Will school reform industry leaders bite the invisible hand that feeds them?

Low wage workers are sometimes parents:

As Mother’s Day approached, Charlene Fletcher, mother of two, found herself occupied with the needs of other families, attending to the crush of shoppers last week at the Walmart in Duarte, Calif., where she works.
Like many employees at Walmart, the largest private employer in the United States, Fletcher is required to work whenever the company needs her, which almost always means spending weekends and holidays at the store.
Yet even as she makes available most of her working hours, she earns so little that she has to rely on government assistance to feed her kids. Relying on help from the government is “embarrassing,” she said. “Nobody should have to do that, especially with what Walmart makes.”
According to a recent report by the Working Poor Families Project, nearly one-third of all working families in the United States earn what the report defines as a low income
“We know that these are people who are serious about work,” he said. “They bring all the significant cultural habits and norms that we care about, and despite that, are still earning so little that they qualify as poor.”
Fletcher said she expected Mother’s Day at the store to be stressful. Since she joined Walmart, she said, the store has cut staff and leaned on the remaining employees to fill in the gaps. Fletcher operates the phones, relaying calls between customers, managers, and workers, and said she often has trouble getting employees on the line. “They can barely maintain their departments, let alone answer a phone call,” she said.

But this is for the children:

The Waltons have long supported efforts to privatize education through the Walton Family Foundation as well as individual political donations to local candidates. Since 2005, the Waltons have given more than $1 billion to organizations and candidates who support privatization. They’ve channeled the funds to the pro-charter and pro-voucher Milton Friedman Foundation for Education Choice, Michelle Rhee’s pro-privatization and high-stakes testing organization Students First, and the pro-voucher Alliance for School Choice, where Walton family member Carrie Walton Penner sits on the board.
Many studies show that parents’ incomes are the best predictor of students’ academic performance, which results in a wide “achievement gap” between affluent and low-income students. Walmart contributes to this gap. It is not only the nation’s largest private employer, with well over one million employees, but it also has the largest number of poverty-level jobs in the country. If the Waltons, who still own half of Walmart, really wanted to do something to help improve schools, they could start by paying their employees a living wage.

Wal Mart wouldn’t even have to pay employees more to improve the lives of parents and other employees, although they should do that, too. They could simply give their employees predictable schedules. The biggest complaint I hear from parents who are low-wage workers here is that they can’t schedule anything. They can’t commit to doing any regular activity with their kids or keep their kids on a schedule, because their low wage employer demands they remain essentially “on call” with a chaotic Just In Time schedule that varies week-to-week or month-to-month. That’s an absolutely ridiculous demand for an employer to make when that employer is paying wages so low workers qualify for food stamps. They’re being paid peanuts for the time they’re at work, and the low wage employer controls their time off and family life, too, with the shifting schedule. Low wages PLUS the time demands made on the executive-professional class. All the stress of a high income job but none of the pay. How did that happen?

The Wal Mart heirs are huge players in the school reform industry and everyone who has a pulse will admit that parents are a huge factor in any child’s educational success. When do the reform industry players like Gates and Rhee and Klein and Arne Duncan, people who are so very concerned about our children, pressure Wal Mart on how Wal Mart treats their employees? The reformers all insist they’re not Right wing ideological zealots and it’s purely coincidental that their goals always, always line up with their hard Right donors. If that’s true, why does their advocacy for children begin and end at union busting, lowering wages, replacing middle-aged, middle-class teachers with temps, and privatizing public schools?

Kids aren’t dropped from the sky ready for another fun day of standardized test prep, and they don’t disappear off the face of the earth once it’s “pencils down.” They live in actual communities, with their parents. I bet those test scores would go right up if millions of parents who work for low wage employers got better working conditions and a raise.

Reformers like to claim they’re innovators. Let’s try this reform idea. Too bold? Too risky?

68 replies
  1. 1
    Violet says:

    They’ve taken the word “reform” and turned it into something that means what they want it to mean.

  2. 2
    Kay says:

    @Violet:

    I hate the word now. Ugh. “Entitlement reform.” They use it for everything.

  3. 3
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Yes, the best reason for raising the minimum wage, and tying it to inflation: It will reduce the number of people dependent on government services. Add in required healthcare coverage, and we’d be on the right track.

  4. 4
    c u n d gulag says:

    This is all a matter of corporations conditioning employees to be sheeple – happy to take any crumbs given them, whenever they’re given them, however they’re given them, wherever they’re given them, and by whomever they’re given – and be grateful to the crumb-givers.

    This is about total psychological domination of workers. Turning them into de facto indentured servants, if not wage slaves.

    And, in this new high-tech world, and instant communications, workers know that if they lose their jobs for not being “team players,” then, they may never get another one, because they’ll be black-listed.

    It is unconscionable.
    But that never stops greedy sociopaths, who have no conscience to begin with.

  5. 5
    The Moar You Know says:

    The word “reform” is rapidly becoming a threat on a par with “I’m going to drag you into this alley and rape and murder you”.

  6. 6
    eric says:

    If low wage workers dont like it, then make higher wages. Problem solved.

  7. 7
    mai naem says:

    Well, who’s going to provide Wallymart with cheap desperate for work labor if they don’t have kids who can’t reach their potential?

    I went to Walmart(got something that I could not find anywhere in town) over the weekend. The first time I’ve been in their in over a decade and a half. The Waltons are evil mofos. I may have this wrong but I believe Warren Buffet’s partner in BH Charlie Munger’s kids are big supporters of education reform. I know I sound like a recording here but give people a living wage where they can spend time with their kids and provide their kids with educational/rec opportunities and provide up to date school buildings, you won’t need this education reform.

  8. 8
    Kay says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    For “innovators” they have the most boring vocabulary. It’s just such a horrible word salad. There’s an actual charter chain in Florida called “High School of Excellence”. I can’t even parody them anymore. They now incorporate the 17 words they mix ‘n match into the school names.

  9. 9
    Violet says:

    @Kay: I hate the word “entitlement” because it has that “entitled” connotation. I know people are entitled to benefits because they paid into Social Security (or whatever), but the word entitlement makes it sound like they’re entitled jerks for wanting it. Needs a reframing.

    Just like “pro-life” makes anyone else sound like pro-murder or something. Call that movement what it is: forced birth.

    As for the Waltons–Sam Walton was okay, but his kids are a bunch of assholes.

  10. 10
    Trollhattan says:

    Barely related (H/T LGM).

    A man who police said had a second job as an “armed security officer” was being investigated after he accidentally shot a student Rangeview High School in Aurora, Colorado on Monday.

    According to KMGH-TV, a school employee who also has a second job as a security officer had offered a student a ride home at the end of the day. The gun discharged, hitting the student in the leg, when the school employee tried to secure his weapon in the glove box of the car.

    The man took the student to a nearby hospital, where he was rushed into surgery with a “significant injury,” police said. The injuries were not expected to be fatal.

    It was not immediately clear what type of work the man did for the school, but police said that he was not a teacher.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/201.....ra-school/

    Can anybody help me understand what “Common core state standards” are? Gov Jerry is making a billion-dollar push for them today in his revised budget. I haven’t seen Michelle Rhee sniffing around, but didn’t know whether she might have her fingerprints on this initiative. I also wonder how much Walton money she might be harvesting.

  11. 11
    Violet says:

    @Trollhattan: Not sure, but they have a website: http://www.corestandards.org/

  12. 12
    PeakVT says:

    Let’s try this reform idea. Too bold? Too risky?

    Not enough opportunities for grifting.

  13. 13
    Bulworth says:

    If the Waltons, who still own half of Walmart, really wanted to do something to help improve schools, they could start by paying their employees a living wage.

    Nah, anything but that. Freedom. //

  14. 14
    Kay says:

    @Trollhattan:

    Yeah. It’s a Duncan initiative that 45 states adopted. They’re basic guidelines to what would be a “Common Core” curriculum. They come along with “assessments” (standardized tests).
    There’s pushback. Five of the states who adopted them are backing out, because they’re expensive. Teachers have to be trained and the testing is extensive. It’ll be twice as long in Ohio, for example. It’s also online, which is a huge investment for rural districts.
    I think most of the pushback is understandable, because parents weren’t brought in at all. Obviously I dislike Duncan’s management style. I think he’s both arrogant and clueless. There was virtually no public debate before they were adopted, and (IMO) no rational, reality-based assessment of what it was going to cost already-strapped schools. I don’t object the standards. I object to the lack of debate and the money we don’t have for one more educational experiment.

  15. 15
    Roger Moore says:

    They’re being paid peanuts for the time they’re at work, and the low wage employer controls their time off and family life, too, with the shifting schedule.

    Feature, not bug. The whole point of being a MOTU is to be able to control other people’s lives. The money is just a bonus.

  16. 16
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Violet:

    I hate the word “entitlement” because it has that “entitled” connotation. I know people are entitled to benefits because they paid into Social Security (or whatever), but the word entitlement makes it sound like they’re entitled jerks for wanting it. Needs a reframing.

    Part of the problem is that the original “entitled jerks” referred to people who felt they deserved things they had not, in fact, earned.

    Of course, conservatives managed to turn that around and make sure it referred to people who wanted to receive the things they actually had earned.

  17. 17
    El Caganer says:

    The Waltons have been into this for a long time. The first nonprofit I worked for, back in the mid-90s, got a grant from them to help plan a charter school.

  18. 18
    Roger Moore says:

    Also, not really relevant to the discussion, but the Duarte WalMart is very close to my work and coincidentally right next door to Media for Christ, who were involved in shooting The Innocence of Muslims. Small world.

  19. 19
    sb says:

    When do the reform industry players like Gates and Rhee and Klein and Arne Duncan, people who are so very concerned about our children, pressure Wal Mart on how Wal Mart treats their employees?

    Just guessing but I’m thinking some time in the afterlife or the twelfth of never, whichever comes first.

  20. 20
    Trollhattan says:

    @Violet:
    @Kay:
    Thank you. Am just a parent so only see the sausage, never the sausage-making. These initiatives eventually make waves at my kid’s school, but it’s usually impossible to figure out where the wave came from.

    I’ll note the recession sure obliterated California’s “20 kids per class, max” initiative, and not for the better.

  21. 21
    jl says:

    I like posts like this, where we commmters can help out.

    Ans.: No, they won’t.

    You are welcome, Kay.

  22. 22
    Kay says:

    @Trollhattan:

    I’m also sick of the hard sell. They are selling the Common Core with fear. It’s a “national security issue”. No one will ever get a job AGAIN. The Chinese are coming!

    I think it’s patronizing and manipulative. Just fucking tell us what they are and maybe we’ll buy it. I can really live without the slick marketing. I think that marketing doesn’t belong in K-12 public education.

  23. 23
    Dave says:

    God, Kay, you’re just an incredible, incisive writer. You really should have a gig at some more prominent outlet.

  24. 24

    They could simply give their employees predictable schedules.

    YES yes and a thousand times yes. Thanks for pointing this out. Anyone doing any kind of work on behalf of the working poor knows this. It’s one of the many millions of things the fucking privileged class has no clue about. They’re all like, “so you’re on welfare and need to get a drug test, big effing deal,” but when your work schedule is so fucking crazy you can’t even make it into the clinic it IS a big fucking deal. Or how about, “just come in for that parent teacher conference.” So much easier said than done. Or even trying to get a second job when you can’t depend on a reliable work schedule for one or both of them … good luck!!

    Walk a mile, people. Walk a mile …

  25. 25

    Let me add, a good friend of mine ran into this crazy scheduling crap at Home Depot, where he was forced to work after he got let go at the record company where he’d worked for 30 years. It was a “merger” and “elmination of redundancy,” but when you’re 60 years old, where the fuck are you going to go??

  26. 26
    melchie scott says:

    The “always on call” requirement is one of the most destructive and insidious policies of our corporate overlords. It amounts to robbery. When professionals are on retainer, their compensation reflects the fact that they’re expected to be available as needed. The same fee structure needs to be applied for all workers expected to be on call during their off-work hours. If employers want control of our time off the job, they should be required to pay for the privilege and the cost should be high enough to discourage the practice.

