Responding to the ridicule of teachers and the teaching profession by politicians and self proclaimed "experts"!
"Where is Albert Shanker now that we need him?" - Walt Sautter

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Back to the Future

Back in the “old days” of teaching, the 1960s and 1970s, teachers and the teaching profession fought long and hard to gain bargaining rights and respect. Prior to that time, salary negotiations, employee grievances and teacher rights were unheard of issues.
Only by “stand up” tactics was the tide changed. Teacher strikes and the threat of strikes pervaded the state. Teachers stood tall and demanded respect and fair compensation and benefits. Some people went to jail rather than continue to work as second class citizens without benefits, equitable grievance procedures and a solid (but not extravagant) pension system.
Today, all that was fought for and attained in those bygone years is being lost with little or no outcry from those effected. I see no massive response from teachers and teacher's organizations, only the whimpers and whines that occasionally appear on the newspaper's Letters to the Editor page. Is the timid reaction a tacit approval of “education reform” measures taken by the state or is it just pervasive apathy?
They say that it is impossible to relive the past but without a loud, forceful rebuttal teachers and the teaching profession will soon do so.
I am sure that some might say, “they only raised health care contributions a few percent, it's not so bad, we can afford it”.
I am sure that some might say, “they raised the retirement age but I'm far from that and I'll worry about it then, not now”.
I am sure that some might say, “they increased the denominator for pensions but again, I'm far from that and I'll worry about it then, not now”.
I am sure that some might say, “they eliminated the C.O.L.A. from the pension, but I'm far from that and I'll worry about it then, not now”.
I am sure that some might say, “they under-funded the pension and are still not contributing, but I'm far from that and I'll worry about it then, not now”.
They severely capped school spending and the chances of maintaining a decent wage are slim but “I'll let the negotiators worry about that – it's their job!”.
They are creating more and more “private public schools” “but that's only in the urban areas and it won't effect me”.
They want to institute “merit pay” but “that won't effect me (unless a connected person wants your job or you are at the top of the salary scale or you're on the administration's shit list) because I'm a good teacher and I would never get poor evaluations”.
They want to eliminate tenure but “I wouldn't be let go, I've been here for years with a good record” (see the previous sentence).
They want to end seniority (LIFO) but “I wouldn't be replaced by a younger, lower paid teacher. I'm a good teacher and they know it!” (again, see the previous sentences).
Now, you might ask “why do you care? You've been retired for years and most of these factors don't effect you at all!”
Well, here's why. I was seriously involved in improving the plight of the teaching profession for many years and I find it difficult to see all the hard work done by myself and many others go “down the drain”. Additionally, when people ask me about my career I want to be able to proudly proclaim that I was a public school teacher without fearing that I would be viewed as having been one of a group which demands little respect and is willing to continually suffer degradation and humiliation without protest.


  1. Walt----

    Lawyers and doctors don't get tenure--
    You're arguing against yourself--


  2. I think you meant to leave this reply to the "Tenure - Going, Going, Gone" piece.
    My mention of doctors and lawyers was not about tenure per se. It was to expose the false information designed to infer that a very low percentage of teachers lose tenure as compared to vast numbers of doctors and lawyers who don't have tenure and are therefore losing their licenses each year.
    I think the erroneous data was an attempt to show tenure preventing huge numbers of poor teachers from being fired while poor doctors and lawyers in the free market are systemically weeded out because they don't have tenure.
    The correct data however certainly doesn't show this at all to be true.
    Sorry if I was unclear as to my intent.


What do you think?