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Pandemic Madness – Education, Unions and Electric Busses – The SASS Report

In local news the Montgomery County Education Association, the teachers union, has adopted a new slogan – I Fucking Hate the Montgomery County Public School System. Proceeds from t-shirt sales will go to their Political Action Committee to elect Board of Education members who agree with this philosophy. The hopes are that future board members will continue to undermine the educational integrity by removing core curriculum and replacing it with courses such as “feelings are more important than facts” and “Being the best Cancel Culture Warrior you can be”

As of February 24 sales were a bit slow, so a Special Education teacher and real estate agent took it upon herself to make sure the t-shirts were properly promoted.

During the pandemic, when this teacher is not attacking her employer or advocating for no return to live instruction, she is taking vacations to Sandals and giving in person tours of homes in her second job as a real estate agent.

Then there’s another teacher at Woods Middle School. She’s hopefully not a science or math teacher from her utter lack of understanding how either work. When she’s not pushing the petition for no return to the classroom for in person instruction, she’s busy looking for an in person gymnastics class for her daughter to attend. Or for a place for her child to have an in person birthday party.

And, finally, while you’re looking relax and get away after a heavy week of protesting a return to live instruction, give this teacher a call. She can tell you all about her recent February trip where she went out, in public, unmasked in Las Vegas.

These, and hundreds more social media posts of teachers, protesting the return to live instruction from vacations, the gym, in-door dining out of state and various other location are flying around social media groups in Montgomery county. Proving that if some people didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have standards at all…

Break

Welcome to the Short Attention Span Summary and on this episode we will be looking at how we got to this education standoff on returning to school, including a look at the legitimate reasons why teachers are anxious about that return. We will also take a look at the electrified school busses and why they could be hot for all the wrong reasons.

To start, where are we with regard to return to school? As of February 26th, dead last. I don’t mean in the state, I mean the entire country. That’s right, Maryland is 50th out of 50 for return to live instruction, and Montgomery County will be the last county in Maryland to return to live instruction. The last, according to this economist article, out of 14,000 school districts. Yea?

How did we end up here? Why can’t we get through the impasse and what will happen in the first few weeks of return?

Parents and families are increasingly suffering under the weight of unemployment, the mental health stress of being confined to home for a year, children having no peer contact, isolation, and lack of appropriate support services. Teachers are parents as well and, in addition to these issues they share are also anxious about an employer with a track record of caring for their employees somewhere south of Fagin in Oliver Twist. Seriously, when the ghost of Sinclair is rising to write a sequel to The Jungle about you as an employer it’s time to re-think your management strategy.

The union, with a track record of leaving teachers in unsafe sick buildings when it’s not in the unions interest and the Board of Education who  couldn’t make a decision if it was a big red button labeled “Push” are not helping the situation either through inaction or misguided strategies designed to make the situation worse.

And despite clear issues that, quite frankly, everyone can get behind – the safety of children and teachers – many voices, including some that are, quite frankly, seriously mentally ill, have seized on the opportunity to push their own agendas, further muddying the waters with chaos and confusion.

For instance, there are those that have decided to couch this as class warfare. The problem is always with folks who are in the upper class who acknowledge that, theoretically, poor people exist, try and champion for them in the most spectacularly bad way possible.  

For instance, what’s wrong with this post? It’s virtue signaling at its finest. How about poor and impoverished need to work to pay rent and bills and by keeping their children at home, they can do neither? This absolutely insensitive twit is not alone.

It’s a well known fact that rich people hate their kids. It’s a fact? No, Stephanie, that’s not a fact. That’s an opinion. And that’s where we are now, not understanding the difference between fact and opinion.

Ricky Gervais

You would think that teachers, of all people, the one’s in front of the classroom everyday would be aware of the difference between fact and opinion. But they aren’t if you review the literally thousands of social media posts. Their emotional appeals are fact and science free.

And they’ve declared active war on the parents of the children who will be sitting in their classrooms. If they didn’t question what was going on in those rooms before from these posts, I sure as hell would be asking some questions now. Is this attitude and belief system, based in what seems to be jealousy and rage, coming through in lessons and interactions with students?

And it’s also good to know that there are Board of Education members touting the line as well. Not because they are correct, but so that there is a record of exactly who stands where on the issues. Because nowhere is there a discussion as to why.

