Kevin Gray

The other day, my fortune cookie read, “Life is never more fun than when you’re the underdog competing against the giants.” How true.

Growing up a Democrat in a Republican household taught me about being the underdog around giants. No matter what the topic, whether Nixon or Vietnam, I didn’t have a chance, since it was two giants (parents) against me, the only child. At school, my teachers certainly came off as the giants.

In high school, I tried to fit in with the preppy crowd, having given it my all with the creased slacks, button-down shirts, V-neck sweaters, and penny loafers. But, even then, my hair was growing down over my collar and ears, something the school’s administration (the giants) found inappropriate.

By junior year, the real Kevin woke up and out came the jeans, Hobie surf T-shirts, flannel shirts and deck shoes/chukka boots. The dress code soon ended thanks to student actions, one student and a lawyer. A classmate, sent home from school – this was 1970 – to get a haircut came back the next day with a shaved head causing true “disruption,” and he was sent home once again. When his lawyer dad stepped in, the giants fell, as did the dress code.

When my parents drove me into Kansas – right by the welcoming Sunflower Kansas sign and the name Governor Robert Docking – on the way to Pitt State, I was a bit confused. Kansas must be alright, I thought, if a Democrat has a chance at the State House. They must’ve all been giants, then.

Having survived college and so many professors (the giants), I became a teacher and went to work for more giants, including a principal and Paola’s BOE. Was I a giant to my students? We teachers negotiated against the giants (lawyers) the BOE brought in to face classroom teachers across a table.

Through the years, I remained in the minority – a Democrat in a Republican state – where legislators knew how to compromise. On occasion, I voted for Republicans, such as Governor Bill Graves in his second run for office.

As a retired teacher, who subs for students in four school districts and writes for this newspaper, I find myself jumping into yet another giants’ moment. But, this one isn’t any fun.

When the Kansas House floated a plan to prevent KPERS recipients from working for KPERS job locations, this pushed my activism button. Can you imagine how many retired teachers, like me, sub in Kansas school districts or who have returned as classroom teachers? All I saw was a mean-spirited effort to participants of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System.

Our new governor has requested a definition for a “suitable education,” which translates into watering down, weakening and not paying for the fine job educators are doing in Kansas for our students. More unnecessary and mean spirited bill writing has been ongoing, designed to hurt working people in the name of saving money!

What’s the plan next January when Topeka, once again, comes up short, and schools prepare for more cuts in funding? When more teachers will be given their walking papers, and we stack students higher and tighter in classrooms across the state? Or close down more buildings?

If you’re really confused about what’s happening in Kansas, look no further than Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and, yes, you’ll find conservative Republican legislators pushing agendas where, as Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich said on the Ed Show, “…they’re not doing what they’re doing because of the deficit, they’re cutting budgets in some areas to give tax dollars to their friends in other areas.”

Wisconsin’s State Rep Cory Mason, a Democrat, said it best, when quoting former state Supreme Court Justice Edward Ryan from an 1873 speech.

“The enterprises of the country are aggregating vast corporate combinations of unexampled capital, boldly marking, not for economic conquest only, but for political power. For the first time in our politics, money is taking the field of organized power. The question will arise, and arise in your day though perhaps not fully in mine: Which shall rule – wealth or man? Which shall lead – money or intellect? Who shall fill public stations – educated and patriotic free men, or the feudal serfs of corporate wealth?”

Call the new leaders in other states, as well as in Topeka, giants? Maybe puppets for corporate giant wannabes out to weaken state governments, unions and all workers in the name of fiscal responsibility by relying on cutting and shifting around budgets – I call it a shell game – and getting nowhere fast!



Short URL: http://osawatominews.com/?p=1046

Posted by admin on Mar 23 2011. Filed under Kevin Gray, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply