A Week of Learning for the Professor

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Good Saturday afternoon,

For those who are wondering about this graphic or picture, I think by the end of the post you will understand it more, but I offer this graphic shout out to all who walked, picketed, shouted, or offered support to the cause of higher education this past week. Since my last post, life has been a whirl-wind of events, requirements, obligations and emotions. As I begin to write this I have been working on my courses because of some required revision and an obligation to following through on what is required because of the events of this past week. When I posted the last time, we were forty-eight hours from the first possible faculty strike in the 30+ year history of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE); it is now about a week later, the weekend following my Monday post and on the other side of a forty-eight+ hour strike where the 5,500 faculty left their classes to stand up for the quality of education we so strive to maintain in our classrooms. Monday and Tuesday were sort of a blur as I prepared for what turned out to be the inevitable. I spent more time preparing and grading so that if Wednesday turned out as it did, I was prepared and I had done as much for my students as possible. Because there had never been a strike, most of the questions asked from others, or even my own self-pondering, were/was answered by the simple three word phrase my mother so detested if she asked questions, “I don’t know.” There was no template; there was no recipe card; and there were too many variables over which I had no control.

So Tuesday night I spent the last hours in my office tidying up, much like what you do before you go on vacation so you come home to a clean house. I also did the things I could to make sure that someone could not come in an easily take over my classes. I made sure to not do anything that would have gone against the admonishments and warnings from our provost. I went into my office one last time about 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning to make sure that I had everything I needed for about 10 days. Again, because I had neither an inkling nor an idea what to expect. I was up by 3:30  and I was nervous. Even though I had a better idea than many what was in place, as a member of both the Public Relations Committee and the Mobilization Committee, I still had little idea what to expect in terms of support on the campus or from the students. We had some indication of wide-spread support because the strike authorization vote that was above 93%, but it is one thing to vote, it is another thing to walk out and have no paycheck and no health insurance. We had also created a strike/picket line sign up with more than 2,000 slots to fill and they were all filled. These things seem to bode well for the chance of wide-spread support among colleagues, but there were other constituencies to consider, the most important being students and their parents. Would they realize our actions were about more than us wanting a raise or no change in our health insurance? The jury was still out on that one. There was the other audience for which there little doubt there would be no convincing or “winning,” if I can use that term, the local 30-second crowd. There is a long history of disenchantment between some of the local people and those “elitists” on the hill (that is the actual term that is regularly used). There is a bit of irony when largest employer of the county brings about 11.00 back into the community for every 1.00 earned. Bloomsburg would not really be much of the only town in Pennsylvania without those of us who work for the university, but also live within the community.

I experienced this disenchantment when a local member of the community named Rob referred to me as an “over-educated asshole” the morning the strike was to begin. When I let him know I was one of those educated assholes who would be striking, he told me “to get the fuck away from him.” Sorry if you are offended by this language, but I am merely repeating the exact quality of his discourse. Long-story-short of our communicative interaction was I did not back down and he got a bit exasperated. I must admit I was also, but I could manage it a bit better than he. What was interesting was Thursday, the following morning, I had breakfast at the diner and Jessica, the owner, asked if I had been involved in a verbal altercation at Dunkin’ Donut the previous morning early. I was stunned. She told me a local came in and noted that someone got in his face when he started smarting off. I should note that the owner and I spoke a second time and he, Bad Hombre, did admit that I spoke passionately, but not crudely. She said she knew it had to be me. What I learned in that moment was simple: there was more of my father in me than I might have realized. I had never stood up so vehemently for the union cause in my life. I had never found myself in a place to stand up for principle and be confronted by such an inappropriately-stated-disdain for what I am so passionate (my teaching). This “somewhat” closed-minded person not only had little idea what I do daily or weekly, he stated in his profanity-laced foolishness that he did not give a shit. Ultimately, it was the tone, his attempt to bully me, and his blatant disrespect that created such a comeback from me, one that not even I expected. I was reminded of what my older brother once told me about the laid-back man I knew as my father. He said on the job or when it was about his union membership, we was a very different person. I guess I have that piece in me also.