  27. 27
    Sad_Dem says:

    @Violet: “They’ve taken the word ‘reform’ and turned it into something that means what they want it to mean.” Maybe one of them actually opened a history book and saw how Henry VIII “reformed” the church.

  28. 28
    srv says:

    Milton Friedman Foundation for Education Choice

    Hey, Uncle Milty gave them the “Freedom to Choose” and they chose wrong.

    Although I was at Versailles last week, the French chose right. Americans are nowhere near as smart.

  29. 29
    Hungry Joe says:

    Odd, isn’t it, how “school reform” and charter schools downplay the importance of class size, yet ritzy private schools always have — in fact, brag about — small classes? (“Our student-to-teacher ratio is 15 to 1!”) Guess which schools the reformers and their henchmen send their kids to.

  30. 30
    JustMe says:

    @Kay: I’ve always observed that if you have to put something like “Excellent” or “Achievement” in the same, you probably aren’t going to find it there.

  31. 31
    R-Jud says:

    They live in actual communities, with their parents. I bet those test scores would go right up if millions of parents who work for low wage employers got better working conditions and a raise.

    Yes. And classroom behavior problems would probably drop, too, because more parents would have time and energy to actually parent their kids. During my brief career as a teacher, the kids with the worst behavior problems were often the children of perfectly decent people who had two or three crappy retail jobs. The parents who were better paid and less-stressed– postal workers, airport staff, etc.– generally had kids who were better adjusted.

  32. 32
    Gretchen says:

    Keep on this, Kay. This is one of the biggest issues of our time.

  33. 33
    The Moar You Know says:

    I’ll note the recession sure obliterated California’s “20 kids per class, max” initiative, and not for the better.

    @Trollhattan: Last year the admin tried to stick my wife with 70 students in a class.

    70. Not a misprint or a joke. 70.

    She made a not-so-joking comment about the fire marshal and the next day the class was cut to 55.

    Looks like the average class size at her school this year will be 40.

  34. 34
    Jennifer says:

    Common Core comes from the same place every other initiative comes from: the publishing industry. Every 5 years or so, a new version of “this is the way to teach and what must be taught” is rolled out to make sure the books keep selling. That’s pretty much it, in a nutshell. It’s no more nefarious than what has been going on for the past 25 years or so.

    RE: WalMart: I was pleased to see Bill Maher quote a statistic that I don’t think enough people know about in his monologue last Friday. It’s this: the six heirs to the WalMart fortune are worth more than the bottom 130 million Americans (that’s 42% of the population). There’s no question here of having “earned” it because they inheirited it. There’s also no question of it being a reward for productivity, because there’s no fucking way that these 6 people contribute more economically to the country than 130 million others.

    But it won’t stop as long as the sheeple continue to believe that they’re getting a great deal at WalMart. They aren’t. I had to go into one of their “neighborhood markets” the other day for the sole reason that laundry detergent manufacturers are hell bent on making everyone pay more to get liquid detergent that doesn’t clean as well. First they phased out Cheer Free powder altogether, so I switched to all free & clear (I refuse to let a detergent manufacturer dictate what I’m going to smell like). I was getting my detergent at USA Drug; then Walgreen’s bought them out and of course, Walgreen’s does not stock my detergent. In fact, no one does, other than WalMart. This was my first foray into a WalMart store in over a decade, so I did some looking around. Result? Everything I checked was priced, at most, only $.05 less than at my local Kroger. Kroger is clean, it’s close, and it’s not an evil empire in the same way WalMart is (evil in its own way, I’m sure). The closest actual WalMart to my home is a 20 minute drive; if I went and bought 50 items – which is way more than I would ever buy in one trip – my “savings” would ring up to about $2.50, which is what I would spend on gasoline to get to and from their dirty, overcrowded, miserable store.

