Age: 57 |
Birth City: آبادان |
Joined on October 02, 2012
Harvard-Westlake Chronicle — The streets were a sea of red.
As Aaron Rovinsky (University High School ’19) maneuvered his car down crowded boulevards in downtown Los Angeles, he watched as streams of teachers, students and parents marched toward the Los Angeles Unified School District Board headquarters.
Sporting scarlet ponchos and clasping colorful umbrellas, the protesters extended for tens of blocks, the growing mass growing more animated as the downpour quickened. As children delicately picked their way around puddles and teachers brandished signs declaring “FIGHTING FOR OUR STUDENTS,” Rovinsky felt hopeful despite the murky skies above.
“Although students are out of school and not learning in class during the strike, we get to fight alongside our teachers for present and future generations of students to have an overall better education,” Rovinsky said. “Teachers deserve the right to strike because they literally dedicate their lives to helping students grow into educated adults; they’ve given so much of their time to us, the students, so we should respect what they have to say and stand up with them for what they believe in.”
Over 30,000 teachers went on strike early Monday morning after 21 months of failed negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District, CBSLA reported. The district, which is the second-largest in the nation, has not experienced a strike in last three decades.
The union the picketers belong to, United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents 34,000 educators, wants high salaries, smaller class sizes and more nurses, counselors and librarians, according to the Los Angeles Times. Brent Smiley, who teaches history and English and Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, said he and his colleagues are protesting unfit teaching and learning conditions.
“It isn’t about money in our pocket,” Smiley said. “It really is now fighting the fight for what’s right and education.”
When UTLA negotiated into teachers’ contracts class size caps 10 years ago, limiting classes to 34 or 37 students depending on the school, Smiley said the district included a clause which allowed it to waive those caps during “dire financial emergencies.” Teachers wish to amend this part of the contact, known as Section 1.5, to allow the district to wave class size caps bilaterally, not unilaterally, Smiley said >>>
The Washington Post: The lifestyles of Iran’s privileged youths — including expensive holidays, glitzy parties and access to cash and jobs — have sparked public anger in recent months as U.S. sanctions squeeze the economy.
The young elite, some with government connections, flaunt their wealth on Instagram and in the streets of the capital, Tehran, sporting designer clothes and flashy cars and vacationing at posh resorts.
They are promoted to state jobs, granted lucrative scholarships and travel with ease. Even the granddaughter of the leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, was photographed last year in London with what appeared to be a $3,800 handbag — though some have speculated that it was fake.
But few in Iran can afford such comforts as costs rise and wallets shrink. And Iranians have started speaking out against inequality and a culture of nepotism that they say favors what are called the “aghazadeh,” or “noble-born” children of the elite.
Last month, President Hassan Rouhani’s son-in-law Kambiz Mehdizadeh was forced to step down after just two days as head of the Geological Survey of Iran following a public outcry and online accusations of cronyism. Mehdizadeh, 33, had previously served as an adviser to Iran’s Oil Ministry, but for many Iranians, his ties to Rouhani were proof that favoritism was at play.
That uproar followed a similar campaign last summer, when Iranians on social media urged politicians to publicly acknowledge any privileges enjoyed by their children because of government influence.
“I thank God that after my mission at the United Nations, my children . . . have returned to Iran and are living and working with their families in Tehran,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by Iran’s Donya-e-Eqtesad newspaper in August.
Around the same time, however, a conservative cleric popular on Instagram blasted Rasoul Tolouei, the son of a retired Revolutionary Guard commander, for posts that featured a pet tiger and lavish party he threw for his 2-year-old daughter.
“It’s not possible for a 25-year-old to be this wealthy on his own!” the cleric, Mahdi Sadrossadati, wrote on Instagram. “People are struggling to buy diapers for their babies,” he continued. “Which state do you live in?”
By all accounts, Iran’s economy is crumbling — and ordinary people are feeling the pinch.
Unemployment is high, shortages are rampant, and the currency lost more than half its value last year.
In November, the United States reimposed sanctions that have since battered Iran’s oil and banking sectors and crippled its outside trade. The sanctions follow the Trump administration’s decision to abandon the nuclear pact that Iran negotiated with world powers in 2015. That agreement curbed Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for major sanctions relief.
But even before sanctions were reimposed, inequality was on the rise in Iran, the result of years of government austerity, said Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, a professor of economics at Virginia Tech.
“Iran’s economic system does not treat people at the bottom of the economic ladder as well as those at the top,” he wrote in his blog on Iran’s economy.
According to Reza Akbari, who researches Iranian politics at the Washington-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting, dire economic conditions have bred “extraordinary resentment toward corruption, nepotism and the aghazadeh, who seem immune to the country’s topsy-turvy realities.”
While members of Iran’s ruling class once kept their opulent lifestyles under wraps, today’s elite Iranians boast brazenly of their wealth online and in the media >>>