Link to Sponsoring Departments Workers, Jobs, and How This Spills Over into No Child Left Behind

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Workers and Jobs

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: February 5, 2006
Latest Update: February 5, 2006

E-Mail Icon jeannecurran@habermas.org
takata@uwp.edu

Index of Topics on Site Workers, Jobs, and
How This Spills Over into No Child Left Behind
I'm going to spend this whole semester talking about how all the social issues we discuss on Dear Habermas spill over into the No Child Left Behind issue. There is no way I can cover every aspect of this program. But I can summarize extensive material that will help us explore the issue, and you can choose to focus on issues that matter most to you.

On Saturday, February 4, 2006, Harley Shaiken, "a professor specializing on labor and the global economy at UC Berkeley," wrote There's a lot riding on GM and Ford in the Los Angeles Times at p. B 17. Backup. He did a great job of pointing out the social justice effects of the loss of an esimated 65,000 jobs.

I'm used to complaining about the health care provisions, but I was nonetheless dismayed to read:

"Take healthcare costs. U.S. automakers on average spend more than $1,200 a vehicle on them more than is spent on steel. Their competitors average about $450 a car made in their U.S. plants. The difference reflects a much younger workforce. If Ford had Honda's healthcare costs, it would have turned a profit in the U.S. last year, rather than losing $1.6 billion. Outside the U.S., automakers can rely on national health insurance, not collective bargaining, to cover their share of employee health benefits, dampening costs considerably.

On pensions, the story is similar. The former Big Three support 800,000 retirees; their international competitors underwrite fewer than 1,000 from their U.S. operations.

We get used to the Big Three making gas guzzlers and ever bigger cars, and we fail to think about these other problems they're dealing with. "Outside the U.S., automakers can rely on national health insurance . . . " Oops. Of course. You mean we're the only ones that don't have national health insurance?

"The former Big Three support 800,000 retirees; their international competitors underwrite fewer than 1,000 from their U.S. operations." 800,000 compared to only 1000? Why doesn't our government, our media remind us of this? I never meant to screw 800,000 retirees. How could I have forgotten these complexities? I teach complexity, and the need to view the issue from multiple perspectives. How easy it is to look just at your own concerns.

This whole plant closure thing isn't fair. Surprise, surprise. What was your first clue, Sherlock?

Has anyone else ever wondered why part of our nightly TV news couldn't deal with social issues like this? Haven't we slipped a little overboard into touchy-feely freeway chases and murders with gore and gunshots and hackings? If we demand that of our media, why won't they respond? Isn't it about free markets and giving us what will draw us to their station so they can charge more for their advertising? Sorry. Just thinking out loud. But I wish more of us would do that. Let's live out loud. I want to be heard.

I didn't even know we had a job bank. I just typed "job tank," and didn't even notice it was a typo. That's an important program. It sounds like a privatized safety net, in part union, in part corporation. And here's a problem with privatization. Because the corporation and the union control this, we who are not affected can easily remain unaware. That means we have no voice in how profits and worker contributions are managed once the private sector takes over. Yet we're all in this together. How we cope with down-sizing and shifting work to other nations affects us all. We need to know about all these factors.

GM chief: End to job guarantees needed . . . Backup. "GM's Wagoner says GM to seek end to job guarantees for union workers, but not sure he can win deal." By Chris Isidore, CNNMoney.com, senior writer. January 9, 2006: 10:06 AM EST.

I can understand why some conservatives want privatization. Huge bureaucracies are sometimes less manageable and tend not to see us as humans, but just numbers. That's one reason people complain of socialized medicine. But when some people are helped by their corporations and others aren't helped at all, things can get out of balance pretty quickly. The job bank seems to pay workers almost full wages when they are between jobs. What about teachers who lose their jobs because of school budget cuts? Who helps them? These aren't isolated issues that affect only some of us. How we handle our safety nets matters to all of us.

I guess I'm wondering, too. If these are the Big Three, and automakers - autos a big part of our culture - does this mean that we have to have safety nets for those with the Big Three, but not for those with the smallest three? Why is that? Don't we need a watch dog agency of some sort? That might have been the union, or it might not. But who was watching the union? And what's happened to our unions?

And what does all this have to do with No Child Left Behind?

Most parents have to work for a living. When our lives are disrupted by loss of our jobs, whole families are disrupted. The children are frightened, not being able to go out and find work for themselves, and see themselves as failures when they cannot help their families. At a time when social issues mean that 60,000 heart of America workers are about to lose their jobs, we need to see that that means hundreds of thousands of children are affected as their fathers and grandfathers face uncertain economic futures, never mind the fact that mothers and grandmothers are included here, for these days they work, too.

When workers can't live stable lives, their children and families can't live stable lives. We do not learn that way. We learn when we are safe and confident in a nurturing environment with those who love and protect us. Well, we do learn in a terrifying environment; learn how to avoid as best as possible whatever is terrorizing us.

When workers can't live stable lives, they can't see America as protecting them and caring about them. Their mistrust and fear spread to their children. Bandura and Walters insist that children learn more by modeling behaviors around them than we are aware of. If children learn at an early age to mistrust our social system, or see behaviors that they construe as being not protective and caring of them, they won't trust us. What a terrible cost. Children need nurturance, not punishment, not fear.

Young people about to start out with new jobs need to believe that our system cares what happens to them. When they see older people and workers being thrust aside with nothing to guide and help them through employment and health care shifts as we discover how best to adjust to a global network forced upon us with too little planning and no exit strategy, they lose trust that they will be supported, emotionally , psychologically, and economically in their turn. Private corporations have learned that employee loyalty and trust is a valuable asset. Government may need a little help in going there.

How do we reach young people, teach them solid leadership and management, when if they no longer trust us? Trust comes of a lovabe world in which we matter. Humans are social. We are not creatures of prey. We do not thrive in hostile environments. We sicken and grow depressed or become angry and violent, or withdraw to another world of fantsy and spiritual escape.

The jobs for which their education prepares them are the short-term ends to which the young must aspire. So what those jobs entail, how they will be accessed, and what kind of distribution system determines who shall have them are crucial to our schools and how we teach, with punishment and constraint, or with nurturance that helps them find the best way to guide them to success and to matter, in their turn, as we have.

The strict father model doesn't cut it. We had it for most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. And look at the state of our education today. We need to rediscover the natural joy of learning and rekindle that with all Americans (of the U.S. and all the other countries that comprise the Americas.)



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