Wednesday was an astounding day. As we arrived at Carver Hall to begin picketing that first morning by 5:30 a.m., we were greeted by about 20 students, including two students from my Foundations course, Sam and Eric, to whom I offer this shout-out for coming out so early to support us. I walked at three of the 5 locations that first day and walked from 5:30 in the morning until about noon and then from 2:30-6:00 p.m. The entire day was a bit surreal because of the amazing support we received from so many people. To say that I am gratified and humbled by our amazing students does not come close to what I am feeling within me even today as I am trying to find some sense of normalcy. There were students, signs, bull-horns, chants, a band, drums, the campus radio station, honking horns, music, and a sense of camaraderie that I have never felt on the campus, and perhaps not in my entire life. Throughout that day there were so many people in front of Carver Hall and the energy was infectious.  Thursday I was asked to come in early again, but this time to take a post at the construction site on campus. Four of us stood under the ominous clouds waiting to see what would happen. The foreman for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and for the United Brotherhood of Operating Engineers took the time to speak with us and ask questions about our reason for striking. By 9:00 a.m. that morning pretty much all unionized trades unions had pulled their workers off the site. What a wonderful demonstration of support and union solidarity for us. As I noted in my last posting, my father was correct about the importance of union brothers and sisters standing together. I saw it in action and I hope you are proud of the stance we took this past week, Dad. Thursday was a long day,  but again between colleagues, phenomenal student support and knowing that 13 other universities were also standing strong, we soldiered on whatever the circumstance might be. Throughout the day more pizza, donuts, sandwiches and coffee continued to flow in reminding us of the support that was present for us. Wednesday’s student band and Thursday’s choir and the deaf students on campus, who were told they did not have the right to signing or an interpreter by Disability Services on campus because they had not given 24 hour notice, when they themselves were not given 24 hour notice of the hastily organized meetings on Wednesday by administration, were out in force and their collective voices were deafening. It was fabulous and we are grateful to the local news station, WBRE, for covering their story. By Friday we knew there was more rain coming, but it did nothing to deter our resolve to stand once again. I should note that Kristin Baver, the local reporter for the Press Enterprise, worked tirelessly to cover the changing story from early morning until we ended our picketing around 6:00 or so in the evening. Also on Thursday, more construction workers left the job, and now, in retrospect, there was more going on behind the scenes than we realized. Mid-morning Friday, a group of Bloomsburg students and a couple of faculty boarded a school bus for the Dixon Center in Harrisburg. We were met by colleagues from Shippensburg and Millersville as well as the amazing APSCUF staff. Bloomsburg students wer3e undeterred by the rain and they were outside the Dixon Center chanting loudly and continuously for their education. Once the rain opened with torrents, they went inside and requested an audience with Chancellor Brogan, himself. What they found out was there were two attorney’s ahead of them. Again, in retrospect, it appears, particularly because of what a student overheard, these attorneys were from the State System’s negotiating team and the end was in sight. There are a number of student to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude for their unswerving support. I was fortunate to get to know one in particular who took the time to drive around early in the morning in her little bug to deliver sustenance and a smile. She is small, but mighty. It might be easy to under-estimate her because she is a bit shy, but she is passionate and keenly aware of what is just and right. She also understands why it is so. She knows who she is and I am blessed to know her. As we returned to Bloom from Harrisburg, she spoke about returning on Monday in a business suit to meet with the Chancellor in person. She realized that rhetorically she needed to be taken seriously. Not your typical student. She reminds me of another student who has become such an important part of my life since returning from Poland last year. She sat with me today as I finished this blog. She is a phenomenal student and brilliant young person also. We returned to Bloom and arrived about an hour before we would hear that we had a new tentative contract. There is so much I could say about the three days more descriptively, but what I learned is solidarity and being honest about what matters makes a difference. I learned that standing in solidarity for something bigger than one’s self  matters and makes a difference. I learned once again that people who think about and believe in the value of education, both professors and students, can make a positive difference in the face of what seems to be pretty daunting odds. I learned that some things take more time than I wish they did and that a Governor’s support makes an unbelievable difference. To my former colleagues in Wisconsin, it is such a difference. Indeed, the professor learned a great deal this week. I need to give a shout out also to the wonderful owners and family of the Bloomsburg Diner. They have been more supportive than words will ever explain. I am honored to call the entire family, friends. Thanks John, Jessica, Amara, Luke, Ariel, and Lexi.

