Sunday, May 01, 2011

Shame On You


Looking at pictures from the rally, I noticed something very unsettling.  I saw a preponderance of older teachers and a handful of young ones.  Many of the older teachers are retiring this year or in the very near future and still took the time to come, to show support and to fight for what is right.  The young ones, the ones  with careers ahead of them couldn't be bothered taking time away from their busy weekends.  Several used the excuse of being on early session, making hanging around until 4:00 PM a hardship.  (Most of the senior teachers around are on early session.)  Another was heard saying only the weak need protection.  I can't believe an educated individual has closed her eyes to what is happening, not only in New York City, but around the country.  Still others had the attitude of why bother, nothing ever changes.  I'm glad these people weren't around when I began teaching.  I'm not one to talk about the "good old days" but in those days, we stood up for ourselves.  We risked jail, job loss and suffered financial penalties when we went on strike in the late 60's and early 70's.  If it wasn't for teachers like us, these young teachers would not be making the money they are making today.

I heard one teacher complaining about everyone who voted for the 2005 contract, the one that gave up all our rights and he blamed the old timers, the ones near retirement who just saw dollar signs.  He is partially right about that but I know many senior teachers who voted no, unwilling to sell out for a few bucks.  I remember a whole group of young ones (he was part of this group) who didn't even know the contract was being voted on and didn't vote.

I hope all of you who didn't bother to show up enjoyed your afternoon naps, or your happy hours, or whatever else you do on a Friday afternoon that couldn't be postponed for an hour.  Don't come crying to me when it is your job on the line or when your class has 50 students in it.  I paid my dues and I will be home reaping the rewards of the work I did for over 35 years.

9 comments:

CrysHouse said...

I believe it's called foresight, yes?

Sweet Girl Tracie said...

I actually noticed the same situation at the demonstration, that there were A LOT more older and seasoned teachers, and very few younger teachers.

From this younger teacher who WAS THERE,this blog post is 120% accurate.

Sweet Girl Tracie said...

Oh and the school that I was in dismissed on Friday's early dismissal at 2:25pm. I waited around (since I was approximately 2 miles away) to take care of errands and other little things before the rally began.

Chaz said...

I agree. It was shameful that few young teachers were there.

Sweet Girl Tracie said...

Younger teachers will maybe 'get it' when they are under fire and realize how important it is to stick together.

retirement 4 me 2012 said...

Young teachers feel that youth is on their side and the principals will protect them over senior teachers. I always tell them that they need to see the writing on the wall. Their time will come when they are under attack and have accumulated years in the system. I also see them as ignorance with a touch of arrogance.

Emma Goldman's Ghost said...

I hold the union partially responsible. It is their responsibility to educate the young and unknowing. For all the young know, the union just has enabled the DOE to do what they please, such as the ATR situation which was agreed to by our own union. The union needs to promote itself as a labor union, not an agency of the DOE. The young also see no new contracts or RAISES like the other city workers, so they assume that unionism is dead in the water, which it very well may be in this age of the new fascism. The union needs to reinvent itself as a labor union first. No, we are not a child advocacy agency either. "Rallies" and wearing of colors are toothless and ineffectual. Yes, they are an expression of solidarity, but weak ones. The AFT should be organizing, not inviting Bill Gates to speak at conventions. They are a sellout, and the young have no idea what a labor movement consists of.

Moriah said...

The Ghost of Emma is right. A union is its membership, not a few elected representatives. New members need to be educated by the older members. I agree there isn't much in it for older teachers right now because many will soon retire with good pensions and benefits that the younger ones will never see unless they wake up and get active, but if the UFT leadership doesn't educate the young ones, it's up to the older teachers in the building. I have started attending meetings of a group called the Grassroots Education Movement. There is a link to them on my blog. There is a mixture of older teachers and younger teachers who are fighting very hard for public education. Everyone is welcome.

Anonymous said...

i'm a younger teacher who entered the profession through an alternative certification program, and i chose not to attend. not because i don't support these shared goals and aims, and not because i don't believe in untions or tenure, but there is so much malevolent bashing of teachers who choose alternative certification - without considering that some of us are incredibly effective - that even if we WANT to support these events, we're not welcome at them. i have a PhD in the sciences and chose to teach HS biology because i love teaching, and goddammit, i'm really good at it. but that doesn't mean a thing to other teachers, because i didn't go through a traditional program.

the first step towards fixing what ails the education system is to get all the teachers at the table and to start valuing them for who they are and what they contribute, regardless of how they got there.

i'm sorry to hijack your post like this. i'm just so tired of it all.