Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Supporting John Kerry

Posted by shannonclark on October 29, 2004

Presidential?Enblogments?2004 :

An experiment in “enblogment” – inspired by Larry Lessig and set up by David Winer.

I am an independent, but this election I will be voting for only the second time in my life for a major party candidate – for John Kerry. While I disagree with many of the Democratic base (specifically Unions in general but especially public sector unions and the teachers union whom I find in general serve a negative role. More on this follows) this year in particular I am very strongly in favor of many of John Kerry’s positions (especially a number of them which are in keeping with Hope Street Group positions. As well I am very strongly against nearly all aspects of George Bush’s policies – from how his administration has mismanaged the war in Iraq and anti-terrorism in general to domestic policies that reward the very very rich, penalize the poor, further divide the country, and seek to put one specific group’s religious views enshrined into the Constitution itself.

Unions. My problem with unions, and especially the teachers union but also public sector unions, is that they serve as a very significent negative force on innovation, change, or achievement in areas of education and government which I think are the very areas where change and innovation are desperately needed.

In the 7th grade I had the major misfortune of having a teacher who was completely unqualified to teach, but who had his “choice” of classes because it was the school’s local union representative. As a result I spent literally a year of school during which I did not learn anything in that class. Now as a kid I was always quite advanced, so my natural desire for learning and a great high school made up in part for his lack of skill and qualification, but I felt strongly then and still do that union contracts that reward only senority and perhaps to a lesser degree education (but generally only education in “education”) are a major factor in the difference between public and private school education.

(Though I had bad teachers at the Catholic elementary school I attended prior to going to public junior high, so bad teachers will be everywhere).

In contrast, my high school was non-union. The teachers negotiated a very generous contract, but were not unionized. As a result I had a multiple teachers with PhD’s, in the subjects they were teaching! They were attracted to my high school, which was a public high school, because it paid well, provided good resources, and had a large and good student body. Most of my teachers had a masters degree specifically in the field they were teaching, many of the teachers had been at that school for decades. It should be noted that while my high school was in a near suburb of Chicago, it was also highly diverse – ethnically and financially – to a degree rarely found anywhere in the US. (we actually had a speaker at graduation who noted that the “real” world would unlikely be as diverse as we had experienced in high school)

Anyway, that is one of my issues with the Democratic base. But irregardless, I am strongly supporting John Kerry and encourage you who are reading this to get out and vote on Nov 2nd. Also, if you are in one of the many states with constitutional ammendments or resolutions againsts gay rights I encourage you as well to vote against denying rights to one group of Americans on the basis of sexual preference.


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