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I know, you are in the teaching life to teach, to instruct, to give to the next generation.  So am I.  But, I have come to some stark realizations lately:

1.  If you are a public school teacher, you are involved in politics right now, whether you acknowledge it or not.  Professional writers and pundits have been hired and paid handsomely to attack public school teachers and our representative organizations as their full time job.  And in case you missed it, they are attacking you, too.

2.  Even if you don't like the idea of being involved in some sort of job collective, like being active in your union, your critics will lump you together with all other teachers anyway.  Sorry, your critics won't let you out, no matter how much you want to be seen as that virginal, non-collective, not-dirty-with-politics, nice-smelling teacher.

3.  Critics will want you to forget that your democratically-elected union leaders at the local, and state levels have been, and in many cases still are in the classroom, teaching every day.  They will begin presumptive statements with phrases like "greedy union bosses" and hope that you forget that your "bosses" are still certified teachers, deeply committed to the profession.  For instance, the president of my local teaches AP English full-time with a huge grading load and is working on his Masters Degree while being a responsible husband and father.  Wow, what a "greedy union boss."

4.    If your union falls apart, you will be on your own to negotiate a job or contract up against big-money interests who have teams of staff lawyers just waiting to overwhelm you if there is ever any legal action that you may bring.  Don't believe me?  Ask any number of professionals, including doctors and nurses who work for huge hospital corporations.  Remember, school administrations operate in collective ways, also, not just teachers.  And they won't stop even if all teachers unions go away, because it is in their best interest to act collectively.  Hmmmmm...Maybe it's in our best interests, too.

5.  If you have any concern for the poorest of your students, you will want them to have the consistency of a good education, right?  The original purpose of public schools was to create that kind of consistency.  Those who want to dismantle public schools today want only to "open up a new market" of private schools that will come into existence, fail, over and again. Isn't that what wide open, freewheeling business does today?  Sure it is.  And not much of anyone thinks anything of it.  Would we think something of it if a charter school collapsed and closed at an odd time and their students had no place else to go for the rest of the year.  Oh, yea.  Who stands between "market" education and consistent public ed?  The teachers unions.  That's the whole purpose of these attacks.

The only way left for you to not be "political" is to stop being committed to public education.  So, welcome to "the collective", like it or not.  Your critics have made sure that you are locked in.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Welcome. (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eman, corwin, Ckntfld, Pluto, Predictor, OklaBrett

    Excellent diary.
    Tipped and recommended.
    We need all the voices for truth, logic, and sanity that we can muster to fight back against the malicious propaganda against public education.

    The false narratives and outright lies are legion and have gained prominence through well-organized vehicles of dissemination funded by the pluto-theocrats.

    We must unite for the sake of our children and by extension
    the future of our country.

    Humankind cannot stand too much reality. T.S. Eliot

    by blueoasis on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 07:26:02 PM PST

    •  Thanks! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      Thanks for the feedback and yes, truth, logic, and sanity...where did that go?

      •  Orwellian propaganda 24/7 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OklaBrett

        mostly.

        You are a good writer and an important additional voice in the fight to restore those basic values.

        Being a new participant without much name recognition yet,
        your diary drew attention already but not so much as it deserved.  As you participate more on the site with reading and recommending, becoming involved in the discussion, etc., you will increase your audience.  So many voices here, and with limitations on what members can read, people are more likely to click on familiar names.

        Looking forward to more, Brett.

        Humankind cannot stand too much reality. T.S. Eliot

        by blueoasis on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:26:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Another reason for teacher unions (8+ / 0-)

    To make sure that capricious politicians can't decide to change the curriculum for political motives. The best example is Texas, which is trying to rehab McCarthyism, and deny evolution. Not sure what will happen if teachers don't comply, but I could easily see life being made very hard for them.

    Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

    by corwin on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 07:29:23 PM PST

  •  I am continuously staggered by those who think (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    seabos84, jedennis, OklaBrett

    that speaking out is political and being silent is not, that action is political but inaction is not.

    So I see only tatters of clearness through a pervading obscurity - Annie Dillard -6.88, -5.33

    by illinifan17 on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 08:24:03 PM PST

  •  Bravo Bravo (5+ / 0-)

    I am retired now but was a PROUD union member for every one of the 37 years I was employed.  
    I have always been completely frustrated with teachers, well with all people, who act like being political is evil, or being an activist is just for politicians.  Do these people not know or comprehend what it means when we say, of the people, by the people, for the people?

    Our democracy or representative republic (as some libertarians insist) requires ALL of us to be activists, to pay attention, to be informed.  If not we end up......well where we are now, on the road to oligarchy.

    •  Yes, we are on a clear path to oligarchy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis

      and not by accident.  Wealth is, by it's nature, exclusionary and causes people to isolate themselves.  Since the 1970s there has been a clear progression toward oligarchy and a steady attack on working people in the US.

