MEMO: REAL SKIN IN THE GAME
BY MIKE RAMEY
While watching some sitcom gold recently, I happened across the following story. A man was interested in getting married. His intended bride wasn’t opposed to the idea…but she has one condition: Her beau had to have a steady job. Enter the local milkman on his bill collection run. Future wife asked the milkman if he could get her future husband on at his company.
“Why sure, I’ll be happy to take him back to the plant to meet my boss,” said the milkman. “Of course, my day starts at 5am. You’ll have to meet me at my house at 4:30am so we can be on our way.” The future bridegroom recoiled at the idea of having to be somewhere by 4:30am to get to a job. You see, he wanted a job…but on HIS terms, not the terms that were set before him.
Yep…the wedding was abruptly called off.
Now, I told you that story to tell you this one.
A few years back, I was a probation officer with my county juvenile court. When the wayward teens of my county were brought before the court for crimes (allegedly) committed, all were equal before the bar of justice. Unfortunately, when it came time for the teens to pay their debts to society by probation, detention, or placement in a treatment program, the equality came to a screeching stop.
I’ll be more than happy to tell you why.
The socioeconomic backgrounds, plus the financial resources of the parent(s) made a big difference in the ‘type’ of justice that was dealt from the bench.
The judge would recommend the least restrictive alternative avenue of justice for the offending teen, depending upon how much financial ‘skin’ mother and/or father or guardian put into the treatment plan for the teen. IF parent or guardian would bring in a private-paid attorney, and pay for therapy or drug treatment on their own nickel, the court would likely agree and the teen would go into a treatment program. IF parent or guardian used a public defender, and relied on the court for paying for treatment or therapy and didn’t put any of their financial ‘skin’ in the game, guess who was sized up for cell time? Right. The teen of the family that didn’t have the resources.
HANDS IN OUR POCKETS:
Let’s take my above example and expand it in our current economic depression. Yes, I know that the MSM and politicians and business leaders like to say that we’re coming out our ‘downturn’. However, when you have a good chunk of the workforce underemployed, dropped OFF the unemployment roles, or having NOT had raises for several years (while the politicians and CEOs have been getting their C.O.L.A. increases regularly); then I believe it would be safe to say that we are in a depression.
Recessions don’t go on for years. Depressions do.
Brothers, let’s face it. Far too many people have had their hands in the taxpayer’s pockets and consider ‘our’ money ‘theirs’ for their social programs. Sure, its nice when a corporation ‘donates’ items to a worth cause. The DLS is that it is a tax write-off for the corporation, and a price hike for the consumer somewhere down the road. (Not to mention the fact that the corporation received some big tax breaks to locate their business in a particular state, city, or urban/suburban location).
As I like to say, the rabble has been roused. The rabble being the taxpayers.
As a taxpayer, I pay up by payroll deduction and on April 15th . Nevertheless, our taxes keep going up, and the service that we receive for our tax dollars results in little more than lip service from either political party. Further, when taxpayers want to know what government(s) has done with the money that they have already received, we get the cold shoulder or silence…until the next election cycle.
SOMETHING TRULY FOR THE CHILDREN:
Of course, many of us have seen the fighting between schools, teachers and politicians over budget cuts. This is really playing well in America’s classrooms. Once again, students are getting an eyeful as to how much their teachers really ‘care’ for them.
As a teacher myself–from a family of teachers–let me give you my observations on education reform: Too many of our public and private school teachers DO NOT have ‘skin in the game’ when it comes to quality of education for ALL children…only THEIR children are beneficiaries of the education system.
Amazed? Check THIS out: IF you want to get an idea as to how committed your child’s teacher is to your child’s education, ask them a simple question: “Where do YOUR children attend school?” More times than not, your child’s teacher will be sending his/her children to another school district…a BETTER school district than the one where he/she is teaching your child. THAT should upset the taxpaying public.
THE RAMEY HOME DISTRICT SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT ACT:
How do we change this trend? How can we get union teachers and school districts to be more for ALL our children rather than ONLY THEIR child?
Simple. Everybody needs to put some skin in the education game.
How can this be done? It’s all a matter of each state passing a simple law. ONE piece of legislation. I’ll call it the Ramey Home District School Improvement Act.
How would it work? Well, each state would hold hearings and determine how many school district employees there are, and rank the school districts based upon whatever measure that they would decide. Next, lawmakers would make it mandatory for ALL full-time school district employees–from the Superintendent to the Custodian–to enroll ALL of their school-aged children in the district where they work. Furthermore, any FUTURE full-time school employees would–as a condition of employment–have to do likewise.
The Act would take effect two years after its signed into law. Think of this as an ‘education’ wheel tax. Where your paycheck comes from…your kids will go there also!
Of course, some segments of public education would be exempt…but not many.
Public safety unions–meaning police, fire and EMTs–have skin in the game with their service careers. You can’t get more dedicated to your job than being willing to take a bullet or run into a burning building as a condition of employment.
Those in the education profession need the same level of commitment.
It is high time that teachers unions and school districts realize that the public is ‘hip’ to the money-wasting that is going on in many of our schools under the guise of “…doing it for the children…”. If you want more tax money for your perks, gifts, retreats and training sessions/union meetings, taxpayers want to see you put more of your skin in the education game.
Put your child in the same classroom with mine.
I’ll bet we’ll see so much improvement, we won’t need to quarrel about test scores and fund-raising again…at least not until the next election cycle.
RAMEY, a syndicated columnist and book reviewer, lives in Indianapolis, Indiana. THE RAMEY COMMENTARIES appears on fine websites and gracious blogs around the world. To correspond, email firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2011 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications.