Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Super F-in Tuesday


So while the world awaits to see which idiot fascist moron goes further in the Republican bid to capture the White House in November, we've been dealt a knock-out of our own right here at home.

Today the Dutch Parliament voted to uphold the Education Minister's budget cuts of 300 million Euros from special education despite the protest and strike which took place today (and a smaller one in January) attended by teachers and parents to protest and fight for our kids.  What this means is that the budget for special education in 2013 will be reduced from 3.7 billion Euros to 3.4 billion Euros.  6,000 teachers, assistant and other educational specialists will lose their jobs between now and then and like the protest has been saying that means bigger classes, less time for students and less chances for kids in the special education system.

Now I am not even going to (much) get into the fact that I do think that the special education unions, the organizers of the protest followed a day-late-dollar-short program for their protests and that a media campaign targeted over a longer period of time could have had a more profound influence than than an 11th hour strike haphazardly put together.  Even Maya's school, they told the parents about the strike and the protest last week and asked us to go but didn't even organize so much as a meeting place and a few months ago they had a meeting with parents about the proposed budget cuts and what it means for our kids.  But there was no letter writing campaign, no adverts on mainstream media no picketing the government and when I pushed at this meeting in November for what more we parents could do and suggested some ideas, I was thanked but told that the unions were taking care of it and that we would hear about it.  So even though I was willing at a grass roots level to do more and maybe others were too, they just don't know how to organize a grass roots campaign.  I was one of those 50,000 people protesting today even though I knew we were arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, I still attended, I felt I owed that to my daughter to fight in whatever lame ass way possible.

Although the event was covered on all Dutch mainstream media today I only saw one or two cameras and reporters attending the protest itself.  That in and of itself told me it was too little, too late.

And I get, the government has to make cuts in order to keep the Dutch economy healthy in these troubled times.  And every proposed cut affects real people needing real services and there is no good place to cut.  But what pisses me off supremely is that they pick the most vulnerable people in society, those with the softest voices who need the services the most.  And in the end it will just cost more.  Less teachers and personnel mean less individual attention, something critical for a lot of kids, including Maya to succeed and further develop.  Less attention means the greater likelihood of Maya not being able to realize her full potential and the greater chances that as an adult she will not be able to support herself and be independent without government help.

But as always I try to put the bigger picture out of my mind and focus on the here and now.

What it means for Maya is that after the next school year16 people in Maya's school will lose their jobs and of their current 5 grades, those will be reduced to 4 which means likely that the class sizes will go from around 10-13 to 15-20 which is quite a significant jump.  It also means that the extra money that Maya's education costs is no longer allocated directly to her for her education and therapy but that the total amount is given to the school to be spread among all the kids.  I am not quite sure what that will mean for her or if there are other consequences.

It sucks.

The only bright spot on the horizon is that the vote has to still be upheld by the upper house of Parliament and they usually show a lot more sense and brains than the lower house of Parliament, for instance a few months ago the lower house sent legislation to outlaw ritual slaughter which would outlaw the practices of both Kosher and Halal butchering methods.  The Upper House defeated the law on the basis that doing so was discriminatory toward people of the Jewish and Muslim faiths and that by passing a law such as this the Dutch government was effectively shutting down freedom of religion.

Let's hope that the more reasonable heads prevail when this proposal has to go to the Upper House.

Still, it sucks that I even have to worry about this.

Maybe if we're lucky I'll get cheered up by something one of the two stooges says.

Come on Mitt and Sanatorum - make my day!

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