    The solution to breaking WalMart is to stop shopping with them. I hate that I had to go there for this one item, but I couldn’t even find it to order online without ridiculous shipping charges. Still, what this means is WalMart has only siphoned off about $8 out of my total income for the past 12 years. Compare with some folks, a full 25% of whose income is going to WalMart every time they go to buy groceries, clothing, or other household items. And they aren’t “saving” really anything by shopping there; they’re merely contributing to the enslavement of their fellow citizens, etc.

    The second part of the solution is harder, but it’s the only thing that will really change anything: there needs to be a nationwide strike of every employee who earns less than $10 an hour. Then we’d see who is really a “maker” and who is a “taker.” Imagine all the stores being closed, everywhere, for a week or two. All the smug GOP voters not being able to fill up the tank because the low-wage gas station attendents are on strike. No groceries, because the checkers and baggers are on strike. Can’t go get fast food instead, because their employees are all on strike. And so on and so forth. People don’t think about how much they rely on these so-called “takers” to get through each and every day, and they never will until they’re forced to. Unless they are, things are just going to keep on going the way they’ve been going for the past umpteen years, as more and more of us have been pressed into wage slavery.

  35. 35
    Trollhattan says:

    @The Moar You Know:
    Dear god, 70? I suppose that works if your lesson plan reads: “By the end of the term, all kids will recite the Koran from memory.”

  36. 36
    Gex says:

    Hey, guess who just found out she might have cervical cancer?

    FML.

  37. 37
    satby says:

    @R-Jud: Agree R-Jud, both as a struggling single parent working those multiple crap jobs and who had hellion boys and as a school volunteer. Most kids who act out are just desperate for an adult to pay attention to them, and sometimes to intervene and save the child from his own impulses.

    I’ll never forget the 7 am call from one principal as I was rushing to my day job (as an hourly worker) who called to complain that my son had forgotten his homework again. She told me that “if I was as concerned about my children as I was about my career” they would act better.
    A woman who made at least 4x what I did at the time (20K) and probably knew it. At a time when I worked 2 jobs.

  38. 38
    Jose Arcadio Buendía says:

    Common core also is a way for some states to evade NCLB (good!)

  39. 39
    hitchhiker says:

    Never been in Walmart, never wil be. They’re opening a new store in the Seattle burbs where I live, right next door to a Target that’s been there for about 30 years.

    Also, second whoever said upthread that Kay just be doing this for a much wider audience than us bj pikers. She’s really fkng good.

    And finally, I left teaching after 12 years about 12 years ago. High school math. I was in the private system b/c I only had a math degree and a masters in curriculum development — no certificate and no way to get one without paying for a year of education training that I didn’t need. Ironically, I was also teaching at the local community college – same subject matter as the public high school teachers, and sometimes to public high school students who were enrolled in this thing called Running Start that let them take credits at the college that met both AA degree and high school graduation requirements.

    Anyway . . . if I had a magic wand I’d make the whole state of WA become a test case for the methods used in Finland. Abolish standardized tests, pay teachers professional wages, allow and encourage them to innovate, and above all begin with the premise that every single kid deserves the same quality of teaching, the same access to materials, and the same learning environment. They didn’t start out trying to achieve the highest test scores in the world, they started out trying to make sure all the kids in the country got the same kind of education.

    Now they have not only the highest test scores, they have the smallest gap between low and high. That should be the goal — or else we’re just admitting that we don’t really care about equal opportunity.

  40. 40
    dcdl says:

    I know more parents would volunteer at my kid’s school, but for crazy schedules of their work and the school crazy schedules.

    My kids are almost in school full time and so I have been trying to figure out if I want to go back to school and get another degree or just get a job. At this moment I figured the best option is to do childcare at home. With low wages and the crazy schedule at school, week off at Thanksgiving, 2 weeks at Christmas, week off for Spring Break, Summer Break, Early Release Days, no school days on a lot of Mondays and some Fridays, I can’t afford daycare.

    As I’m finding out I’m not having any trouble finding kids to watch. I can be very selective if I want. A lot of parents need daycare for their kids. If I wanted a reliable income I can do subsidized care and subsidized food. There are tons of people who need subsidized care for their children since their wages are so crappy. There is also an increasing need for overnight care for children.

