Sunday, December 16, 2018

Working in the Land of Mickey

I met a friend who now lives in Florida yesterday. I hadn't seen her in 25 years, at least. We used to work together at John Adams High School where she taught Spanish and I taught English to newcomers. I lost touch with her when I moved to Francis Lewis, but we reconnected on Facebook a few years back.

You read horror stories about teachers in Florida, but you don't really feel them until they're right in front of your face. My friend lives somewhere near Orlando and has been in various businesses, but has mostly worked as a teacher in one capacity or another. In Florida there is no such thing as tenure. Given how Campbell Brown and the reformies rail against tenure, you'd think Florida would have the best education system in the country. You can imagine how surprised I must be when it consistently turns out to be one of the worst. But I digress.

My friend worked in a public high school. You don't get appointed down in Florida. What you get is a contract for a year, which may or may not be renewed the next year. She worked three one-year contracts in a row, and in the fourth year expected to get a permanent contract. That sounds better, doesn't it? It turns out, though, that once you get a permanent contract, it only lasts for five years. After that, you have to go take whatever the licensing test is again, and then sign up for another five years, assuming they offer them to you.

After my friend's third year, she asked for a permanent contract. Her boss said no, she could have another one-year extension. She asked him why, and he told her he didn't like the way she looked at him. He could tell she thought she was smarter than he was. That's pretty remarkable, to have a boss who can read minds but is still insecure about his intelligence. He said she was not ready for a permanent certificate.

She pointed to her passing rates for some test or other, which were double that of the district or the state. He didn't care. The important thing was he didn't like the way she looked at him. She told him she declined to sign for another single year. He told her if she did that, he would mark her as unhireable, and she would not be able to get a job anywhere. This is one of the disadvantages of working for someone who's stupid and insecure, someone who has more power than a person like that should ever have.

She told him go ahead, but she wasn't signing another one year contract. Good as his word, the supervisor place the Mark of Cain on her, and sent her on her way. She appealed to her union. They told her they could appeal and get rid of the mark, but it would take a long time, Meanwhile, they advised her, she should seek a job in the private sector.

After a year, the union made good on its promise. She then got a job at some Catholic school that was thrilled with her passing rate. She also had a part-time job at Disney that somehow entailed teaching kids from other countries about America. I'm not clear on exactly why Disney is doing that, but after two years at the Catholic school my friend grew tired of working so much, and is down to the part-time Disney job.

And bad as things are here sometimes, they're a lot worse elsewhere. This is the sort of future the people who push Janus have in mind for us. Anyone who thinks these people are around to save us 1400 bucks a year is too stupid to be a teacher. You will lose that 1400 and considerably more as they push us further down into Walmart conditions (and it's no coincidence the Walmart family bankrolls so many attacks on us). That's okay with them. They're happy with ignorant teachers raising ignorant kids who will vote for machine politicians. That way they can keep screwing working people and directing even more money to people who least need it (like the Walmart family).

It's our job to turn this tide. We need to improve working conditions for ourselves, and we need to spread union power all over these United States. We have to weaponize the targets our enemies have placed on our backs and turn them outward. That's a pretty big job. But if our enemies have gotten this far with money and lies, imagine how far we can go with an activated membership, superior numbers and the truth.
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