Today is the 23rd of October, so I actually am working on this for a second day. In 1988, on this day, and it was a Sunday, I was ordained as a Lutheran pastor at my little Lutheran Church in Sioux City Iowa. At that time, I believed I would spend the rest of my life as a parish pastor, and perhaps eventually a professor in a seminary. Well one of the two plans came to be, sort of. I did not expect to be a writing professor or the director of a digital rhetoric and professional writing program. There is an irony in location also because that first parish was in Lehighton, Pennsylvania, only about and hour and 20 minutes away. When I left the state in 1992 I did not believe I would ever come back. It is now the place I have lived the longest since I graduated from high school. That day, after my ordination service, I was so overwhelmed by what had just happened to me that I had to lie down and sleep. It seems like more than a lifetime ago that all of that happened. That twenty-eight years seems a century ago. I was so much more idealistic then. I believed so much more in the goodness of people. I believed that when one was helped or provided help, people were grateful and would respond in kind. While I am still a giver, I know all too well that people will take advantage of your graciousness. That has been a difficult lesson, but the professor continues to learn. As the day continues, I have a number of things to accomplish, but it is manageable. I sit and write with a sense of gratitude for what has been accomplished and for all the people who made a difference this past week and even, yes, in the past 28 years since I was in a different role.

It is back to work and thanks as always for reading.

Dr. Martin
Present Professor and Former Pastor
Proud Faculty Member of Bloomsburg University
Proud Member of APSCUF

Honoring my Father

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Hello after a day in Harrisburg,

While the state capitol of Pennsylvania is certainly different than most capitol cities I have wandered around, I enjoy it as the political junkie I am and because of the faculty union of which I am proud to be a member. It has been a sort of change for me because, in spite of growing up in a union family ~my father was a strong and adamant supporter of the union movement in the United States and a member of @IBEW231, I understood the reasons for labor unions, but I had a relatively benign attitude. There were times when I struggled to understand his commitment to this labor movement. I remember while in high school, there was a pretty violent strike in my town between the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Iowa Beef Processors (IBP) packing plant, which was the largest beef meat packing plant in the country at the time. This included brick throwing, fire bombing and other serious harassment. I remember asking him why supporting the union and standing up was such an important thing. He was passionate about those who would have crossed a picket line. I had never really witnessed an angry tone, but it was clearly there in what he had to say at that time.

What I know now, some 43 years later was that he had a reason to stand up for the fairness and appropriateness of a contract and what it meant to be treated with equity and fairness. While I certainly understand that there are two sides to every argument, and there are certainly two positions from which to begin when viewing this argument about our teaching contract (or perhaps there are five -the state system, who desire to be known as the SS, the faculty, including both permanent and adjunct, the students, including current, future, and former, parents of said students, and tax payers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania). I am sort of stunned by some of what is happening, but that is because I still believe in logic and the collective good will of people. This is no longer unfettered idealism, but the simple believe that when people sit and speak appropriately and respectfully, things can be accomplished. However, I guess you need to begin from a place where there is some logic for that to happen. When I look at all of the pieces of our current labor situation, there are certainly some illogical pieces. This is why my father was so unwavering about the need for union protection. When management has power, the purse strings, and sees everything in terms of the bottom-line, there is an unequitable situation from the outset. I have been accused of having a problem with authority in the past, and those of you who have read this blog know that has been a statement that I have noted more than once. However, as I have continued to age, what I realize is that I have a problem with the abuse of power. This is what is happening in our current situation, that abuse and what seems to be an unwillingness to negotiate in good faith, as is easily argued. Today as I sit and write this, we are actually 10 days from going on strike and there have been no negotiation for the last 10 days, and none currently scheduled for at least four more. Yet administrators have received their yearly raises. All of this is while the faculty have worked for almost 16 months without a current contract. The state system negotiating team has refused to come to the table during the last 10 days. Yet we have a Chancellor who is willing to readily take his $8,000.00+ raise, and when asked by students about that raise this past week, standing face-to-face with these students, had little he could provide in response, but in a FB live meeting with students claims to be working diligently to avoid a strike.