  41. 41
    The Moar You Know says:

    I’ll never forget the 7 am call from one principal as I was rushing to my day job (as an hourly worker) who called to complain that my son had forgotten his homework again. She told me that “if I was as concerned about my children as I was about my career” they would act better.
    A woman who made at least 4x what I did at the time (20K) and probably knew it. At a time when I worked 2 jobs.

    @satby: Shitty comment…but given the usual parent these days, an understandable one. I can assure you that the principal didn’t know shit about your economic circumstances. Principals and teachers usually don’t unless they are so egregious as to require the involvement of social services or police.

  42. 42
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    because their low wage employer demands they remain essentially “on call” with a chaotic Just In Time schedule that varies week-to-week or month-to-month

    Aka the human equivalent of the Seligman and Maier learned helplessness experiments. If you can’t bring some structure to your working life, you’re going to end up treating it as the way things are.

  43. 43
    prufrock says:

    @The Moar You Know: Jesus! I know that education in Florida has its problems, but class size isn’t one of them. The limits are set in stone in the state constitution (for once a voter referendum was useful).

    A couple of elections ago, Jeb! tried to get a repeal amendment passed. No dice.

  44. 44
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    @Violet:

    They’ve taken the word “reform” and turned it into something that means what they want it to mean.

    Ditto the term “common sense.”

    If they refer to something as “common-sense reform,” then you know it is just the worst.

  45. 45
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Gex: :-( Hang in there. Best of luck with the follow-ups.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  46. 46
    Mr. Longform says:

    When I get elected president, I am making Kay Secretary of Education. Just so you know

  47. 47
    satby says:

    @Gex: {{Gex}} sorry to hear that! Hope it’s a false alarm.

  48. 48
    Suzanne says:

    @Gex: hugs and my thoughts and love.

  49. 49
    Walmart Lady says:

    Hi:

    I don’t comment much, because my writing is atrocious, and even though I have three years of college behind me, the writing in active voice thing eludes me.

    I work at Wal-mart as a Customer Service Associate, and I can vouch for this post. It is now impossible at my store to schedule anything for a private life. At Wal-mart we fill out what’s called availability forms, that show the days/hours we are available to work. Most people schedule what is called open availability, 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, because if they do not, they are told they are not guaranteed hours. Hours are very important, just the typical after holiday hours cut where we go from our typical 35 hours per week, to 28 hours is a financial hardship for most us, especially since all of us hourly workers live from paycheck to paycheck. In March, Wal-mart told us all that full-time is now considered 33 hours a week, which they spun as “now we can get more people on our health plan”. In reality, it was to drop the full-time people down to only having to guarantee 33 hours and that is not per week, that’s an average of 33 hours per six week period. So, last week, i worked 28 hours, this week, I will work a full 36 hours.

    Now, these past two weeks, all of us have been pulled into meetings and told that if we want hours, we must change our availability to open. So, students that had days off for school, let’s say Tuesdays and Thursdays, now have to open those days up or risk getting hours cut. I closed down my availability to get two days off a week, Sundays/Mondays, and now if i want my full-time, and at my age, crucial benefits I will need to open up my availability to ensure I get the 33 hours to be considered full-time.

    In addition, any new hires going forward must agree to have open availability, as well being on call at all times. They can also be let go at any point wal-mart says they aren’t needed.

    It’s depressing, and the thing is, no one in the community cares, last Thanksgiving I got thanked by two women for not scheduling a walkout and I quote, “ruining our holiday”. No thought to my holiday at all. I am sure if I said, yes, because my holiday doesn’t matter at all” they would have been offended, reported me, and said, “well, no one chooses to work at Wal-mart do they?” Never mind the fact that in this small town, the options aren’t there. Even our teachers are working part-time at this Wal-mart.

  50. 50
    kerFuFFler says:

    It curdles my custard that WE, the tax payers, are subsidizing Walmart! Even feudal lords had to “pay” their serfs enough to keep body and soul together so they could reap the rewards of their work. Walmart underpays all their workers and then the government has to provide food stamps and health benefits.

