Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Everyone Needs a Break

I know firsthand that all work and no play makes NYC Educator a dull boy, so I'm very grateful for this time off. In fact, a study shows Christmas break is essential to a teacher's well-being. I can understand this, as teaching is a pretty tough job. Those of our relatives who make snide remarks around the holiday table probably don't understand this. After all, you work less than seven hours a day, and all you do is talk to kids all day. You tell them two plus two is four, and whether or not the kids remember it you still draw a paycheck.

Now I can understand why people believe that. Our governor, self-appointed student lobbyist Andrew Cuomo, has spent years trying to "reform" our evaluation system so he could fire more teachers. And when system A didn't result in enough teachers being fired, he moved to Plan B, the Heavy Hearts 50% Junk Science Plan. But unless they're regular readers of a blog like this one, your family cannot be expected to know that. But there is this heaviness we're all feeling, and don't delude yourselves, the students feel it too.

Now your relatives will argue that they don't get a break, so why should you? They could be fired for a bad haircut, so why shouldn't you? Of course, your first thought will be questioning your haircut, but once you've done that, you can move on to the main issue. That, of course, is the old story about thw two Russian farmers. This first farmer says, "My neighbor has a cow, and I don't. I want his cow to die."

Your family members, the ones who curse and ridicule you for your time off, your health benefits, or whatever, are very much like the first farmer. It would make a lot more sense for him to ask, "Why the hell don't I have a cow, and how could I get one?" But he doesn't think that way. And I suppose if I were reading the op-eds in the New York papers, including the Times, I wouldn't think that way either. The perfidy of teachers is a given, and all things reformy need to be done immediately, whether they're unproven or proven false (and most are the latter).

They'd be much better off fighting for better conditions for themselves, but if Bill O' Reilly (or a NY Times op-ed writer) said otherwise, it's an uphill argument. Who cares if pretty much everyone in Europe has these rights? It's just not the American Way, and that Bernie Sanders is some kind of a socialist, and even the teacher unions have endorsed Hillary.

Of course our friends and family ought to be out with torches and pitchforks demanding better working conditions for all. It's easier, though, for tinhorn politicians like Andrew Cuomo, and yes, Barack Obama (via Arne Duncan) to stoke outrage against teachers, the last bastion of vibrant unionism in these United States. That's just what's happening, and it's tough to fight demagogues bolstered by a sleepy mainstream media owned by said demagogues.

Another thing our relatives forget is that we took this job kind of as a trade-off. We knew we would never get rich, but we kind of expected to have other benefits in lieu of the money our friends and relatives would be making. We fully expected better job security, for one. Now that that's disappearing, so are a whole lot of teachers. I've seen inspired individuals walk out of relatively good jobs, and that troubles me. It's certainly not good for our kids.

And they need a break as much as we do. Rigor and grit has the ring of a dog food. We can do better by our children not only now, but also when they grow up.
blog comments powered by Disqus