Teach Real, December 31, 2009
My uncle is a Republican. He says he is a Democrat, but then begins defending rich people like they are going to be thrown out of their houses and begin starving any minute now. This is common Republican reasoning—defending people who own most of the wealth instead of defending actual people who have already been kicked out of their homes and are starving as we speak.
Have you seen the recent studies? 50% of Americans now live in poverty. It increasingly seems like we are in a Depression, not a Recession, and like the last Depression, we probably won’t call it that until it is almost over.
Yet as the gap between the rich and the poor continues to expand, something that has been happening since the Reagan Revolution, we find money isn’t trickling down at all. I’m thirty years old, so for my entire life I have been hoping to get trickled on. I have yet to feel a drop.
What we don’t realize is that with the technology we have today, and the cost of obtaining computers, printers, and an internet connection, our poor kids are being left further and further behind. One in five kids doesn’t have enough to eat, let alone wi-fi at their apartment.
But if you listen to the discourse coming from the right, you hear Fox News laughing at our poor, telling us they aren’t really poor. After all, they say, 99% of them have a refrigerator.
And my uncle says things like, “Yeah, but they all have cell phones don’t they?”
Well, to really answer the question. No, they don’t.
Have you ever met a poor person? Seriously. They don’t have s*%t. My students have four outfits they wear to school every week, which means they have to wear one outfit twice. In order to space it out you can bet they wear it Monday and Friday hoping nobody will notice. Our school offers ¾ of our students free breakfast and lunch because their parents can’t afford to feed them. They come to school cold and shivering, and before I ask them “Where’s your sweater?” I have to bite the question off when I remember they don’t own one. Or they’ve worn the one they do have twelve days in a row and are trying to switch it up.
The really broke kids don’t have cell phones. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble, but if you thought they did, you must not be in touch with how 50% of this country now lives.
Let’s move on to technology. These same students couldn’t type up and print a paper if their education depended on it. Actually, in this age of information and internet, their education DOES depend on it. Consequently, they find themselves further and further behind. They don’t have computers, internet, or printers at home. They also don’t have them available here at school. They only have access to the computer lab if their teacher takes them to it. And even when we do we don’t have enough computers for a class of 35.
And even if they had a printer at home, they aren’t going to be able to pay what those motherf*%$#ers charge for ink. Take the printer I have—it is cheaper to just buy a brand new one than fill up the ink. Seriously.
Of course the deeper issue here is that even if every poor kid in this country had a cell phone, why is that bad? With the little money their parents have, they want their kids to do one thing with the rest of the world—KEEP UP.
So as this depression deepens, and the kids who do have cell phones can’t afford to make the payments, and as we continue to pay their parents less and take away their benefits as a shared sacrifice of austerity, our students will fall further and further behind the rest of this technological coporatocracy.
Contrary to popular opinion, all these damn kids don’t have cell phones, computers, printers, or anything. But yes, most of them have refrigerators—those poor bastards.