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Jerry Webster

The Cliff

By November 18, 2012

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I have to admit I'm still recovering from this year's elections:  not just the endless negative advertising (I live in Nevada, a swing state) but I also walked for a number of candidates and joined Democrats at the Mandalay Bay for election night returns.  I was able to go home by 10:30, since with the three hour difference Romney conceded at 9:55 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.  This last week the news has focused on the talks between the President and Congress on how to pass a budget to avoid the "fiscal cliff" that would revert to Clinton era taxes as well as make some significant cuts in programs that are sacred to both Republicans and Democrats.

The good news is that there seems to be a lot of willingness on both sides to work together.  We hope they will also be listening to the voters, who across the country passed measures that supported public education and turned away from privatization and charters.  Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers wrote about that in this Sunday's New York Times.

There was also an interesting article about a manufacturer in Stacy, Minnesota in the Sunday Review entitled, If You've Got the Skills, She's Got the Jobs.  Traci Tapani, who inherited her dad's metal shop in this rural community north of St. Paul, is having difficulty finding welders with the skills she needs.  She needs welders who understand metallurgy, modern cleaning and brushing techniques.  She is now training her own. Still, those welders need to be able to read welding charts, which requires higher math skills.  While there are 8 million unemployed people in the United States, there is a serious shortage of certified, qualified welders.

What does it take?  Education.  I certainly hope that as Democrats and Republicans are looking at priorities, they will consider the importance of education.  I have been taken to task for talking about the monetary value of special education, especially for our more severely disabled students, like those with autism spectrum disorders or multiple disabilities.  We have to, if we are going to justify the cost of what we do to a public that is setting priorities for tax revenues.  I agree with Randi Weingartner, the voters seemed to be saying that education is a priority.  I'm personally concerned that with the beating we are currently taking, when my generation retires, which it soon will in great numbers,  there will not be anyone interested in taking our places.  Who would, under current circumstances?

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