I want to write. I started on three flash pieces. I keep trying to edit a longer work in progress. I’m not terribly good at writing, but I usually like doing it, so I get frustrated when I just…can’t.
See, between all the shouting and the crazy-pants statements and the accusations and the nonsense and the unease, I just can’t concentrate. Normally, I’m all for checking out of reality and into my own headspace, but this recent media war hits too close to home. The home I have to pay the mortgage for. The home with my food in it. The home where my hubby and cats live. The home I can’t afford without a job.
Here’s the thing: I work in education. I know, I could have said I’m a mercenary who eats live puppies or a Warlock Terrorist who feeds kittens to Communist Hitler Dragons and you’d like me better.
I’m not sure when the tide turned. Growing up, teachers weren’t terribly popular among teenagers, though most of the kids in my classes thought of them as a necessary part of getting good grades and getting into good colleges and getting ahead. The adults in town were all for teachers, or at least for the most part. I mean, they’d stick up for little Johnny or Suzy if they really thought Johnny or Suzy was getting the short end of some random measuring stick, but more often, they’d beat Johnny and Suzy with the stick again when they got home. (Not that I’m advocating beating your kids, but stick with me.)
These days, I hear about all these “bad” “greedy” teachers who make 90,000 a year (where does Rand Paul get numbers like this) to do nothing but complain and get their unions to rape and pillage for them because they’re too lazy to rape and pillage themselves.
And I find I’m flabbergasted. I mean, I know the media lies. I know corporations lie. I know the government lies. But I thought everyone else knew this too. People honestly seem to believe people like Rand Paul when he says teachers are getting 80-90 thousand dollars of public money a year. Sure, some teachers make that much, but certainly not all. Some corporate executives make hundreds of thousands of dollars, get millions in stock options, and don’t seem to do much besides sitting around with a dart board and an employee roster figuring out who to cut next. Of the few teachers I know making that kind of money, they’ve been in system for thirty or more years and they work year-round either in correctional education or teaching summer school (so they don’t have those three months off, unpaid, that most teachers do). That’s three decades of experience. These are people who have master’s degrees in their subject areas, are endorsed for every exceptional student class you can come up with, who are National Board certified, etc. You’re telling me they don’t deserve to make 80,000 a year? Really?
Because the other thing I keep hearing spouted in the angriest of tones is that American Myth of “work hard” and you’ll get rich or at least get paid or you’ll not starve. This vitriolic blathering assumption that if “these people” who are living off the fat of the land had somehow just worked harder or done the “right thing” they wouldn’t need all this public money.
Except they’re public school teachers. They work for the public. Who else would pay them? And are you telling me that these people didn’t “work hard”? That they didn’t “do the right thing”? Most of the teachers I know come from the lower rungs of the social ladder. They’re the middle and lower middle class, predominately. They went to school, got good grades, got degrees, took tests, took professional development courses, jumped through every asinine hoop that was tossed their way by the legislative circus and came out of all that expecting a living wage. And you’re telling me they don’t deserve that? Really?
Just what else were they supposed to have done?
Are you telling me that in the private sector, you don’t expect to be compensated for your expertise, your years of experience that makes you know your job better than they guy under the overpass? And if not, why the hell not? Why are you fighting for your collecting bargaining rights so you can get corporations to stop handing your job to the lowest-paid jerk-off monkey it can find?
And evaluating teachers “like the do in business”? How’s that gonna work again?
For the record, corporations get to choose their raw materials. They get to choose what to do with those raw materials. They can decide if those blueberries are too ripe, not ripe enough or if they’d rather just replace the blueberries with gobs of blue high-fructose corn syrup.
Private and charter schools can do the same thing with their raw materials. There’s a charter school not far from Miami that routinely got away with keeping out ESE kids and ESOL kids for years. I’m sure their test scores are terrific.
The kid in his sixth foster home this month with the crack dealing dad and the locked-up mom? Public schools get him. The girl who used to test well before she took over her grandmothers ecstasy business and started sampling the merchandise? Public schools get her. Sure, private and charter could take her, but we all know they won’t.
And that public school will get admonished for not making her “proficient” in reading and math by 2014.
Imagine for a moment that we did the same crazy-pants thing with police officers. Let’s pass a law that says all cities will be crime-free by some random year and let’s fire all the cops if that doesn’t happen. You ready to move to that place yet? Why not? You mean cops alone don’t determine the crime in a city? You mean if cities became “crime free” you still wouldn’t want to live there because it’d be all paper lies?
You mean teachers aren’t solely responsible for your children from the time you squeeze them out until they get married? Really? You mean between you and your spouse and your family and friends and neighborhood and discipline, you have some say in how your kid turns out? You mean genetics plays a role? You mean some kids just decide they aren’t going to buy into whatever you’re selling no matter how hard you try? Oh. Really.
For the record, I’ve worked in corporate America. I’ve worked for small business America. And my performance appraisals never actually evaluated my performance. The raise, or lack thereof, had been pre-determined by how much profit the company stood to make after paying the CEO to waste millions on font choices and the rest was a mixture of how my supervisor felt about me, how he felt about the latest re-org, and whether or not he could figure out my current job title.
(I haven’t really gone back and edited this. I really just, after reading comments to newspaper articles, seeing Rand Paul on TV, and feeling somewhat vindicated by Chuck Wendig’s post yesterday, felt like I had to get all this out of my head so I could go back to daydreaming. I also applaud Dan O’Shea’s rebuttal.)