This is the same Chancellor who has done work within the Florida system to create a business model of education. On the surface it seems to be a good plan, but when little is done to promote faculty leadership or support advancement in building that enhances life in the classroom, there is an issue. He is a 5th grade teacher who, from all the research I have done, has done little or no teaching since he became an administrator and has never been in the college classroom as an actual professor. Yet, he seems to be able to understand what it means to be a college professor. The foolishness of such a possibility is unconscionable. It is stunning to me that he can in good conscious argue some of the things he has about our work or our classrooms. Again, I understand the need to be fiscally responsible, but for him to fail to ask the state legislature for any additional money, especially when we were gutted by the previous administration, is beyond wrong. I did not know that I could be so passionate about all  of this, but I am infuriated by the smugness with which he faced us this past week. There as so much more I wanted to say, but I wanted to be appropriate and professional as I stood in front of the Board of Governors, the Chancellor, the University Presidents, and my own provost. I will say that I have a significant amount of respect for those offices, and in the case of my two administrators, in spite of being turned down for sabbatical this past week, I still believe in their integrity. I know that some of my colleagues will shake their heads by my stating this, but I will try to stand up and yet be respectful. I would like to believe that is age and a sense of growing wisdom. I will say that the sabbatical rejection was a bit of a shock and a sort of kick in the teeth, but there are certainly worse things. To the President’s credit, he has asked me to sit up and appointment with him, and, for that, I am grateful. . . .

It is a week later and I am just getting back to this I had not saved it on my tablet and I did not want to begin again. I am in Jim Thorpe and grading, which I have been doing for about the last 5-6 hours, but I need to let the other computer charge a bit, so I am back to the blog, and, as is usually the case, that might be a good think to clear my head out before I get to the next task. I should note that we are now four days from a strike and there is little progress in our negotiations. I should also note  that both sides have declared a moratorium on commenting about the effectiveness or where they are in the process as of later today. This was because there was little accomplished in yesterday’s negotiations, and in the 16 day hiatus since the last bargaining, the state merely returned with the same offer we had turned down. I will leave up to you as a reader to ascertain what such a move might indicate. I will admit that I am concerned in ways I have never been because of the ominous tone of a system and their seeming total disregard for students. I cannot imagine how the very university president, of whom I spoke appreciatively, can be a major player in this position. If it is merely because he does not need to worry about the consequences because he is going to retire, I would be deeply disappointed.

This past week it seems that every day brings out something in our political landscape that can only create more disillusionment and a pondering that is summed up by the acronym of “what the French toast?” I have said more than once this past week that it causes me embarrassment to be an American. I find myself agreeing with people on both sides of the aisle at time. However as I noted in a Facebook posting earlier this today, yesterday, or I have no clue as it seems that everything is crashing in at once.  The New York Times has some amazing columnists and op/ed writers. Their ability to get to the core of a situation and say some of the things most are thinking, but seem incapable of verbalizing, or writing, astounds me. In two different pieces today, For my colleagues, friends, former students, and present students who struggle with Hillary Clinton, I can understand some of that struggle, but the issue is more complex than you might know without some serious consideration. Amy Chozick has an outstanding piece in today’s NYT laying out some of this as well as any piece I have read. In another article, Ezra Klein, writing for Vox, does a fantastic job of asking what the consequences of ignoring the stories about Donald Trump say about us as a nation. I should note that both pieces are implicated related and worth your consideration. If you have an Apply phone you can find them easily on your news feed.