    If Walmart is smart, they’ll not put pitchforks on sale.

  51. 51
    Trollhattan says:

    @Walmart Lady:

    Holy crap, you just made every bad job I’ve ever had (a lengthy tally) sound like a perverse sort of paradise. Only this reality is multiplied by the hundreds of thousands, I imagine.

    Thanks for popping your head up to post, which I hope you’re doing from the library.

  52. 52
    Tokyokie says:

    @Violet: The old man was no great shakes, either, seeing as his business plan was predicated on destroying the mercantile sectors of small towns by crushing them with monopolistic market power. But his greedy, evil, useless children have added the element of achieving low prices via slave labor and subpoverty wages. If Walmart wants to control employees’ time off, then the Walton’s can bloody well pay them for those stolen hours.

  53. 53
    cckids says:

    @Southern Beale: Yes, not to mention that a significant number of them take public transportation to & from work, even in places like Las Vegas, where it kind of sucks. My daughter works at a movie theater & at least 50% of the workers take the bus. It adds 1.5-2 hours each way to their daily commute.

    Until you’ve been there, you have no idea how much time & effort living while poor takes.

  54. 54
    cckids says:

    @Gex: So sorry, hope it turns out to be a false alarm. Or early catch at worst. Sending loving thoughts your way.

  55. 55
    RSR says:

    >>[If they] really wanted to do something to help improve schools,

    hahahahaha.

  56. 56
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    “Since she joined Walmart, she said, the store has cut staff and leaned on the remaining employees to fill in the gaps.”

    I have family that works at Kroger affiliates and the conditions are the same there. One such issue is their cutting cashiers (and their pay differential) and training every employee in the store to be an on-demand cashier without the pay differential. Plus those same employees are still required to get their jobs done in their respective departments. Restocking shelves has been replaced by ‘facing’, moving what goods that are on the shelf forward. “Recovery”, the cleaning and organizing of the goods on the shelves are done by everyone (all are assigned 5-7 minutes a day to do a bit of it) because their food department is understaffed.

    Their insurance sucks so bad that the employees frequently have fundraisers to raise a little money from the other underpaid employees to help an unfortunate employee who needs to use that shitty insurance and needs help to pay what it won’t.

    Every time the big wigs come into town to inspect the store, they have to clean everything up and make it look like a dream store. When they tell me that the big wigs are coming to town they call the cleanup and other bullshit “The Grand Illusion”.

    Gotta keep those salaried head office people impressed, ya kno!

  57. 57
    Walmart Lady says:

    @Tokyokie:
    No, I live with someone, internet is cheap split down the middle, most of the time. Some days though, that 20 dollars seems like a waste.

    Here’s what is going on with me. I am a full-time employee I went for a physical, using wal-mart’s insurance benefit. The doctor ran some standard tests, and I have a high blood pressure diagnosis. I just got the bill today. I owe the hospital, even with middle of the road Wal-mart insurance, $540 dollars.

    Two. We are having the legacy grass-roots Associate Opinion Survey. AOS. This involves 20 minutes of listening how great Wal-mart is, how much our store and Wal-mart does for the community. The big selling point in our store? We hit our Myshare bonus every quarter, the one where staff is paid a profit sharing bonus. We super-maxed three times, and are heading for our 4th. That’s an extra $300 every three months, but not guarenteed based on store preformance. I almost raised my hand after our chipper store manager said, “what other company pays people part of the profits so that can make a difference in people’s lives?” I almost stood up and said, “Shouldn’t the question be why won’t one of the world’s richest companies pay us a living wage, eliminating the need for such bonuses?” I didn’t. I did however resent the manipulative “rah, rah Wal-mart” and then have to immediately sit down to take a survey where we are to rate the company. So everyone who has genuine concerns about Wal-mart as a company, just now feels really badly marking ‘strongly disapprove of Wal-mart” . It’s the number one reason why the AOS survey results come out so well, and their PR Hacks at the home office do don’t need to do any spinning of numbers.

  58. 58
    Scamp Dog says:

    @Gex: Ouch! Hoping for the best for you.

