Last night I watched as the Erie-Mason School Board decided to terminate its custodial staff and outsource the custodial services. It was a gut wrenching experience.
|Erie-Mason School District|
Mason Senior High School, Erie, Michigan
The school board felt that it had to accept a proposal that would save the school district an estimated $222,408.10. I don’t believe that any of the school board members wanted to terminate the custodians or to outsource the custodial services, but they did it anyway.
Board members took solace in whatever rationalization they could. One board member pointed out how they had assurances from the new service provider that the custodians currently employed by the school would be considered for reemployment.
Not every board member was able to rationalize the decision and one board member shared with those present how he had been unable to sleep the previous night and then he submitted his resignation.
For their part, the custodians put forward the usual arguments against so-called privatization, “the service provider is from out of state”, “they will hire convicted felons and child-molesters”, “there is money in the budget that isn’t being counted”, “administration is overpaid and needs to take a big pay cut first”, etc.
The custodians who work at this school have roots in the community and they really do the hard work of maintaining and cleaning the school for far less money than is merited; they should be getting a pay raise instead of being terminated. And the superintendent is probably overpaid with a salary in excess of $171k plus perks and should probably be getting a pay cut instead of a pay raise. When it comes to cutting the budget, it always seems that the bottom is the place where the cutting starts.
Did I mention the problem with humans?
The problem is that each human in the drama is looking out for themselves and seeing their role in the service they without looking the larger picture of public service. Each human is looking at a human near them and thinking, “That’s the human that does understand how valuable the service I provide is and is trying to rob me of my livelihood.” Each human thinks that another human in the room needs to be the human that takes a pay cut or loose their job so that the school doors can stay open.
The problem with humans is that they are human and their human universe is small and concrete; it is composed of people whose faces and names are known to them. The farther away from them the other humans are, the less thought is given to them as the probable source of the problem or the solution.
The board member who resigned asked the audience how many of them had gone to
Lansing to tell their
legislators that needed
more money. It was the only moment in the entire three hours that anyone in the
room gave any attention the actual cause of their problem or the actual
solution to it. Erie-Mason
|Dale Zorn (R-Ida)|
Your Representative in Lansing
(aka "the problem")
In stead of asking who it was on the board, in management or on the support staff that was right or wrong or needed to get a pay cut or loose their jobs, they should have been asking themselves who in Lansing needed to get the boot!
Did I mention that humans have problems?
Yes, there where at least fifty very upset people in that room last night and this morning every one of them should be looking at Lansing and seeing just how red Lansing has become with Republicans running the House, the Senate and the in the Governor’s office. These fifty people should be the most motivated political activists in
Township and they should all be
joining the Democratic Party this morning and committing themselves to making Lansing very blue in
But they are humans and they will probably get up this morning and worry about how they are going to pay the bills with less or no income. Some of them lost another nights sleep and they will be looking for ways to justify their decision that ruined the lives of five faithful custodians who where already underpaid.
And then they will move on and find ways to cope without actually having fixed the problem because the problem is too big and too far away. But it will be back before they know it and someone else will be loosing their job or taking a pay cut and it will start all over again.
That’s the problem with humans.