I’ll answer the question for you Patricia. It’s because the poor and impoverished look to leadership for advice and guidance and actually listen, and when teachers, administration and the Board of Education is saying it’s unsafe, they trust what you say. You now using them as the justification for why you shouldn’t go back is the personification of the snake eating it’s own tail.

Worse still is the conflating of opinions, without accuracy, to try and make some class or race point. Here’s a clue – Steve Austins Facebook group, MoCo Neighbors for Local Schools, the one that is challenging the boundary analysis, is the biggest no return group on Facebook. They won’t post anything I do and actually blocked me, and other pro-return folks, from their group because they do not want to return. Congratulations, you are now aligned with your enemy, which sounds damned familiar…

But worst of all are the outright attacks. Yes, I know I do it, but that’s actually my job. At no point should anyone in the conversation be able to say “Wow, the comedian is the most reasonable and well informed, in a conversation involving education professionals.” No, never, that should never happen.

Here’s Sweary Hippy Teacher, or Shit for short, pointing out a sign a child is carrying at a rally. I would like to explain to shit that the child is a product of the public school system where she teaches and, maybe, they need to return to in class instruction?

Here’s shit again demonstrating that she doesn’t understand how things work. Her critical thinking skills are severely lacking from years of indoctrinating children into some weird personal philosophy and not actually teaching things. Police don’t operate in controlled rooms, with small populations, distanced and following rules. Police have to work with violent criminals who actively attack and spit on them. The day you have to wrestle a buck naked student to the ground who is high on pcp and actively trying to bite his own face off, then we can discuss comparing the professions.

Then there’s this fiction. I taught for 7 years as a constructivist teacher and I never stayed up all night. This is just outright fantasy. And if you are staying up all night, you’re just avoiding something you don’t want to deal with and this is your excuse. There are easier ways to tell your spouse you’re not in the mood.

But we’re now embroiled in battle. And there are parents who are teachers who are sick of it as well. From teachers who are currently in the classroom 5 days a week, to teachers with cheeky one liners knowing there’s no comeback to it.

And a war it is, with both sides mudslinging, attacking, and saying the most outrageous things they can think of.

Here’s the issue – the teachers actually have a legitimate point. I’ve tried advocating that point in several videos. We the public really do understand and sympathize with the teachers dilemma. As we will see in the board of education meeting, teachers have a legitimate concern and, much like other significant concerns, if it were made in a calm, rational and inclusive manner we would all get behind it. If the union and teachers approached this as professionals parents would support them.  But they decided to approach this like crazed children, high on candy on Halloween night, with no parental supervision.


The situation is so bad, and has devolved so much, that finding out a male teachers aide exposed himself on camera to his class and began masturbating didn’t even register with the public. That’s how low the teachers union and teachers have brought the dialogue bar. To the point where masturbating in front of children is just par for the course and probably a visual and emotional argument why teachers shouldn’t be in person. I mean, what if he forgot where he was for a moment and accidently started masturbating  at the end of a live class?

So how do we get out of this?

We don’t. Why?

Because it would mean someone would have to admit that they are wrong. And that is not something that happens at all, ever these days. Apologies are an admission and grounds for the cancel culture to move in and destroy you. We don’t accept people are flawed anymore so we are not able to admit our mistakes. And that is a sad statement because only through mistakes can we learn. And the irony is that almost every teacher has that damned poster on the wall of their classroom.

I mentioned three teachers at the start of the program. They screwed up. I don’t bear them any ill will. They set themselves up to be the punchline of a joke. And quite frankly, I can’t remember their names anymore.

Shit I will never forget, though, because how does that leave the brain.

Did they screw up? Maybe. Maybe not, but it shouldn’t haunt them. They shouldn’t have to pay a price, be censored, or have any negative repercussions. We had a laugh at their expense and that is where it should end. They will hopefully learn something, or be proud of who they are and continue to post their lives in public going forward.

But we don’t live in that age anymore.

The teachers and the union have put themselves in the position of having to fight even though they know there are no facts to support their position because they can’t back down.

Confirmation bias kicks in, also known as inductive reasoning, as teachers become more and more desperate to find any opinion to justify a quickly dissolving narrative that has no basis in fact. Anger will also comes as cognitive dissonance rises and the inability to admit fault gnaws from within.

According to Carol Tavris, co-author of the book “Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me). “Cognitive dissonance is what we feel when the self-concept — I’m smart, I’m kind, I’m convinced this belief is true — is threatened by evidence that we did something that wasn’t smart, that we did something that hurt another person, that the belief isn’t true.”

