Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Observations From Under the Bus

I have to say, in the heat of this summer, it has been pretty cool under the bus.  We do get a little breeze near the rear axle which is a small but gratifying relief during high noon.  I have been thinking and it seems that the thought of being tossed under the bus is more disturbing than actually being under the bus.  I guess you never realize how vulnerable you actually are when you assume that certain elements of your life are in place.  I thought I would be a teacher until I retired because I had a degree of job protection afforded me by my union.  We in the ATR now know that such is not the case.  I guess that is what made the abrupt and unceremonious tossing of tenured teachers so dispiriting.  But there is more; let's give credence to the budget restrictions, just for argument sake, because the budget is the excuse for releasing tenured teachers -- right?  The school could no longer afford that teacher. So, here we are with the creation of a made-up group of senior teachers labeled ATR who have spent the summer basking under the gas tank of a school bus.  Does the union assist those of us who need the union now more than ever?  Is there even an e-mail address to specifically answer our concerns?  Why doesn't the union create a Facebook page for ATR's and send a notification out to all concerned that they have created a line of communication?  One of the difficulties of being in the 800 or so ATR's is the isolation and forced fragmentation of its members. If not for the blogs addressing these issues we would be left entirely in the dark. We have issue with evaluation, with representation and with support.  It's not that I'm expecting the union to gather activist members to load 100 buses to head to Chicago in support our brothers and sisters in CORE.  I mean, that would be too..what, progressive?

How much time is devoted to make the best use of the teachers in the Reserve? Apparently, very little, if the best that they can come up with is to send each of us, willy-nilly, to a different school each week to be given a generally pointless, keep busy assignment by the AP. I wonder how that is done?  Maybe with a dart board, or spinning wheel that matches the Teacher with the School. We know that the UFT and DOE are designing an onerous work environment that pushes its constituents out the door.  This is not news.  What would be news is if the union announced a new initiative for its long time members. So, instead of sending us out to the annoyance of principals citywide, let us gather at various job training sites to learn our new skills.  Just a quick perusal through Craigslist "education jobs" we find the ever present charter schools offerings, ESL teacher requests, tutoring, selling or shilling education software that will reduce the number of teachers in the new classroom. Real opportunity abounds!   Let's see?  A teacher can easily be retrained-- to do what?  I know! A standup comic.  There is a real tradition of teachers becoming stand-up comics -- Robert Klein for one. Hey, we know how to address an unruly crowd, we are already quick on our feet, we have stories that will lay you out laughing and finally, really, this whole thing is a JOKE!

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