taxpayer in Iowa or Arkansas? Elizabeth Warren wants you to buy $3 billion in ferry tickets for the nation’s richest people, i.e., folks who can afford summer houses on Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and similar island retreats: “Markey, Warren, Keating Seek Federal Aid for Steamship Authority”:

With the financially strapped Steamship Authority in mind, the Massachusetts Congressional delegation is requesting $3 billion in aid to keep the country’s ferry industry afloat.

In a letter sent to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer on May 7, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and Cong. Bill Keating pleaded for additional dollars for ferries, citing the SSA’s plummet in passenger traffic and the fiscal strains caused by the pandemic.

What else can middle-class taxpayers in the mostly plague-free “flyover” states buy for us?

(How much does $3 billion buy when it is not a U.S. state government spending the money? Indonesia has a Navy with roughly 140 vessels and 55 aircraft to patrol its 3,000 x 1,100 mile territory, which includes 17,504. islands. The total military budget of Indonesia is about $9 billion (Wikipedia), so presumably the Indonesian Navy spends close to $3 billion per year.)

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Old rich white people can play golf again in Massachusetts

Do you belong to a dark-skinned inner-city victim group? Even if you’re under 20 years old and nobody your age has ever died from Covid-19 in Massachusetts, stay in your public housing 2BR with 4 or 5 additional family members please. Wear a mask if you venture out onto the sidewalk or be fined $300.

(The mask law also applies to 3-year-olds, despite the Swiss saying that the science is settled regarding children under 10 not being able to spread the virus.)

What if you’re old, rich, and white? Fore!! “Golf courses in Massachusetts can open, effective immediately”

“We’re All In This Together” is the banner across the main street of our town. Good reminder as one drives one’s $130,000 Mercedes SUV to the golf course!

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Bostonians protest Melania Trump

“Boston Medical Center employees to protest Melania Trump’s visit on Wednesday”:

Some 250 people who work at Boston Medical Center are protesting a scheduled visit Wednesday by first lady Melania Trump to a hospital program that helps babies who were exposed to drugs in the womb, according to opponents of Trump’s appearance.

A local reporter asked on Facebook for “thoughts” on this visit. Here are some sample responses regarding this high-achieving immigrant woman from the locals who describe themselves as “feminists”:

Could be part of a series on other parasites, bedbugs,vampire bats, ticks

She can stay away! We dont want her hypocritical interest in children here. Please! Is she only going to visit the rooms of white kids? What if there is an immigrant child staying there? Will she kick them out of the hospital? The visit is a joke!

Differences between escort services in New York and Boston.

[One difference is that the escort who gets pregnant in New York harvests a maximum of $100,000/year (tax-free) for 21 years while in Boston the child support profits are potentially unlimited and the payments last for 23 years. See Real World Divorce and “Child Support Litigation without a Marriage”.]

Fake breasts, fake personality, fake husband

My comments might not be suitable for the Globe…they won’t be too kind. Worst FLOTUS of 45 of them…#BeBest Zero sense of irony – married to the world’s biggest cyber bully and she picked that as her cause? While he puts children in cages and separates mothers from their babies? She had a chance to use her global platform to do good. #epicfail

Every single comment is a no to Melania’s visit! I’m so glad that we live in a smart state!

Now they are moving from NYC to FLA, because we haven’t treated him nicely…Trust me as a life long New Yorker who knew all about DJT when he was just another sleazy socialite, we do not want him here! Floridians you have our deepest sympathies, but please keep him…puhlease!

How much do we need to raise to cover her pre-nup? Freedom for us and the civilized world if we ante up and she spills the beans. My checkbook and pen are at the ready.

No win situation. She’s coming to see an amazing program but also one that confirms a narrow view of brown and black people held by the White House. Yet Bmc depends on federal dollars so protesting- which seems obvious when an anti immigrant admin visits a remarkable institution that welcomes all— puts Bmc funding in jeopardy. It’s a perfect set up for a vindictive small-minded president to confirm his preconceptions and cut funds. Another chance for we liberals to play into trumps hand. For an idiot he sure knows how to agitate us and get the result he wants.

[This last one is my favorite, an acknowledgment that “Big Medicine” depends on “Big Government”.]

It occurred to me that the haters are part of a community that produced enough babies addicted to opiates that a special hospital program had to be created. On the other hand, Melania Trump has, to the best of my knowledge, never produced a single opiate-addicted baby.

Also, given that many of the above sentiments are from women, where is the solidarity among the sisterhood?

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Supercharged ionized alkaline water too pure to be tested by pH strips

The only thing that our neighbors love more than spending $250,000/resident-learner on a new school building is expressing contempt for stupid Republicans and their “anti-Science” attitudes.