  •  So Many Twilight Zone-ish Things in Teaching (5+ / 0-)

    this is my 6th year, I'm 51.

    I'm constantly asking myself about my fellow teachers - WTF is this non-political bullshit about?

    HOW is it possible for people to consider themselves educated AND to NOT see that when you have 2 people, you have disagreement and you have give and take and you have compromise ...

    POLITICS.

    HOW is it possible for people to say they're preparing the future when they won't tell those young-uns that compromise and disagreement is NORMAL, so get the f'k over it, STOP calling what you don't like "political", as if your preferances are some objective reality and the preferences of others aren't - and get involved in the community!

    THANKS for this diary.

    EVERYTHING is political, get over it.
    Everything IS political, and by pretending it isn't the right wing is kicking our asses.

    While Madison and Egypt are inspiring ...

    WHY were things allowed to get so f'king bad?

    (at least in Egypt, when you spoke up, you disappeared into a cell and into torture ... that ain't no incentive to stand up ... EXPECIALLY to stand up for people who won't stand up for themselves!)

    I grew up on welfare, and the way things are going it looks like catfood for me in 17 years. At least:

    1. I'll be used to it,
    2. I won't have any friends cuz people will hate me for laughing in their faces cuz I told 'em 15 and 25 years ago ... we're all gonna FIGHT (non-violent) these bastards OR we're all gonna be eating catfood.

    Great Diary.

    rmm
    seattle.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 08:39:29 PM PST

    •  I've only recently gotten my (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      seabos84

      MAT & teaching license. I haven't been able to find a job outside of very occasional sub jobs.

      I fear being too political will prevent me from getting a job.

      Teaching is political, but I don't feel free to speak to it; I don't feel I can safely write a LTE in my local paper without jeopardizing any opportunity.

      I am much too liberal to be a Democrat.

      by WiseFerret on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 09:53:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  until you get a perm position, STFU ;) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, WiseFerret

        there are only so many hills you can die on, unless

        - you are a true mother theresa type and money and poverty do NOT matter,

        - you got a trust fund / private income.

        I've got a math endorsement, so I'm willing to risk running my mouth.

        good luck.

        rmm.

        Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

        by seabos84 on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 05:23:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You have a direct and logical reason for staying (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blueoasis, WiseFerret

        quiet for the time being.  My diary was directed to those who have tenure/career status that was hard-won by generations of union workers before them only to act as though they are above it all now.  Go figure....

  •  I teach (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kmbaya, blueoasis, Gravedugger, freerad

    I am not in a union.

    But I know this feeling.

    At a gathering for a friend's family, I was having a good time. I love meeting new people- it's like starting life all over again.  Clean slate.

    Anyway, someone asked me what I do and when I replied, "I'm a preschool teacher" with the pride I always have, the look on the faces of three guests floored me.

    Then one of them said, "Preschool?  Is that really necessary- I mean- it's like playgroups, right?"

    I didn't get into a debate, although I wanted to mention that what I teach in the preschool classroom today is what my 37 year old daughter learned in first grade.

    And play is still the most important aspect of Early Childhood Education.  It should be all the way to High School.  We all need to play.

    But I just smiled and said, "For some it is" excused myself and left.

    I have a poster hanging on my wall.  It's Garfield, and it says:

    You can't scare me.  I teach.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 09:17:31 PM PST

  •  Thanks for an excellent diary - (4+ / 0-)

    As a retired teacher that even to this day enjoys the benefits of a strong and active union I say thank you for highlighting the nonsense so often heard from those teachers claiming to be "above" those involved in union activities.  In my experience they never turned down the pay increase, smaller class sizes, the daily preparation time, the increased supplies budget, etc.  They also never took the time to attend school board meetings to testify for curriculum development, correction of safety issues or the need for facility repair or expansion.  I don't recall them ever spending their own money to travel to the state capital so they could testify before legislative committees about the need for increased educational funding.

    My 24 years in the classroom taught me many things, but one that stands out very clearly - legislators, school boards and school administrators will tend to take the easiest and least expensive "route" no matter how negative the outcome is on students and teachers.

    There are a lot of ways to succeed, but one sure way to fail is to quit.

    by jedennis on Sun Feb 27, 2011 at 09:21:01 PM PST

  •  Teacher Bargainer For 35 Years. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, OklaBrett

    In every school district, there have always been individuals who are not supportive of union activity. They've been openly dismissive of gains made in bargaining (thinking that those gains were not enough), and would not join in job actions or work-to-rule when bargaining got tough - until now. With cuts in salary, health benefits, and working conditions, those same individuals can be now be seen at school board meetings, crying their eyes out.
    Teaching has always been a political act. This is one reason why tenure is so important, and why we must always be aggressive when defending our rights as teaching professionals.

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