Mediation and negotiation recognize cognitive dissonance as an issue and room has to be made for the other party to be wrong and gracefully back out of an untenable position. But the union and teachers made it public, taking to social media to torch large paths of destruction that cannot be taken back or rescinded. And now after they’ve attacked children and parents, politicized race and class, and made dramatic emotional declarations far and wide, they are waking up like college students following an all night party where the antics seemed like a good idea at the time, but now, in the light of day, look exactly what they are, childish and immature.

Will they have to pay?

Of course not. First, public schools are the only option in town. Second teachers are invulnerable. It takes $65,000 to fire a union teacher. Double that if the issue is not a clear contract violation. So, no, teachers well know there’s no long term impact for their drama and attacks. They’re invulnerable, able to moon you, pull up their pants, and then have their father punch you in the face and make you apologize for seeing their ass. Even the individual caught masturbating on camera will be back…in action…so to speak. 

And here’s the best part –  you won’t do a thing about it but re-elect the same people next year. This will fizzle out and people will be so happy to get the crumbs of starting in person education that by July no one will even remember any of this happened. It’s not even been a year and people are already making weird faces trying to remember what the big brouhaha was last summer. And that involved riots and fires!

Quite frankly, I’ll probably run for Board of Education again in 2022 just to keep reminding people about this.

Speaking of the Board of Education…

Yep, there was another meeting. 6 and ½ hours.

Here are some moments from it.

Your eyes do not deceive you, it was live and in person! Mostly. They needed 3 of the Board members to meet virtually to maintain distance, but they were live! Easier to lead employees by example than tell them to do as I say not as I do.

And then they lost internet connection. Sigh. Well, now they know what it’s like to be a kid on virtual.

It’s time for public commentary, so the MCEA will lead off with the marching orders for the Board of Education. No facts, no substance, just emotional appeals and opinions. Because that’s all they have to work with.

Aye yi yi…If I may make a suggestion…This is a living poster for “those that can’t do, teach.” She’s broken every rule of journalism, did not start with the 5 w’s and went right for the weird and distracting. Now no one will remember anything she said because they’ll still be wondering what the hell she’s was talking about rubbing her face for, and by the time we realize she’s moved on and is trying to make a point, we’ve missed half of it.

She has also reminded every teacher watching that there’s a reason what you do is out of the public eye. Teachers get so used to being weird in classrooms that they lose perspective when dragging it out into public and don’t realize just how bizarre they sound.

Finally, you’ll note she is a journalism teacher, teaching journalism, a writing art with very, very specific rules and structure…but she’s so proud of the weird vocal exercises that’s what she leads with. And those vocal exercises don’t achieve the desired result, as doing them in a group makes kids super tense because, as noted, their weird. Look, I’m a vocal talent, I do voice acting, narration, and whatever you want to call this. I have warm up exercises as recommended by my voice coach who used to tour with Milton Burle. These ain’t them.

Metrics look better. They’ve plummeted. We should be heartened and looking forward to a return to school at the rate they are falling. If only the union and teachers had not dug themselves such a hole…

 So how do we know if someone has covid in school. Testing of course!

They’ll be doing pooled testing, where they’ll test the group, and if there’s a positive, the whole group gets to go back to virtual. You can ignore the “find the positive kid” part because one positive kid in a class will send the whole group home for quarantine. Including the teacher. So the 1/3 of the class that wasn’t exposed can still go to school but will be 100% virtual on their laptops in that classroom.

I for one am glad that we haven’t gone to anal swabs yet. Whew.

And we’ve arrived at one of the main problems with the board of education. They LOVE to hear themselves speak. They don’t ask questions. They just drag the meeting on for over 6 hours.

Next bus schedules. Which leads us to class schedules. And a lot of questions about free time in the morning, afternoon and during the day. For instance with elementary students they have an hour and a half for lunch and unstructured time in the middle of the day.  Then the afternoon there’s another 35 minutes. In reality, out of a 7 hour day, there is only 3 and ½ hours of instruction and 3 ½ hours of standing around and looking cute. I taught elementary and have two kids in the age range. Unstructured time is just an opportunity to break things and get into trouble. Most kids are bored after 5 to 10 minutes. At an hour and 10 minutes, what are they expecting to happen? I’m thinking a recreation of Lord of the Flies.

