Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ethics 101

Good morning class. We have a very interesting ethical dilemma to consider today. Yes, in the back, Mr. Taylor is it? Yes, you’ll have a chance to argue your points. Take out your notebooks and let’s get started!

Let’s say that you decide to return to work full-time and that you must put your youngest child in day care. You have never used a day care center before, so, you search the city you live in for the ideal place for your child. You see all sorts of places that seem to have taken their decorating tips, and possibly some of their staff, from Russian orphanages. After an extensive search, you find the perfect place for your child. The environment is beautiful, the center follows the Montessori philosophy, and all of the people you meet appear to be kind, loving people. You sign up on the spot, despite the high cost.

Your child starts at the center when she is 9 months old and everything is working out well. She bonds with her caregivers. The teachers prove themselves to be the lovely people you thought they were. Your child thrives. The months pass by and your child is now 15 months old. You spend a morning hanging out in your child’s classroom and discover that your child’s teachers do not have health insurance. The management of the day care center will only pay half of the cost of insurance, so, neither of the teachers can afford it because they are also underpaid. One of the teachers is an older woman who tells you that she cannot afford to pay for the doctor’s visit to get the prescription for her blood pressure medication renewed. You ask what she will do and she tells you that she will have to stop taking the medication. They cannot qualify for Minnesota Care because the employer pays a certain amount of their health insurance costs. You may assume that the teachers did not disclose these things to you to gain your sympathy or assistance. This conversation took place in the context of a larger conversation about how the world has gone to shit…ahem, I mean that the world is facing a set of unique challenges.

Now, what do you do in this situation? Do you:

a)Do nothing because it’s not your fault and there is nothing that you can do anyway
b)Ignore the issue and spend more time talking to the teachers about the weather
c)Discuss your concerns about fair pay and health insurance with the management in hopes of creating change, though you may cause trouble for the staff or be asked to leave a day care center that you really like and your child likes
d)Research alternative health care options for the staff and present your findings to them
e)Remove your child from the school in protest, though you have been told that issues of fair pay and health insurance occur in every day care center
f)Research unions for day care workers and provide that information to the staff
g)Stop talking to the teachers and wear dark glasses when you drop off and pick up your child
h)Eat lots of chocolate

There are many more options and you could certainly do any combination of the options listed above. What would you do and why? Please leave your assignments in my comment box and, if you have questions, I’ll be in the corner eating a candy bar…

5 comments:

Kristin said...

I gotta tell ya, that i have all the great ideas in the world, but would i really be able to implement them? probably not. sort of like "the lemon scone caper".

you could, with older worker's permsission, post a big note that says, "Jane older worker needs your help! Jane is on blood pressure medication, essential to her health. She cannot afford the medication and has since discontinued using it. Can everyone chip in $5 per month to get her prescription filled?"


They could hardly kick you out for that. I don't see why they could fire the worker, but i am probably being naive (if i could only spell it). And it would be embarrassing for the management. which is probably why they would lash out by firing the woman.

I think we need a legal opinion.

Emptyman said...

(i) start a grassroots political action committee which sweeps into office politicians who will address real problems, like access to healthcare for all Americans, instead of fake problems, like same-sex marriage.

(j) form a co-employer cooperative, collectivizing the risk pool of daycare workers across the state, and with the increased buying power and expanded risk pool, get cheaper healthcare insurance and other benefits for all daycare workers. (And cheaper worker's compensation insurance for the daycare operators.)

Raquel said...

It seems that there are 2 main problems: the immediate one, which is the fact that said worker cannot afford her medication and 2) the health care system, which leaves many people uninsured or underinsured. I think emptyman has some good ideas about the latter, and there are folks working on those issues here in the Twin Cities that you could hook up with (pick their brains, etc).
It strikes me that many private schools and daycare centers, especially Montessori ones, are pretty creative and successful when it comes to fund-raising. It might be interesting to meet with management and staff and interested parents to talk about potential events that the community could organize for the daycare that is specific to healthcare need of employees. Could we plan an annual event, with the focus being covering the remaining healthcare costs of the teachers/caregivers? Often events center around a specific project, ie. new playground equipment, new computers. Maybe we can have one for new healthcare coverage! I can see Kristin up on the dunking tank! I can see Vikki preparing caipirinhas!
I'll help with clean-up.

raquel said...

oh, and eat lots of chocolate.

Anonymous said...

i am having a beer at mcguerks to think about it. but while i am doing that, you might want to look at some of the sliding scale medical clinics in the twin cities. they offer discounted meds- sometimes have free samples, and discounted labs. the uptown community clinic on hennepin is staffed by volunteer docs in the evening and abbott residents during the day.