On this day, November 8, 2016

Equality
September 2001

EDITED: November 22, 2016

Sadly, the election did not turn out as expected. The poles were wrong and we’re learning about the influence that social media may have played in affecting the outcome of this election.  I had hoped that 2016 would have been the year we saw a woman elected as President.  I still have faith that we will see a great woman leader in my lifetime.  The following is still my hope.

How wonderful it will be for all our daughters to live in a nation where a woman CAN and WILL be POTUS.  Confirmed by a woman leader that will help tear down the inequalities and help heal this nation.

Wondering what it will be like for my future grandchildren to never know any difference between who can be a leader.

Earning income and providing care is equally necessary and should be equally valued.

I believe in the goodness, kindness and general integrity of all people. But why has it come to the point where we don’t value or respect caregivers? Especially those in the professions that raise and educate our future generation. The very ones who will be responsible for our care and well being when we are old.

Often those who provide care are not paid a living wage, sometimes they are not paid at all, they receive no benefits and have no retirement coverage. Low pay, underpaid, under valued, over worked conditions are happening in all fields of business but especially with those who are our care providers.  And on top of that, our care givers are treated without respect. Who will raise our children and take care of our sick and elderly if we can not improve the circumstances of our care providers?

Recently, I spoke with a nurse who explained how she’d be responsible for 7 patients, 5 might be non-ambulatory and if one needed mobility assistance (say with getting to the bathroom) and could not be left unattended, what happens when one of the other 6 patients need mobility assistance at the same time? There was no “back up” support on staff.

I know a teacher that has Special Needs children who don’t even belong in their Special Education classroom. These children’s developmental needs are so low on the scale they belong in county programs or in day care until they are ready for a classroom setting. This teacher isn’t even credentialed or licensed to provide the services they are being asked to provide. And, on top of that, they are asked to take on more children then is recommended by the state with no support staff, with children that they are not licensed to provide bathroom care or seizure care for. I feel for these children, their parents and the teacher.

Teachers and nurses should NOT be in tears every day at the end of their shift. Nurses and teachers are so exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally that they not only put their own lives at risk but that of those they care for.

Why do we hear that there is a huge nursing and teaching shortage? I see literally thousands of postings for qualified teachers, para-educators and nurses, nursing aide’s etc. in the Bay Area.

Yet I know many, many teachers and nurses and experienced middle aged women who chose parenting over careers who wish to reenter the work force, not being able to get these jobs. The school districts and health profession make the qualifications ridiculous for applicants. If they do get hired they are asked the impossible, not given the tools and staff support they need to perform their job and at the slightest slip up are let go. I recall that 30 years ago (before I myself chose to have children) companies provided training to new employees.

Today’s situation is only hurting the children and the patients. The longer these positions go unfilled, then what is happening with those wages that should be going to employees? By not hiring enough staff, by not hiring aid’s for enough hours such that benefits must be paid are these business’s just making their bottom line look good?

We are led to believe that if we are admitted as a patient to a hospital that it is fully staffed. It is not!

We are led to believe that our children’s educators have the support and resources they need for our children. They do not!

I know that many teachers are trained well, mean well, and have the knowledge to ask for what’s best for our children. Because of the bureaucracy of the corporate entity that runs our schools, the work a teacher wants to accomplished is sometimes brought to a complete halt.

Why is it that school kitchen staff and janitorial staff (who get benefits) are paid more then a para-educator who these days barely makes minimum wage, is not allowed to work more then 25-29 hours so that a districts doesn’t have to pay benefits but at times maybe left responsible for a full class of children? This leaves teachers without assistance for hours each day. Children that should be in Special Education classes are mainstreamed. Disrupting those classes and put into a situation where the teacher is not qualified to meet that child’s needs. Mild to moderate Special Education children are not getting the services they need. Moderate to severe learning disability children are put into classroom setting where there are too many children to have their needs met. The diagnosis are removed from the reports or hidden from the very teachers who are to be teaching them. And children that belong in county programs are put into classrooms where they are lost and confused. Again making it nearly impossible, if not completely impossible, for the teacher to teach those they are trained to teach.

I am deeply saddened for these children and their families. Only those that are financially well off can afford to hire private tutoring, therapy and interventions to help their children reach their full potential.

It is a wonder that children learn anything in schools these days because teachers are so overwhelmed dealing with emotionally disturbed (ED), ADHD and behavior/learning disability children that distract the classroom so much that there is little ability for the teacher to actually teach.

I wonder if the “no child left behind” is actually LEAVING ALL CHILDREN BEHIND.

Why have we forsaken our caregivers?

What are some of the solutions?

Stop paying ridiculous salaries to those who add no value. (The top management) Hire more support where it is needed. Let teachers and nurses do their jobs and hire enough staff for the student and patient needs.

Put trust and respect back where it belongs, with those who serve. Make teaching, nursing and care taking respected careers. Begin by paying an equitable salary based on the amount of education required for the job.

Start supporting families again and get back to the 8 hour work day. I recently read a study that an office worker becomes ineffective after about 6 hours of work and all other workers performance declines after 8 hours.

Why are we still one of only two countries that doesn’t have paid maternity leave? How can hourly workers afford to take time off for a sick child or family member if they have no paid leave time?

The following thoughts are either inspired by, a direct quote or rewording of text from the inspiring and well written book Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter. I think you will get the idea of where I’m headed with these thoughts and why I’m perplexed and/or frustrated by the state of care in this nation. As this book also points out, feminism has done much to advance our awareness of the need for equality but now the issue of care is as much a men’s issue as a women’s issue and as much of an issue for our nation as a whole. I hope this blog post has got you questioning they way things are in a different light then you may have previously thought of these issues.

*The problem of care, or more precisely, of not valuing care is what’s at issue here. We need teachers, child care providers, elder care providers and people who will raise our children of the future

*Is it no more justifiable to value the production of income over the provision of care?

*Care produces people.

*Countless women have described the ways they become invisible the minute they left paid work to take care of their children or other family members.

*How come when a women is doing paid work she is called a “working mother” but a father is never called a “working father”?

* Regarding when a woman becomes the lead parent: “it’s like all of sudden we don’t exist when we leave paid work to become care givers. Now we are “Nobody”. In other words, if all you do is care for other people, an activity just as if not more essential to the survival of the human race as earning an income, you lose your very identity as a person of value.”

*There is a devaluing of and discrimination against caregivers.

*“if a woman takes time out completely, her time spent caregiving is a black mark on her resume going forward, a hole that she will try to cover over or explain away when and if she tries to reenter the job market.”  And I’ve noted that volunteer work to fill those gaps is just about as disrespected and devalued as caregiving.

*Motherhood penalty – have a baby and a woman loses just about any chance of promotion, decreased long term financial stability and will be much worse off when she is elderly then a man. The amount a man will earn greater then a woman will earn over a life time just based on wage inequality is staggering and those greater earnings will earn greater wealth overtime then a woman’s.

* The nation and business’s are losing out on a vast amount of talent.

Also from the book:  caregivers are “the custodians of human capital.  In a richer and more sensitive rhetoric, they are the nurturers of humanity itself.”