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 ‘took off’ on the Michigan Education Association. “That’s been the biggest frustration for me, as your representative, is to think we’re on the same team, yet we’re constantly being beaten up by these people,” he said. “It’s kind of like one of your kids coming to you and yelling and screaming at you, saying, ‘Dad, I want my allowance.’ – ‘What do you mean you want your allowance? You haven’t emptied the basket, you haven’t mowed the grass and I sure don’t appreciate your language and your attitude.’” Really Phil? “ ... beat up by these people ...” Beat up? These people? Which people, Phil? Who are “these people?” 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’t “emptying the basket” or “mowing the lawn,” Phil? In his now famous editorial, Frosty Troy of the Oklahoma Observer wrote: “The 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 – the desegregation of America, this time along class lines. “Who 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? “Feeding the hungry? Last year, for nearly 30 percent of public school children, a school lunch was the only hot meal they got. “Clothing the naked? There’s 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. “The widow’s mite? The average teacher spent more than $400 of personal funds for such things as workbooks and pencils for poor children. “Role models? No other profession provides a higher percentage of Sunday school teachers. “Suffer 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? “Look who comes to public school ... “Six million for whom English is a second language. “Six million special education children. “More than two million abused children. “Nearly 500,000 from no permanent address. “One out of four comes from extreme poverty, often born out of wedlock, and many are neglected, unwashed, unwanted, and unloved. “Public 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’s degrees.” Were the “these people” you were talking about teachers, Phil? Or were “these people” 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’s work, and have a decent life in the offing. The bosses didn’t like it. Unions cut into their profit. Henry Ford’s 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. “Those people?” Yelling? Screaming? About what, Phil? About decent, workable funding for public education? That’s a bad thing? What haven’t “they” done to deserve wages that are generally less than what a legislator — what Phil Potvin — makes in Lansing? What basket haven’t they emptied? What lawn haven’t they mowed? What child haven’t they tried to educate as the public education system is crumbling around them — because you think your business buddies will create new jobs if only they get a tax break. C’mon Phil. You tell local educators and students you’re always ready to listen, then you turn around and call them a bunch of whiners. Gimme a break.