This coming week it will be difficult for a number of reasons. There is the issue of a potential labor action and what the consequence of actually having that a reality does to all involved. Yet, there is a time to stand up, this is what my father told me back in high school when I questioned the labor situation as noted in the early part of this post. There is standing up for something more important than myself. This past week I had the opportunity to sit down with someone I have taken to task more than once in this blog. I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. James Sachetti at the Fog and Flame. He agreed to an invitation to have coffee and I must say that my understanding and perception of him has been wrong. That is not to say that we do not see some important things in the same way, but my conversation and interaction with him was completely cordial and enjoyable. He was attentive to what I shared and willing to share his viewpoint and his background. I walked away from that hour-plus conversation with a  respect and appreciation that has been before missing. While I will not agree with everything he might write, nor will he with me, I can say that I respect and appreciate his position in ways I would not have imagined before our meeting. I am grateful that he took the time. It is another place where I believe I have made my father proud. He often said, “Speak to the person rather than about them.” He, as usual, was (and continues to be) correct. On another front, I will be standing up for myself in a manner that is hard for me. I am generally a giving and generous person, but too many have taken advantage of that generosity. It is time for me to stand up and ask them to be accountable. That is difficult, but it needs to be done.

As we move toward Wednesday, I am uncertain of what will occur. As we move toward an election, I am unsure of what will occur, and even when we have spoken at the ballot box, I am unsure what will happen. We have become a nation of whiners, of selfish and self-centered idiots. We fail to think critically and analyze thoroughly. We are content to allow others to think for us. The consequence has been devastating. Those with money and power have taken over our country and the average person seems powerless to make a difference. We have abdicated our responsibility because of our unwillingness to think. We have allowed those like the recently retired CEO of Wells Fargo to make decisions that affect so many of the common folk while they line their own pockets. This is just one example of how the powerful screw the other 99%. In spite of my background as a former Lutheran pastor, I am more universalist than some might find comfortable, but there is something to be said for respecting others and living a tolerant lifestyle. I do not think this is a far reach from the Biblical words that admonish us to love God with our heart and soul and mind and our neighbors as ourselves. And on that note, I think there is enough to ponder for this posting. If you are reading this or found it because of a tag or handle, please share it to those who stand up for quality education in this Commonwealth.

To all who take the time to read my thoughts, please know I am grateful. Thank you, Dad, for teaching me so well.

Your grateful son,

Michael

 

 

 

Wondering how . . . 

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Hello on a Sunday evening where I am working to organize my jumbled thoughts (life, existence, viewpoints or),

I can only try to begin comprehending he array of thoughts, concerns, and yes, perhaps, degree of fear that might overwhelm me unless I take some time to think about it and compose some of those thoughts in this blog. I am a bit shocked because, certainly within my memory, for the first time in my life I might be more pessimistic than optimistic. Lydia would be shocked (or maybe happy that she had converted me from the optimistic she seemed to have such disdain for upon occasion). When she would ask me, “Michael, how are you”(In her Austrian accent)? I would generally answer, “No complaints.” Her retort would be, “That’s disgusting! You are too happy!” I told her that I was brought into her life to balance out that cynicism. She would scowl and hit me. I miss that give and take to this day. I wonder what she would think about Donald? I am sure she would have opinions. Just when I think I cannot be further amazed by the unpredictability of this election year, a week like this one in the immediate past occurs and I know that certainly truth (or whatever you want to call it) is stranger than fiction. Between the United States Congress wanting to blame President Obama for not explaining the consequences of their own bill to them, to the revelation that Donald Trump claimed to lose almost a $1,000,000,000.00 (that is one billion) in a year. How can you lose that much money and still claim to be an astute business person? From the fallout of the debates and 3:00 a.m. Twitter rants to the misogynistic comments that seem to just keep coming from both the candidate and his surrogates, I can only wonder how??