What is the beverage of choice for these folks who consider themselves highly intelligent and experts on science? As evidenced by what sells well enough at the town supermarket to merit endcap marketing:

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Fatherhood of a child born after divorce in Massachusetts

A friend’s son got a call the other day from the woman who’d divorced him a year earlier (wedding planning and uncontested divorce legal proceedings combined lasted far longer than the marriage itself). She had found a higher-income sex partner at some point during the brief marriage and it seems that she’d given birth to a child 13 months after a divorce agreement was approved by a judge (this kind of divorce-by-agreement rather than actual litigation happens about 17 percent of time in the county that we sampled within Massachusetts (statistical study for Middlesex)).

The divorce didn’t become final until 120 days following the approval by the judge and Massachusetts presumes that a child born within 300 days of the technical end of a marriage is the responsibility of the ex-husband. A birth certificate application with the new husband’s name on it as the father had been rejected (tough to believe that all of these town and county record-keeping systems are linked!).

The new mom wanted her discarded former husband to sign an Affidavit of Nonpaternity. The situation turns out to be sufficiently common that there is a standard form.

(It wouldn’t have made great financial sense for her to try to collect 23 years of child support from this guy given his low-ish income and the fact that a DNA test might get him off the hook, but marrying the lover/biological father and collecting from the ex-husband can work; see “Post-Divorce Litigation” for a link to a NY Times article about an example situation:

“I pay child support to a biologically intact family,” Mike told me, his voice cracking with incredulity. “A father and mother, married, who live with their own child. And I pay support for that child. How ridiculous is that?”

)

Related:

  • Q&A on this topic with answer from lawyer: “You, as the bio-dad, have no rights if legally the child has another father. … If his rights are not terminated, you can file for child support and he must pay it.”
  • discussion forum thread, in which a responder asks the new sex partner of the divorce plaintiff: “Just to toss this out there; are you 100% [sure] this is your child?” (also provides some insight into how long it may take to litigate a no-fault divorce in Massachusetts: “My GF and myself have been together for 4 years, and now have a baby together. However she is in the process of getting Divorced but its not final yet.”)
  • relevant statute

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Harvard graduate discovers that the suburbs are packed with narrow-minded white heterosexuals

The old white guy who led the First Parish church in our suburban town, a union of Congregational and Unitarian, retired. The Millionaires for Obama on the church hiring committee found Manish Mishra-Marzetti, a young Indian-American (Indian from India, not Indian like Elizabeth Warren) to become the new minister (in 2015). He, his husband, and their two adopted kids (characterized as “African American” in the video link below) moved into our midst.

On paper, at least, this guy is exactly the kind of person that the residents say that they want to assist and/or get to know better. He’s the child of immigrants. His skin is nearly as dark as a Virginia Democrat headed out for a party. He identifies as LGBTQIA. He organized trips to our southern border to assist migrants. He sermonized against the evils of Trump and Trump supporters.

In a YouTube talk, he tells the story of playground interactions with the soccer moms. Spoiler alert: He bailed out on our boring suburb and moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan. This can’t be because he didn’t want to pay the 30-percent property tax increase (we are demonstrating our commitment to environmentalism by bulldozing a 140,000-square-foot school, having trailers trucked in to house students for three years, and constructing an identical-sized school on the same spot (full story); at $110 million and considered per-town-resident-student, this will be the most expensive school ever built in the United States). As pastor, he received free housing from the church and I don’t think that the church-owned house was subject to property taxation.

Watch the video (start at 8:30 if you’re pressed for time) and see what the Harvard Divinity School graduate learned!

The video made the rounds on our town’s mailing list. Some excerpts from the Millionaires Who Hate Trump (formerly the Millionaires for Obama):

Where is the outrage? The outrage each and every one of us should feel that we are the cause of this man and his family moving half way across the country so they could feel welcome!

Being black in America is dangerous, especially these days. Being a woman in America is dangerous as well. Being a Muslim is dangerous. Being any person of color… Being poor and homeless is dangerous as well – and there are homeless in the suburbs, even [Happy Valley].

When we were in our adoption classes years ago, one lesson I heard there and have learned over and over again is that if our children say they are being discriminated against, we had best believe them. For those of us that are members of the dominant society, it is not possible to fully recognize all the nuances of racism.

