Tomorrow, vacation starts for me and most of my colleagues. I want to wish you all a happy and restful break. Despite the corporate-produced crap you read in the papers, your work is vital to all that we do. Remember that corporate reformers, despite their crocodile tears, don't give a damn about us or those we serve. No matter how creative and convoluted they make their arguments, they are dead wrong.
The most important resource we have is our children, and it's our job to prepare them for happy and fulfilling lives. Those who preach test scores above all are not only ill-informed, but fail to put their money where their mouths are. There are good reasons why Barack Obama, Andrew Cuomo, Bill Gates, Mike Bloomberg and Joel Klein don't send their kids to public schools. Prime among them is they don't want conditions for their own kids like those they preach for ours.
The reformy leaders don't care for large class sizes for their own kids. Though they publicly call Common Core essential, for some mysterious reason their own children have no need of it. You won't see John King's kids sitting in trailers. And you won't see his kids sitting in a room with the special needs kids I serve exclusively.
It's our job to do the best we can for these kids, and it's these kids who motivate us. My kids don't speak English, and doubtless Michelle Rhee thinks I'm ineffective because they can't score as well on tests as those who were born here. No excuses, they say, as they tape mouths shut and ship their own kids to private schools.
My point is that we can't take this stuff in. We can't take it personally when we're stereotyped and attacked in the media. It's a new day. Racism is no longer as chic as it once was. Gay marriage is rapidly becoming the norm. Troglodyte senators who attack women are being voted out of office. Who's left to vilify?
Right now it's us. But as far as I can tell, there's no job short of medical doctor more important than ours. Last time I looked, 100% of the patients of those doctors end up dying. Yet you don't see op-eds in the New York Post by Campbell Brown expressing her outrage that things haven't improved since the dark ages.
Put everything in perspective and enjoy yourself. Come back ready to help the kids who need you, and not Campbell Brown. When they write about how easy we have it, with our break, remember they are jealous and they need breaks too. In other countries, giving everyone a break is the norm. Of course, those countries don't have geniuses like David Coleman empowered to tell them no one gives a crap what they think.
It's our prime directive to give a crap what our kids think, because it's clear neither Coleman nor any of his reformy pals will do that very important job.
We do this not for Coleman, not for Rhee, King or Tisch, but for the millions of children who need our understanding and guidance. And we will wake up and fight every day to make sure they get the sort of education the reformy crowd wishes for their own children.
Be proud. Enjoy your break. Don't even contemplate guilt or embarrassment. Continue to fight so the kids we serve, one day, will get the same consideration, more consideration than we do. Remember that better working conditions for us mean better working conditions for the kids it's our job to serve.
Let's get in the faces of the corporate reformers, wake the union leadership, and wake the country.
Views expressed herein are solely those of the author or authors, and do not reflect views of my employers, the United Federation of Teachers, the MORE Caucus or any other union caucus.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.