As I write this blog, it is now the 2nd of October and the potential for a strike among the 5,500 faculty in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is relatively high. I should note that the administration of PASSHE has asked that they no longer be referred to as PASSHE, but they want to be known as the State System. What might taking the word “Education” out of your title signify? Should we be concerned? I think so.  One might have to agree that with the way they have gone about negotiations referring to them as the SS might be apropos. I have written a significant editorial in The Voice, the student paper, this past week. While it is similar to what I have written before, but it is specifically pointed toward students and parents. If you would like to read it, please go to http://buvoice.com. As you are considering what is penned, here are some other facts to consider: Pennsylvania, in spite of having a 14 university system as well as Penn State, Temple and Pitt, three other universities who also receive state appropriations, ranks 47th in the country in terms of how much money they spend on higher education. Yes, you read that correctly: 47th. In addition, for students or parents who continuously seem to pay more, I would also note that Penn State, Temple and Pitt, as three schools, receive an amount approximately equal to the appropriatation as the 14 state schools who are PASSHE counterparts. And yet . . .  our esteemed leader, the former Lt. Governor to Jeb Bush, Chancellor Frank Brogan asked for no additional money during almost 6 hours of hearings before the State Senate Budget Committee. That unfortunate lack seemed to also be present when asked about the faculty might claim to represent. After being asked how much we worked, he had to ask his supporting staff at those hearings. Then when told he had to add the 5 hours of office hours he was asked if we only worked 17 hours a week for our six figure salary (which is also inaccurate and something the local paper loves to use), he did nothing to dispel such a ridiculous notion. That is in spite of the fact that each faculty member is required to send in a report each semester telling the State Legislature how much we work. Does all of this sound absurd to you? It should, but that is the current atmosphere of negotiations with our State System (SS). While they want to impose a number of significant changes to how we would be allowed to teach in our classrooms, they seem to have little sense of the consequences of those requests. They want the unfettered ability  to move me from department to department and location to location at will. Hmmmm? How is that going to work for a chemistry or a math student as I try to exlain carbon bonding or reverse functions? If you think that sounds ludicrous, the President of Bloomsburg University already tried to put an Anthropology faculty person in the Math, Computer Science and Statistics Department this fall. It did not actually come to pass because, at least currently, we can reject such a move, but even the attempt is beyond egregious. Note the word “unfettered” earlier. That does not allow for rejection in the future. Again, I am left to wonder how we got to this point? 

As I have spoken ito groups of students or other, it is apparent that many parents, many towns peopl, and even our own students, have little real understanding of what is at stake. The changes in teaching proposed by the SS will gut the credibility of a PASSHE degree. It will leave students under-prepared and left to wonder why they are caught between the proverbial “rock and hard spot” in their future positions or why they are under-compensated in spite the significant invest of  (approximate for in-state, but substantively more for the out-of-state) 100K they spent on their degree. They have been cheated. They have been stolen from by a bunch of bureaucrats and legislators who somehow believe that higher education is not worth investing in. That credit by tuition keeps them from “lingering in the smorgasbord of classes” to closely paraphrase Chancellor Brogan (March 2016) . What the hell are they thinking? This coming Thursday, I will be in front of the Board of Governors of the System arguing they need to rethink how they are handling this negotiation.we are 16 days from striking and they have refused offers to meet this coming week. 

