Friday, March 31, 2006

It's the principal of the thing.

I tried ... and failed .. to out-snark James Taranto. So I will blockquote him instead. From OpinionJournal.

Great Moments in Public Education--I
An article in New York Teacher, the magazine of the state teachers union, pays tribute to Jack Powell--but not for his professional accomplishments, which are rather meager:

A longtime singer and guitarist with the Zucchini Brothers and a substitute teaching assistant for Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES [school board], Powell has lived frugally for years. He works about three days a week as a sub, earning about $70 a day, with no benefits. From March to October, he rides his bike 20 miles to work when work is available.

Sometimes he works for a funeral home to make extra money. The shawl he has wrapped around himself on this winter day, he says simply, doubles as a blanket.

"I do whatever it takes to survive and live a socially conscious life," said Powell, who has a tepee in his yard.

Far be it from us to fault Powell for lacking ambition or being a bit eccentric. If he's happy leading a modest life with his bike and his tepee and his courgette fraternity, hey, more power to him. But why is New York Teacher honoring him? Well, that is because of a "principled stand" he has taken. To wit:

Part of that survival--or so he thought--included shopping at Wal-Mart to take advantage of cheaper prices for himself, his partner and her two children. Then his discussions about Wal-Mart with Sandra Carner-Shafran, a teaching assistant at BOCES and a member of the Board of Directors of New York State United Teachers, started churning inside him. . . .

"I don't like what Wal-Mart stands for," Powell said, noting the mega-chain's scanty health insurance for staffers. "Because of all those things they can lower the prices."

He and his partner agreed to go on food stamps for their family rather than shop at Wal-Mart any longer.

Powell, that is, has generously permitted American taxpayers to subsidize his unaffordable moral tastes. Pardon us if we regard him as something less than a profile in courage.

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