Sunday, April 1, 2012

First The Education Gap, Now Two More Sinister Gaps

As a teacher, I have been closely watching Governor Malloy’s assault on our profession. We have been accused of having cushy jobs for life because of the tenure system.  Our unions have been accused of stymieing education reform. Older, experienced teachers are portrayed as dinosaurs. According to him, all we do is show up to work and get paid.   He constantly reminds the public of the achievement gap in Connecticut; the discrepancy between the low and high-income students in our state.

This gap has got me thinking.  If there is an achievement gap, surely there must be other gaps in Connecticut as well.  Through my careful research, I have discovered two very disturbing gaps; the crime gap and the fire gap.  Two gaps, which have for some strange reason, been overlooked.

I started by looking at the different crime rates between Darien and Hartford, Connecticut. Hartford is one of the nation’s poorest cities while Darien is one of the wealthiest. Through my meticulous investigation, I discovered that the overpaid and apparently lazy Hartford police are not doing their job. The information I found out was mind blowing.  Despite having 445 sworn officers in Hartford vs. 51 in Darien, Hartford remains a very dangerous place.  In fact Hartford is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States.  That’s astounding.  In 2010 Hartford had nearly 6900 thefts, burglaries and robberies.  Darien had 143. 

Logically, you would think that it would be the other way around.  Crime should be out of control in Darien, because duh, that’s where the money is.  But, unbelievably, the crime rate is rather low.  In fact, the last time someone was murdered in Darien was 1999. Hartford has five homicides this year and a total of twenty-seven last year. Those crime dogs in Darien are busting their butts keeping the good residents of Darien and their BMW’s safe at night.

Clearly the cops in Hartford are eating too many donuts to prevent any crimes. They make good money and don’t seem to work too hard to earn it.  They ride around in air-conditioned cars all day.  They wear cool uniforms and carry guns. What they don’t do is prevent crime.  It is obvious that outdated union work rules have hindered any real progress in bringing down the crime rates.  I bet that if their pay was tied to how many people they arrested, boy would the crime rate plummet.  I’m sure that if the older more experienced (read - more expensive) cops were replaced by newer ones, fresh from the police academy, you could walk down the street flashing hundred dollar bills and no one would give you a second look. 

The other gap I discovered is the fire gap.  I looked at the fire statistics of Hartford and Avon, Connecticut for the year of 2011.  Avon is another fabulously wealthy town.  Hartford had 913 fires and Avon tallied only 32.  But here is the kicker.  The Hartford firefighters are unionized while the Avon firefighter are, sit down, volunteer!  That’s right, they don’t even get paid and yet they manage to prevent Avon from burning to a crisp. What are those greedy, unionized Hartford firefighters doing with their time?  Having chili cook offs? Polishing their pole?  And do they really slide down that thing anyway?  You never see them out on the street being proactive.  Only when there is a fire do they reluctantly leave their firehouse and go to work.  Disgusting.

I think the governor needs to be aware of these dangerous gaps.  I think we need to have a blue ribbon task force to figure out why crime and fire rates are so much higher in poorer communities compared to rich ones.  I think we need to get rid of collective bargaining and strict union rules that are damaging the very fabric of our society.  Once we bust the unions and make public employees toe the mark, then and only then, will we be safer and smarter. 

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