  59. 59
    Jebediah says:

    All these pet comments have me wanting to link to a picture of the three amigos on their first walk together, but the wireless here at work is crappitating so badly I can’t upload to flickr.
    So instead I will say that I was watching Dobie Gillis at five am in the morning this morning and Warren Beatty was playing a Dobie-nemesis.

  60. 60
    Jebediah says:

    @Gex:

    Fuck. Fingers crossed for “nope, false alarm.”

  61. 61
    Jebediah says:

    Ok, here and here are the three pups on their first walk together. Taken with my wife’s phone, so no Tim F. quality photography here…

  62. 62
    gelfling545 says:

    @R-Jud: You made me think of a young man in my 7th grade class & the long conversation I got to have with his (crying) mother on the school steps before the building was open because she couldn’t get to the school any other time. She was working 18 hours a day as a health care aide. Her dilemma was that she new that her son was getting into trouble & needed more supervision but he also needed asthma medication that Medicaid would not cover (the only one that worked for him without serious side effects). Her elderly mother was getting senile, her sister had 4 little kids & there was a protection order against her ex husband so no family help was available. She was on the very edge of a breakdown. We were able to help her a (very) little since someone from the middle school team was after school most days & could see him off down the street well after his partners in crime had left the area for the day. That wouldn’t be possible everyplace. I’d like to say he turned out ok but I have no idea what happened to him after he left us. I never saw his name on the news anyway. The problems with education do not start in the schools. They start in the community and corporations that think they’re doing someone a favor by paying them poorly for their labor are very much at the root of it.

  63. 63
    gelfling545 says:

    @dcdl: Just wanted to let you know that a lot of teachers hate “spring” break (Right in the middle of prime teaching time!) Half days are awful. They are mostly a wasted day because the kids’ minds are already out the door. The school year schedule seems to be set for the benefit of …nobody I can think of, actually.

  64. 64
    gelfling545 says:

    @gelfling545: I don’t know where the K went on knew (not new)!

  65. 65
    gene108 says:

    @Walmart Lady:

    The doctor ran some standard tests, and I have a high blood pressure diagnosis. I just got the bill today. I owe the hospital, even with middle of the road Wal-mart insurance, $540 dollars.

    Check with you insurance provider/doctor, if the bill is correct.

    My understanding is that under Obamacare preventive services can be covered 100% by the insurance provider, if the doctor lists it as preventive services to the insurance company.

    This may not apply uniformly with some plans that are “grandfathered”, but if your plan made any changes since March 23, 2010, it shouldn’t get consideration under the grandfathered provisions.

    Link for more info

  66. 66
    Jebediah says:

    @gelfling545:

    18 hours a day, and let me guess, not exactly getting rich. This kind of story is what makes me mental about “conservatives” – they give working class people grief about not living up to “Leave it to beaver” fantasies of Dad working 9 to 5 and Mom staying at home and then actively support policies that impoverish working people so that even two incomes aren’t enough to have a decent life.
    It’s infuriating. A partial cure is getting money out of politics, but money’s grip on politics is so tight I don’t see how we get there.

  67. 67
    Jebediah says:

    @Jebediah:
    sorry all, This was supposed to go in open thread.

  68. 68
    mclaren says:

    I don’t think you understand the true function of standardized tests in privatized schools, Kay. The real purpose of these so-called “reform” is to provide a fig leaf of pseudo-numerical justification for explaining why the middle class is disappearing.

    In reality the middle is disappearing because American elites have decided to grab all the cash and leave nothing for anyone else. But that’s an dissatisfying political narrative. So another narrative has to be constructed. The new narrative says that the middle class is disappearing because most Americans are stupid and lazy, and our rotten test scores prove it.

    In order to insure rotten test scores, privatize the schools, loot them, and then subject the kids to ruthless standardized tests. Voila! Instant “proof” that American kids are worthless and stupid. See? That’s why we have to outsource all America’s middle-class jobs overseas. Those industrious smart hard-working kids in India and China are go-getters, that’s why American multinational corporations can’t hire our lazy greedy stupid American workers.

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