Mulgrew stands before the DA and bloviates for an hour. His talk is disorganized, frenetic. He comes back to things he hasn't finished. He sneers. He raises eyebrows. He speaks of how it's time to fight, how that's what he was taught when he grew up. He radiates the machismo that failed to surface anywhere during the six years we went without a contract, the machismo that evinced itself nowhere as the union said we'd happily wait another six years for the raises everyone else got years ago. We all voted for it because it was better than nothing, because they said they weren't gonna do better and we believed them.
Mulgrew shouts the determination to stop Cuomo that was nowhere to be found when Zephyr Teachout rose like a David but failed to garner sufficient force, that time, to slay the Goliath propped up by the dollars of our enemies. We know who the enemy is. Why didn't we know last summer, when we could have maybe done something about it?
A few in the hall remember unions blocked Teachout's challenge in WFP, that they failed to support the one in the Democratic party, but most there cheer wildly regardless of what is said, having signed oaths swearing to do so. Questions ensue, generally tepid, timid or technical. One or two, perhaps, are a challenge, and are met with strained humor, swift delays or smug derision. Questioners are carefully selected, many are ignored, and the entire affair ends precisely at 6 PM. Some leave with the impression something has happened, others do not.
The message filters down, maybe. There is an imminent threat, they say. But they've said so before, and I'm still here. The evaluation system will suck. But how can that be when it already sucks? Clearly no one trusts me, I'm constantly being questioned, whatever I have learned and practiced is never good enough. My supervisor, twenty years my junior, knows everything, hears little, changes nothing. How many years before I can walk away from this? I pity those people who've just walked in, working eighteen hours a day to meet the ever-shifting demands of bulletin boards, unit plans, lesson plans, never ending misinterpreted demands of components and utter disregard for the ever-diminished contract about which my chapter leader knows next to nothing.
Now they want me to tweet what they tell me. Use this hashtag, or that, they say, and everything will be better. Once Cuomo sees our tweets he'll run like a doormouse. Mulgrew doesn't tweet because, like the pigs in Animal Farm, he's off doing brainwork, filling ledgers that must be meticulously filled then burned in the furnace. That's what I pay a thousand dollars a year for, while they go to conventions and fail to support people who might actually wish to help me. Tweet? I've got lesson plans to write, and they must include direct references to the standards, the ones Mulgrew will punch me in the face if I try to pull from him. I need to make two copies in case anyone walks into my room and asks for one. It was terrible when I had to give away my plan period three and then try to teach it again period 5. That won't happen again.
Now they want me to go to a forum. My chapter leader is going, having been trained in what to say. I could go, but what difference would it make? No one listens to me and I'd probably get investigated or something if I said what I want to. I wanted to be a teacher, but all I am is a scribe, writing down lessons based on a curriculum that doesn't even make sense to me. My students are taking tests that don't match the ponderous and convoluted curriculum my genius 25 year old supervisor made us write on Monday and Tuesday afternoons when we were supposed to be doing who knows what.
Time marches on and no one listens to me. Bloomberg, Cuomo, they're all the same. They do what they want. Didn't Mulgrew tell us that Cuomo was the good guy back when Bloomberg was the bad guy? You cut off one head and another grows in its place. This may as well be happening in Zimbabwe, for all I could do about it.
Thursday night Blacklist is on. At least I won't know how that's gonna end.
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.