This afternoon, I received an glossy unsolicited mailing from Education Reform Now, and after careful consideration, maybe I shouldn’t have picked up the mail today. On the front, a man in a pinstriped suit carrying out a cardboard box full of plants, pencils, and a job newsletter with the words “Thanks to the teachers’ union, your child’s favorite teacher may soon be looking for a new job …” written in marker in the front. In the back, they quote a Daily News article from April 14th, 2010:
” … the teachers’ contract stipulates that layoffs must be done based strictly on seniority … regardless of who is the more effective instructor … This is a recipe for disruptions that would strike at the heart of every principal’s attempt to tailor the best staff for his or her school.”
The flyer continues: “For more information and to get involved, log on: www.KeepGreatTeachers.org.”
The truth is, I don’t want any more information. I’d be tempted to send this back to them with a Post-It note saying, “I want my money back. I know I didn’t pay for this, but you can’t give me time back, so I’ll take the consolation prize.” I almost opened up to read further, but I’ve already seen this story before. The big bad teachers union holds back America’s children from learning anything because they protect bad (read: old) teachers. It’s the same rhetoric touted by the billionaires and their lemmings that continues to stand in contrast to the proletariat’s will.
Upon further inspection of this pamphlet, I noticed that they’ve left any specific names off the pamphlet, which leads me to believe they’re as gutless as they are ruthless. At least my union, the UFT, has the guts to put their names with their paraphernalia (even when we rank-and-file members don’t agree with what they do). They have no names, working in the shadows, prompting others to chip into the psyche of schools, using catchy words like “reform” and “bad teachers” to prop themselves up, putting crap in my mailbox, invading NY1 (my local cable news channel) with actors posing as parents crying outrage over losing Race to the Top money that they never knew we’d get a chance to get, and, in the process, making me vomit my Cheerios. I’m irate about the last one.
And what’s the purpose of this all? A big factor might be because … they want to eat old people.
It’s about as much sense of this latest sensation as I’ve made in a long time. After all, as my good friend Barnett Berry mentioned in one of our fiery discussions, cities without real unions all over the country deal with issues of seniority, so why would it matter in New York and not Florida, Arizona, or Kansas? Why turn against our most seasoned veterans at a time when schools need pedagogues who’ve dedicated their lives to the education of our children? Certainly, we have a few bad apples, but does that mean we cut down the tree while the apples haven’t even ripened?
I’m not sure that teachers who spend their whole first year learning the profession only to leave the second year for a more profitable job improve schools anymore than teachers who want to teach and never get supported or professionally developed for years on end. I’m also not sure that our country’s culture of demeaning public servants does the country well, either. I am confident, however, that continued school budget cuts pave the way towards the movement to eat our veterans in short order. Logically, no matter how qualified the teacher, a principal will be forced to push such a teacher towards retirement in order to staff his or her entire school.
Plus, experience refines the mettle of teachers, their blood fortified with iron and muscles supple and taut from their dual personalities in the classroom. Plus, those health benefits means teachers have taken care of themselves long enough to last through a profession that continually threatens to put them to pasture. That stands in stark contrast to the ghosts behind this dastardly pamphlet, replete with sodium and loose bone structure, especially along their spinal cord. While they too have health benefits, they spent most of their co-payment on sending me cheap paraphernalia that any person with the least bit of common sense won’t even read.
Either way, educators beware: these are vile men and women. They’re unclassy barbarians and they’re ready to dine.
Mr. Vilson, who doesn’t have a satirical bone in his body …