Middle school is not much better. Out of their 7 hour day, they are spending 4 hours on instruction and 3 hours with time on their hands, imagination at their disposal, and friends to impress.

High School? Same as middle school, 7 hour day, 4 hours of instruction, 3 hours to find trouble before it finds them. But this wasn’t even the worst of it.

Finally Silvestri demonstrated what happens when a board member does the unthinkable. And asks a question. MCPS is utterly unprepared for this occurrence. All hell broke loose.

Thus began an exchange that lasted well over an hour about lunch. Where they would be eaten, how it would be managed, what was the process. Then it slowly dawned on someone that you can’t eat a lunch and wear a mask at the same time. Something that apparently escaped the geniuses at MCPS.

Suddenly, the union and the teachers concerns appear in a different light. One of understanding. When your administration has no plan for how to eat lunch in a 7 hour day, where there are 3 or 4 hours of downtime, teachers no longer sound like unreasonable, complaining angry children and more like employees who are understandably nervous about the return to the work environment.

See, if the MCEA had been rational and reasonable, had pointed out the actual flaws in the plan, worked with the parents and teachers together to come up with an alternative plan, we would all be onboard.

Instead they screamed and yelled like petulant children and now any chance at reasonable understanding and community support is gone along with my energy to put up with the tantruming. You had your opportunity to participate. You threw a fit instead.

And as I’ve pointed out with regard to the state of buildings and risk of health to teachers before, the union does not care about you. This is just a negotiation tactic. Half of you could die tomorrow and they’ll just capitalize on it because you’ll all be replaced and it doesn’t impact the membership the slightest bit.

You’re being used just like the parents in a political game that you have no control over. And no one is brave enough to stand up to it, so you sell your souls piece by piece to try to hold onto some kind of security, while telling yourselves that if you wait it out a bit longer it will get better.

It won’t. You’ll wake up one day, and realize you have nothing left to sell, that you’re an empty shell, they have everything, and you don’t even have your dignity. And they own you.

Finally, as a wrap up note, the county will be getting electric busses. In itself a great idea. My father was a huge advocate for them on Cape Cod as public transportation. Which is why I know a thing or two about them since he would not shut up about it god dad, give it a break!

Ahem.

In full disclosure I have solar power personally on my home, so I am an advocate for the energy source.

That said.

This program demonstrates exactly how screwed up Montgomery County truly is.

We had the opportunity to marry two programs for renewable and low impact energy together, the electric bus program for MCPS and solar power for the county. And the county utterly dropped the ball because they just can’t get out of their own way.

A quick note on regulation and governance.

There’s a reason we have rules and laws. If you’re curious what life would be like without them, look at the history of the Oklahoma Panhandle. If you picture a parking lot at a mall, without rules or structure, where you can do what you want, it’s chaos. At the end of the day, you wouldn’t feel safe for the lack of parking organization or cars racing at whatever speed they like. Your freedom, the ability to enter the mall, doesn’t exist. Lawless chaos does not increase your freedoms, it actively decreases it.

Freedoms require structure, rules and organization. That’s why societies have laws. Parking lines, stop signs, lanes of traffic, actually enhance your freedoms.

But employ too many rules and regulations, and freedoms diminish for attempting to figure out how to act or what is appropriate.

Montgomery County is way past the freedoms limit and well into the restricted area for all the rules and laws. And this recent outing with regard to solar power just shows it.

Where we could have had an individual variance, where we could have had a single exception for one farm, we suddenly had concern from other organizations about how it would be interpreted. You know what you do? Use your corporate counsel to draft a resolution so that it’s clearly a one-time exception  specifically for this purpose and does not, in any way, create a further exception. That’s why you employ the lawyers to being with.

So instead we now have electric busses that will be bleeding 225 kilowats off the existing electrical grid that is run by, you guessed it, fossil fuels. You didn’t save anything, you didn’t, as we are no closer to an efficient battery that doesn’t burn almost as much diesel as it takes to generate the electricity to charge it. It’s a zero-sum game, tha’s actually a loss when you consider the precious metals it takes to make the electric battery and the toxicity of disposing of the battery when it reaches the end of its life.

We would be far better off  with nuclear power, which is now entering the fifth generation and is so freaking clean and efficient its criminal, but nooooo, we can’t do that.

So we have electric busses. And the package includes electric charging. And how do the companies charge electric busses when it’s on their dime?

Yep. Diesel generators.