Biting the hand that feeds us

Published 9:00 pm Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It is amazing how often people bite the hand that feeds them. Undoubtedly the teachers of Alabama have suffered a tremendous bite from the payroll deduction and double dipping bill that passed through the legislature last week.

At some point, lawmakers must get serious about ethics. It is unethical to exclude those who have one of the most important professions in the world. How can we exclude teachers from the political process when they have helped to shape us into the doctors, lawyers, engineers and lawmakers we are today?

Aside from parents, teachers are the main source of knowledge and values that are passed on to our children. Without question teachers are pillars of our society. It amazes me how teachers no longer get the attention they deserve nor receive the reverence they once did in our society.

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At one time, teachers were one of the most respected professions in our community. In a sense, we are gradually losing our way. I couldn’t imagine a world without teachers. If there were no teachers, our society would suffer greatly.

Modern medicine would be obsolete and broadband technology would be nonexistent. I guess underpaying the teachers was not enough, we had to muffle the voice that was fighting for them.

There are those who would argue that teachers can still send their membership dues in via check or money order. The problem with this solution is that there are other associations that are politically involved but will maintain their payroll deductions. Educational organizations are singled out in what is being called the strongest ethics laws in the land.

What kind of day is it in Alabama when we celebrate eliminating and diminishing the pillars of our society? Our society is only as strong as our foundation.

The danger of power is that if it is not controlled it can have far reaching harmful consequences. Undeniably, the special session was about power disguised as a call for tough ethics. This special session was an opportunity for flexing muscles.

After gripping teachers in the headlock and prohibiting them from paying dues to certain organizations through payroll deduction, the finishing move has been taken, hindering teachers from holding any political office while working for the state. Interestingly enough, the argument was made that this dual role would obstruct the legislative process. Such an argument is ridiculous.

It is impossible to not bring your talents to the table when considering legislation. Businessmen, doctors, and lawyers bring their perspectives to the table; so why is it that teachers are not allowed to do the same?

Let’s not embarrass Alabama by only allowing the wealthy to hold office. What makes our democracy so beautiful is the diversity of representation that we have.

Hopefully, during the next session we will return to this issue and right the wrong that was done to the pillars of our society.