Monday, June 24, 2019

At PS 333--No Health Care for You!

Yesterday I wrote about the revolving door of second grade teachers at PS 333. I mentioned a much-loved teacher who started out the year without being completely certified. I was under the impression that this was why he left.

Yesterday I got an email forwarded to me that had a little more information. Evidently the young teacher got his certification within the first few months, only to learn that there was a hiring freeze.

It's hard for me to understand exactly why you'd apply a hiring freeze to teachers already in place, particularly those assigned to a group of impressionable seven-year-olds. It's even harder to understand why a determined or resourceful principal couldn't find a way around it. Of course, I'm not one of the great minds who sit around Tweed and do Whatever It Is They Do There. I'm just a lowly teacher, so to me that makes no sense at all. If I were a principal, and I had a teacher kids and parents loved, I'd fight tooth and nail for an exception. I'd get this teacher a full-time job whatever it took.

Another approach would be to just tell the teacher to suck it up, and keep working without health benefits. After all, who needs them? What's the big deal if you get sick and have to go to the ER? Who cares if a day there costs you $10,000? That's only about sixty days work as a sub, before taxes. Maybe after taxes it's half your annual salary. So what? There's always the other half. You can use that to, you know, eat, live, or whatever it is you do when you aren't teaching.

Actually I was extremely surprised to read the principal of PS 333 told this young teacher to "figure it out," as opposed to working to help him. There are ways administrators can help teachers, if they're so inclined. Isn't that why they pay them? There's a young Spanish teacher in my department who came in as a per-diem sub. My AP helped him find a program to help, supported him and he's now drawing a salary. He doesn't have to go back to his country if he needs to see a doctor. Without health insurance, that might be his only option.

I don't know if the second grade teacher at PS 333 had a country to go back to. A lot of us were born here, and this is the only country we have. The number one cause of bankruptcy in this country is catastrophic medical emergency. You really don't want to have one of those when you live here, especially if you don't have insurance. You may be a great teacher, and you may love your students to pieces. Still, you may not be the very best role model if you decide taking care of your health, medical, financial, and otherwise, is not a priority.

The young teacher found himself a full-time job elsewhere and took it. He was, in fact, very sad about leaving the class. The principal, rather than fight for him, decided to blame him. She berated him and called him a coward. In PS 333, it's disgraceful if you're concerned with paying your rent. Why not get a job at a stable shoveling horse manure in the morning and work nights over at Dunkin Donuts so as to help out a principal who hasn't helped you?

I don't know what consequences there are for principals, but I've seen teachers in trouble for far less. Why not give this principal a promotion, DOE? Admit no guilt. Send her where Ben Sherman and Monika Garg are, to help Ben and Monica do whatever Ben and Monika are doing. At least they won't be in contact with teachers and students.

You will be hearing more about this school. These stories are the tip of the iceberg.
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