While my main objections have to do with what they are doing to my classroom, the passion of my argument is also related to what they have done to us financially. I do need to be honest about that piece, but I also want to explain why. In the 8 years (and I am in my eighth year) I have been teaching in the system I have lost 4 steps. That affects my yearly salary; it affects my pension; it affects my morale. Again, I am trying to be as genuine as I can about that. My health insurance is certainly an amazing plan, and I know that. However, we have, like every other part of the country had to give things back (our co-pays increased by 100% in the last contract and our raises were 0, 1,1, and 2 percent), and we will again. I know this. Yet, the other state unions were not asked to give back what they are asking of us. They did not have deductibles added to their plans to my knowledge. They were offered a 7 1/2 percent raise over 4 years with 3 steps included. We were offered that raise only if we will willing to give 70 million dollars in cuts back from the outset. So the 159 million figure the state provided a week ago is a bald faced lie. Otherwise we were offered a total of 1% over four years with one step in the final year of the contract. Again, I am willing to pay more to a degree, and, as noted, I know it is coming, but the people who are asking us to swallow all of this got 3% raises this past year. As a specific example, I appreciate Dr. Soltz, our president. Furthermore, I do not begrudge him his salary, but his raises over the past three years equal about 23%. Or as another example, the governor of the State of Pennsylvania makes $187,000 a year (which I think ranks in the upper third of top state executives) and he does not even take his salary because he has done well as a business person. The Chancellor makes almost $346,000.000 after his over $8,000.00 raise this year. I am pretty sure he was more than willing to take that raise as he has negotiated against us. Again, I do not begrudge what people make, but do not ask me to give up so much when you, yourself, are unwilling to do so. It is about fairness; it is about being equitable. It is an abuse of power to do what they are doing, but then again, such an unfathomable example of this greed can be found in the standard bearer of the Republican party. He brags that he is too smart to pay taxes and then claims that companies that go abroad to do the same are slime balls. As the day has proceeded, the news continues to reveal how he uses the tax code in ways the average person cannot, but then he claims to be on our side? Would he be willing to help the little person do what he does? Does anyone see a disconnect here? He claims that he can be nastier than Secretary Clinton because she has used his own words against him? For the first time in my memory (contrary to things like the Swift Boat issue or even George W Bush’s service record, where people went digging on both sides), no digging is needed to demonstrate the risible reality of the @realDonaldTrump. I am completely stunned as I consider the depth to which we have fallen as a society. Again, I am left to wonder how?

This past week, fortunately, and probably to Lydia.s chagrin, I have been reminded of something a bit more positive. It is related to Congress, but focusing on the President. What I have continued to realize about President Obama is that is perhaps the most principled president i have experienced in my life. As a small person, one from the 50s and 60s, I might have believed that person to be President Kennedy, but what we have learned since about his personal life is more problematic than former President Clinton. I will say that while I appreciate President Clinton’s acumen and ability to make complex political issues understandable, I do not appreciate the digressions that created such problems for his time in office. Yet, other presidencies also seemed to have some significant human struggle. President Ford had family issues in the White House: President Nixon had to resign. Some of the children of former presidents certainly have had issues. The Obamas have had more scrutiny that perhaps any presidency in history, merely because of the social media atmosphere of our present world, but scandal has not been cluttering our headlines; they are an amazing family. Their daughters have grown up in the spotlight, but they are elegant and poised from what I can see. Michele Obama would be an amazing president in her own right. She is articulate, brilliant and also principled. As a first family, I believe they have set the “gold standard” of what we should expect from the occupants of the White House. I am still stunned at the Congress and the degree of obstructionism and racism that permeates both our legislators and the American public. I say this as the White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant male. This morning, I was in the diner for breakfast and heard about a situation where the youngest daughter of the owners stood up for her older sister when her sibling was being mistreated. She said to the rude guest or customer, or just plain dumbass, “That is my sister and you cannot disrespect her.” Good for you Lexi!! Where did we lose what seems to be all sense of decorum necessary for any society to survive? Where did we become such a society of Malcontents? What I know is that I am willing to treat others with the respect I would hope to deserve myself. What I have finally learned to do is to stick up for myself. I have learned what many have told me for so long . . . . if you not do it, nobody else will. It is so true.

So to whomever might read this, as the days are ticking down and a Chancellor is more content to spin on Facebook than negotiate,  I am hoping is that students will stand up for what is fair. If they do not, what is coming will be hurtful for everyone. If you are reading this and a student, CALL THE CHANCELLOR. If you are reading this and a student, CALL YOUR PARENTS with the real facts. If you are a student or an alumnus of the PASSHE system realize the consequence of these proposals and what they do to the value of the degree you already have. This is not  what happens to those still studying, it affects the entire system, the state, and the alumni. Speak out loud and strong. Tell the SS, as they want to be called, to change course and be fair and equitable in what they are doing to your classrooms. I will not back down. I will stand up for the integrity of what I do and the education I believe my students deserve.

Thanks for reading.

Dr. Martin

@realDonaldTrump, @POTUS, @FLOTUS, @BloomsburgAPSCUF, @APSCUF,