It’s unfortunate that the First Parish could be blamed for Manish’s
unhappiness, because they extended an invitation to him and his
non-traditional family, which other organizations might have denied. [i.e., because it was two daddies and two adopted children, this guy should have been grateful for the job because the rest of the country is even more hostile to gay multi-racial families? Where is the evidence that other Americans are yet more racist?]

it’s awesome how open and welcoming Ann Arbor has been, guess I need to check my own prejudgment of the general Midwest! [the minister’s new job, mentioned favorably in the video, is in Ann Arbor; folks here know so much about the rest of the U.S. that they assume Ann Arbor is solid MAGA land! (the square around Ann Arbor voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016)]

He talks about his children which is a difficult issue for a male parent. [What better way to show one’s lack of prejudice than to assert that men are inferior at handling the challenge of talking about children?]

The perceived’symbolic moat around our Town should be a wake-up call that I hope our Town leaders will address. Perhaps the [Board of Selects] might consider forming a Task Force on Ethnic and Gender Diversity and Inclusion in [Happy Valley]. The enormous amount of money we are spending on a school building will not make a “school” unless we teach the values of embracing differences to both parents and children in school and outside in “playgroups”.

As a person of color [who let her in?!?], I am quite tired of “seeing the intent” of my fellow citizens, and having to assume the best of them every time I’m asked where I’m from (or even “where my people are from” if I don’t play along nicely. Even in the [Happy Valley] post office I was asked if I was from Outer Mongolia. Hey, I’m from New Jersey.) I’ve spent a lifetime of assuming the best of people when they make me feel like “other.” Maybe it’s time for the majority to take a deeper look at their own biases and presumptions. Please don’t whitesplain Manish.

Do you know how many times I’ve been asked where I’m from? Exactly zero. Because I’m white. It’s not difficult to understand how a question like that, given our society’s history, could bother a person of color who not only has to field the question frequently but recognizes that the question often comes with undertones of “do you belong here?” [You belong if you want to spend $250,000 per town-resident student on a renovated school!]

I cannot convey enough how valuable this book has been for me. Everyone can get something from it. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo [I don’t think it addresses how whites should deal with the fact that average white IQ and income is lower than average Asian-American IQ and income]

Speaking as a woman who was an international athlete in the 70’s and who suffered greatly from the negative assumptions then prevailing about physically strong women and the privileges available to male athletes which were denied to women, I can attest that although times have changed for the better, I still see anti-female intent in events where others don’t necessarily see it. The Kavanaugh interviews were a good example.

[From a guy with an Indian-sounding name] Most (All!) immigrants are vulnerable. On some difficult circumstances they had to leave their native country. They are looking for support and help. [Maybe the U.S. could set up a program where an immigrant who wants support and help could get free housing, food, health insurance, and smarthphone from the government? To be funded by taxes on the native-born…] Hence an immigrant can feel intimidated by seemingly unfriendly questions. … The color of skin adds another layer of sensitivity. Here it is a function of profiling the person as less intelligent or of lower character. I observe this as a cultural issue in the US because of the history. Because of my own skin tone, i have faced such individuals.

On Sunday afternoon, over a hundred people gathered [at the church] for a facilitated workshop and discussion of our reactions to the video. … The First Parish, founded in the New England tradition of individual thought and conscience, is a democracy. [I wonder how long a member would last after expressing the individual thought that Donald Trump would make a better president than Hillary Clinton!] Many people who thought they had gone out of their way to welcome Manish and his family to the church and to [Happy Valley] are disappointed by their failure to make that welcome fully understood. [The white say-gooder (few actually take action and rise to the level of “do-gooder”) is doomed to be misunderstood] We do need to take a careful look at who we are and who we appear to be when we deal with newcomers and people who feel like outsiders. [i.e., the problem is mostly the appearance of white narrow-mindedness]

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Massachusetts ballot questions

This year we voters in the Land of Righteousness (i.e., Massachusetts) get to decide…

Question 3: whether the government should continue to be able to imprison people for up to 1 year and/or fine them up to $50,000 for failing to keep up with proper thinking regarding transgender bathroom and locker room access. (boston.com)

Question 1: whether the government should set the maximum number of patients a nurse can take care of (varies by type of facility, e.g., 3 patients/nurse in “step-down” and 1 patient per nurse for ICU; see boston.com)

Question 2: creates a commission to study ways to work around the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United. Decries the “corporate takeover of the First Amendment”

Can we infer from the above that citizens are more or less happy with everything else that goes on in our state?

Question 3 is the most interesting one. The current law is from 2016 and provides for correct bathroom thinking. Anyone who identifies as a woman can use a women’s locker room, for example. Folks in Massachusetts pride themselves on not being racist, sexist, and stupid, like the Trump supporters in other states. And yet tens of thousands of seemingly righteous Massachusetts voters signed a petition to put a “restore hatred and improper thinking” question on the ballot.

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