Feb 12, 2010

Lowered Expectations

Walmart has been widely condemned for offering its employees only low-paying, dead end jobs. Remember when candidate Obama criticized Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential campaign for having served on Walmart's board and stated that the firm ought to pay "a living wage?" I do.

Well, in good-old inner-city Detroit, where the unemployment rate is estimated at 50%, the prospect of a Walmart isn't taboo.

So, of course, four inner-city Detroit high schools have teamed up with the giant merchandiser to offer a for-credit class in job-readiness training that also includes entry-level after-school jobs

According to the Detroit Free Press, the principal at one of the schools optimistically suggested that "the program will allow students an opportunity to earn money and to be exposed to people from different cultures -- since all of the stores are in the suburbs."

The announcement of the program outraged Donna Stern, the Midwest coordinator for the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration & Immigrant Rights And Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary (BAMN). "They’re going to train students to be subservient workers" she told the Free Press. "This is not why parents send them to school." Oh, REALLY? I guess why bother sending your youngsters to school at all?

While Detroit area schools have cooperated on projects with Walmart in the past, such as a letter-writing contest in which students could win classroom supplies, and at Christmas Walmart donated presents to needy students in a Detroit suburb, this new team-up isn't floating as high.

Apparently it's the preceived racial overtones as training inner-city students for a career as suburban Walmart store clerks that's not flying. No one's saying that Detroit's schools are now desperate enough to accept help wherever they can find it... reminds me of a movie where a corporation took over Detroit to run it... RoboCop!

Meanwhile, to paint the picture a little more for those of you not in the Detroit system, the school district has been running a 'tad' red, and though emergency financial manager Robert Bobb has already closed 29 schools as a cost-cutting measure, it was reported this week that "the 84,000-student Detroit Public Schools could face additional layoffs and about 40 more school closings."

Detroit's teachers have also been chafing at a contract accepted by their union that forces them to make involuntary long-term loans to the school district out of their paychecks. A Detroit Federation of Teachers union meeting on Thursday broke down in chaos after members tried to put the question of recalling the union president on the agenda.

Yeah, so, maybe the teachers are complaining because they'd have better job security as a greeter than trying to elevate their students out of complete and utter urban hell? Are they afraid of a little competition?

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