When I taught for Los Angeles Unified School District there seemed to always be plenty of money , but the School District was always in financial trouble . There was money for what they needed , but not for what you needed . That was the general rule I came to understand .
At one time the Superintendent rode around in a chauffeured limousine . Well , the chauffeur was a LAUSD cop , and the limousine wasn’t quite what Paris Hilton would choose , but at the same time the classrooms were always short of supplies ; teachers fought to keep their pay from being cut, and the Super being was riding around like a potentate . Same old drill . Actually , I don’t think that he actually rode around much ; but , his royal chariot was , nevertheless , ready and waiting .
When it got into the evening news that the Superintendent was riding around in style , no problem , the District had to backpedal a bit for public consumption , and so they cut the limo and the driver . Poor bugger Super had to drive himself to work and back again . But he had to drive around visiting schools and do LAUSD work at the same time , the District honchos had explained , and that was why he needed the driver . And the driver , a cop , was more of a bodyguard , anyway , they said .
Yeah . Right .
What made it to the public eye got addressed , though , so as they , those upper echelon flunkies , fought tooth and nail to keep teacher pay low , the Superintendent’s driver went back to police work . Teachers talked about the Superintendent’s high pay , too . Maybe keep it as some multiple of a teacher’s pay . Well , the honchos explained , he wasn’t getting nearly as much as executives in private industry . Poor bugger was underpaid . How you gonna attract the best people to the job if you don’t inflate the pay and benefits ? That nice logic they never applied to teacher pay , I noticed . Slick irony unrecognized in the ivory towers .
But , I’m getting off track here . I wanted to talk about generals’ job perks . Came out in the L.A. Times a couple of days ago . Photo of a mansion in Coral Somethings , Florida . Coral Gables ? Maybe that was the place . The generals have maids and housekeepers and free rent , too . Paid by the government . Paid by us .
I was looking at the photo of the general’s house . Not such a big deal . I say , he probably earned it , doing his general stuff , protecting the country from terrorists and communists and insurgents and whistle blowers . Planning strategies for the next wars , improving battle techniques . Maybe there won’t be any battles at some point , as it seems to be going ; just drone strikes . The general , though , will have to be there to give public rationalizations during news conferences , excuses if needed , apologies if required . He’ll have to testify in front of Congress .
And pilots . The military doesn’t have enough fighter pilots . Sign up and we ( taxpayers ) will give you $ 225,000 as a signing bonus . Buy a house somewhere . Buy an expensive car . Take a pre military -time cruise . Buy your girl or boy friend a diamond necklass . Think of something .
I was talking all of this important stuff over with my ninety-two year old neighbor , Don . Don is a WWII vet . He was a navy medical officer floating around in the Pacific at the same time that my father was a navy medical officer floating around in the Pacific off the coast of places like Guadalcanal . ” We got too many generals , ” Don says . ” They got nothing to do but strut around acting like big shots .” He might be right . What do I know ?
Meanwhile , Detroit declares bankruptcy . Stockton , California did it , too , not too long ago . Can’t pay the bills , just like a lot of Americans these days .
When the schools paid easily for new pet projects and programs , but had no money for textbooks , or for routine maintenance on the school site , I’d wonder where all the money for this stupid program or that new building came from . A friend of mine explained , ” Different pockets . The money’s in different pockets . ” He was a teacher union guy at the time , and he meant simply : They got money for what they want , but not for what you want .
We got money in this country for what they want , too , but not for Detroit or Stockton , or ………or…………