Well ...well ... well ... The problems of the world just keep coming back to those damn teachers. Those leeches. Those gold diggers. Those ...those ...teachers. Around the state and nation, some members of the GOP have found a great way to shift responsibility for the woes of the world from their own ...um ...er ... interestingly opportunistic fiscal reform policies, to somebody else: Teachers, (and their union of course.) Teachers and the unions have somehow become the root of all financial evil in this state and around the country. Funny thing is, while all kinds of commentators and conservative talking heads spout all kinds of crap about teachers and the unions, most politicians kinda dummy up when they head home. Except Phil Potvin. In a recent legislative meeting held in Big Rapids, Rep. Potvin produced some interesting, (if not educating), statements. Quoted in the Big Rapids Pioneer, Potvin \u2018took off\u2019 on the Michigan Education Association. \u201cThat\u2019s been the biggest frustration for me, as your representative, is to think we\u2019re on the same team, yet we\u2019re constantly being beaten up by these people,\u201d he said. \u201cIt\u2019s kind of like one of your kids coming to you and yelling and screaming at you, saying, \u2018Dad, I want my allowance.\u2019 \u2013 \u2018What do you mean you want your allowance? You haven\u2019t emptied the basket, you haven\u2019t mowed the grass and I sure don\u2019t appreciate your language and your attitude.\u2019\u201d Really Phil? \u201c ... beat up by these people ...\u201d Beat up? These people? Which people, Phil? Who are \u201cthese people?\u201d People who work and live in your district? People worried about school budgets and education funding? Who are you talking about? Are you claiming teachers aren\u2019t \u201cemptying the basket\u201d or \u201cmowing the lawn,\u201d Phil? In his now famous editorial, Frosty Troy of the Oklahoma Observer wrote: \u201cThe crescendo of calumny heaped on public education by the likes of Cal Thomas, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and other politicos is a partisan attack. They promote vouchers and charter schools \u2013 the desegregation of America, this time along class lines. \u201cWho is for spiritual values for kids and who is just kidding? Can you name one other institution that comes nearer to biblical injunctions than public schools? \u201cFeeding the hungry? Last year, for nearly 30 percent of public school children, a school lunch was the only hot meal they got. \u201cClothing the naked? There\u2019s hardly an elementary school in a poor neighborhood in America that does not have a clothing closet stuffed with underwear, socks, and other necessities for have-not children. \u201cThe widow\u2019s mite? The average teacher spent more than $400 of personal funds for such things as workbooks and pencils for poor children. \u201cRole models? No other profession provides a higher percentage of Sunday school teachers. \u201cSuffer the little ones? Who takes millions of little ones who are retarded, developmentally disabled, or mentally handicapped? Who redeems the dispossessed and the delinquent in alternative education programs? \u201cLook who comes to public school ... \u201cSix million for whom English is a second language. \u201cSix million special education children. \u201cMore than two million abused children. \u201cNearly 500,000 from no permanent address. \u201cOne out of four comes from extreme poverty, often born out of wedlock, and many are neglected, unwashed, unwanted, and unloved. \u201cPublic school teachers are scorned on editorial pages and maligned from ignorant pulpits, but they keep on keeping on - and only God knows why. They earn the poorest salaries among all the industrial nations, yet a new study shows they are among the brightest college students, and nearly half hold master\u2019s degrees.\u201d Were the \u201cthese people\u201d you were talking about teachers, Phil? Or were \u201cthese people\u201d union members? It is far, far too easy to forget, that before unions, there was no middle class in this country. There was the upper class, and there was a largely impoverished working class. Unions gave tens of millions of people and millions of families the opportunity to get fair wages for a day\u2019s work, and have a decent life in the offing. The bosses didn\u2019t like it. Unions cut into their profit. Henry Ford\u2019s goons shot at workers in efforts to bust the unions. There was no place for collective bargaining then, and there very apparently is no place for collective bargaining in the world of Phil Potvin. \u201cThose people?\u201d Yelling? Screaming? About what, Phil? About decent, workable funding for public education? That\u2019s a bad thing? What haven\u2019t \u201cthey\u201d done to deserve wages that are generally less than what a legislator \u2014 what Phil Potvin \u2014 makes in Lansing? What basket haven\u2019t they emptied? What lawn haven\u2019t they mowed? What child haven\u2019t they tried to educate as the public education system is crumbling around them \u2014 because you think your business buddies will create new jobs if only they get a tax break. C\u2019mon Phil. You tell local educators and students you\u2019re always ready to listen, then you turn around and call them a bunch of whiners. Gimme a break.