Friday, May 11, 2007

Grass roots organizations

I went to two meetings this week of people concerned with the goings on in this community. I attended the ACT (Association of Commonwealth Teachers) meeting the other night. I've been to four or five of these this year. This is the first time I thought things were headed in a positive direction and that it was worth my time. ACT has a new president in Betty Miller, whom I've known since I arrived on island. Her daughter was my student and she was an involved parent. All year ACT has been sidetracked by the utter indifference to their own lives and careers by 98 percent of the teachers, and the two percent actively trying to help each other were engaging in personality conflicts and petty pissing matches. The net result is that ACT has been useless.

I get the sense, finally, that things are getting better. I think Betty and the new officers and the members might finally make something out of ACT. Given the number of teachers out there, we should have more political influence than we do, yet a lot of people tend to come and go from the system and can't be bothered, really.

Last night I went to Tina Sablan's Open Forum at the college, and this was a great experience. There were a lot of smart people making great comments and suggestions. Ninety percent plus of the things these people said made total sense. I've read the minutes to all the meetings, and everything in there with the rarest of exceptions makes total sense. I suggest you do the same and read them. This group is pushing hard for government accountability through a revision of the Open Government Act, setting up voters' guides that lays out the candidates actual views, thoughts and priorities, and generally laying out standards and challenges to fix the mess that is the CNMI. This will lead, I hope, to voting on actual issues, not on the number of signs a candidate has or how many people a candidate can get to wave at traffic.

I have to give props to Sen. Maria Pangelinan, the lone public official there last night. She is one of those recently elected leaders, like Cinta, that encourage me. Pangelinan really had to take the sins and anger about all the government mismanagement that has gone on through the years, and it was good of her to be there in a tough spot. She is a deficit hawk, which normally I appreciate, but I've read enough Keynes to agree that this would not be a bad time to run a deficit if ever there was one. I lay out the caveat that as long as the spending is going to important things like public education, public health, public safety, and something I'm certain needs more funding: Youth and Family Services because there is an astounding amount of verbal, physical and sexual abuse on this island that is making kids' lives hell.

The one thing these two meetings had in common were white people. I would like to see more indigenous people at both these meetings because I know they are as fed up with island happenings as the loud white people like me. There is an island habit, based on years I'm sure when this was a good idea, of just sitting quiet no matter what was done. Last year PSS violated the salary guide of about fifty of us in the Framingham Master's Program, yet I was the only one who would put my face and name to calling them on it, other than my one white friend I shamed into it. Incidentally, there were many white people upset about it who pussed out. I'm talking about you Ryan and Bryan. When the teachers got docked dramatically on the Praxis thing, an issue I was infinitely less sympathetic about, most said little.

The longest journey stars with one step, as the proverb goes, so it looks like we might be journeying in the right direction at least.


BoReGo said...

I've never gone to a meeting yet. What is the atmosphere like?

Jeffrey C. Turbitt said...

vastly improved now. gathering opinions to express the consensus viewpoint on various teacher issues right now. that is the current focus.

Anonymous said...

Your blog is wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I added it to my favorites.

Denton-Joe said...

Hey Mr.turbitt thats good to know. just yesterday my work gave us the opportunity to put in writings of complaints and opinions and i made the best of it. World Resort does not have a safe and healthy eviroment which was my main complaints. Just yesterday i slipped at my work and broke my wrist and now that i'm doing something about this that is the only time they think of something to do.