Friday, July 27, 2018


Honestly I'm not sure people understand what it means to stand together. My biggest clue to this was reading objections to the parental leave program. People say well, I had my kids and no one helped me, so why should I have to support others? That's a remarkable attitude. To me, it shows not only what's wrong with us, but also what's wrong with the country.

For the record, I adopted my daughter from Colombia. I missed, probably, two months running back and forth to South America. There were a lot of things I did wrong, and a lot of things I wish I'd known before I began. Getting six paid weeks off that wouldn't have come out of my bank would've been wonderful. Nonetheless I'm very glad to be able to help people going forward. I don't care if I have to wait three months to get a raise. You can certainly argue that it's morally correct we get something for nothing, but I'm big on winning, and I don't believe for a moment that argument would have done it.

If you are outraged over paying for parental leave, let me point out that there are a whole lot of services you may use that I don't. First of all, I've been teaching since 1984 and I have never once been called in for a disciplinary hearing. Does this mean I'm wonderful and above it all? It doesn't, actually. I've done plenty of stupid things, and I surely will do many more. Nonetheless, I don't stand here and say, "Screw you. Why should I pay for a chapter leader to represent you?"

I can tell you that I've seen people I'd never expect to see issues in trouble. Given CR A-421, everything is in the eyes of the beholder. A few years ago, I had a student who reminded me a lot of my daughter. She looked like her, acted like her, and even had the same long, curly hair. She asked me a question. I don't remember what the question was, but I remember answering, "No, sweetie." That's something I'd have said to my daughter. As the words were coming out of my mouth, I thought I was going to the rubber room.

The girl in question, though, took my words exactly as I'd meant them. I was lucky, because if she'd complained I'd have gotten a letter in file at the very least. All I'm saying here is that getting in trouble does not necessarily mean you've done anything wrong, or that you're a bad teacher. That's why we have to stand together and help one another regardless.

Saying you ought not to pay to help our brothers and sisters who have children is like saying you haven't been mugged so you ought not to have to pay for police. It's like saying you don't get sick so you don't want to contribute toward health insurance. Just because things have not worked out perfectly for us is no reason to say, "Well, they're not gonna work out for you either." It behooves us to leave this place a little better for those who follow us.

Then there's the ATR. The ATR is kind of a terrible place to be. I've seen it do awful things to people, things so awful I can't and won't write about them. Here's the thing, though--it could be even worse, and it is in Chicago and DC.  In those places, there's a cap on the ATR, or whatever they call it, and people are fired after a certain period of not being placed.

Here's a fact--UFT could have had an on-time contract back around 2010 with double four percent raises if we'd sold out the ATR. And people like me could've said, "Well, I'm not an ATR, so screw them." Of course that would be stupid, because everyone is more or less ATR in waiting. We'd have been handing Bloomberg a way to fire a whole lot more teachers, and an incentive to close even more schools than he did.

Nonetheless leadership hung tough here. Now you'll say, sure, but the other unions would've hated us. if we didn't, and if we left them open to such nonsense. That may be true, though they probably hated us in 2014 when we dumped 10% over 7 years, the worst pattern ever, on them. It doesn't matter that much why we didn't sell out the ATR, but the fact is we didn't. Of course we have to find a way to fix it, and to end it. It's tough to patch up the holes in your boat you made back on 2005, especially when they've been left to fester for years.

The point is we stand together. We offer services to newbies that we ourselves did not have, and we try to leave this place a little better than we found it. If that's not our goal, why did we become teachers at all? Not everyone needs help with everything all the time. And help isn't always available when we need it. Let's move toward fixing it, though, rather than saying screw it all and placing our heads in the sand.

There's an old Russian story about two farmers. One has a cow. The other says, "He has a cow and I don't. I want his cow to die."

Me, I want the other farmer to have a Supercow so he can help both of us.
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