Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A Chicken in Every Pot and a Spa in Every Teachers' Lounge

It should come as no surprise to you that friend of this blog Mr. Talk wrote a hilarious send-up of Mayor Bloomberg's non-demands. If you haven't read this piece already, do it now. You'll chuckle. I'll wait.


He's being facetious, obviously. But the substance of what he's saying makes a lot of sense. I often think about jobs that are comparable to teaching in terms of their demands, experience and education required low pay, and low prestige, and usually the only one I come up with is social workers. But even social workers, I imagine, can at least get the basic supplies they need. (If any social workers you know have to supply their own paper, let me know.) Or I think of police officers, who, like teachers, constitute a group of workers who are either lionized rather emptily or vilified quickly when things go wrong. I don't know for sure, but do cops have to supply their own guns?

A couple of girls from another class recently dropped by my classroom. They complimented my classroom library and said it was the best one at the Morton School. Now, that compliment means more to me than pretty much anything else anyone has said to me all year, because I've spent a LOT of time and money (my own, natch!) making my classroom library awesome and irresistible to teens. But still, I shouldn't have had to do that. I should have had a budget to order whatever books I wanted, in addition to paper and pencils and everything else I need. $150 doesn't buy a whole lot of books, even at Goodwill, when you have to buy everything else with it too.

You can laugh at Mr. Talk's column. You can agree that maybe you don't need a spa like the one in the picture in every teachers' lounge. (How about one per district? Can I get an AMEN?) But the substance of what he's saying still rings true. We don't even have the basics half the time, and we often lack the nice things that other so-called "professionals" have. I know we're probably not going to get them anytime soon. It's not reason to quit or anything. But it's worth asking why it's so hard to get the basics, and why the union can't unequivocally demand them.
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