Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hey, look over here!

As some of you might know (or don't), my husband is a high school math teacher among other things, but that's his main job. He teaches a course at our community college, is writing a Geometry textbook (with an Algebra 2 book in the wings), and grades calculus and geometry papers for students at the IU High School. When he's not physically somewhere else, his nose is buried in his computer screen. Pretty much from the time he hits the door until the time he goes to bed. Some women are hunting widows, but I’m a workaholic widow. I bet if he were paid what I think teachers SHOULD be paid, he'd still do most of the stuff he does, but he isn't paid what I think someone with a master's degree SHOULD be paid.

And when he's not doing any of THOSE things, he serves as the union president for his school corporation. Ah, unions. Because they're not in the news enough right now. My husband, who DESPISES politics, is right in the thick of it whether he wants it or not. And not only is he in a union, he's in the *gasp* TEACHER'S UNION! Oh, the humanity.

I'm not going to go into great details about some of the bills that are before my legislation right now other than to say that there seems to be an outright assault on public education. This is led by our Governor, Mitch Daniels, who by the way has his eye on 1600 Pennsylvania and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett. One of the bills that blows my mind allows for taxpayer dollars to be funneled away from public education to private education. I, for one, have no issue with private schools. Whatever. What I do take issue with is that this legislation is being supported by Dr. Bennett. Now, read what his title is again…right, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION. Now, pardon me here, but What. The. Fuck. Public is in his title, right? Did anyone inform him of this?
Today, I kind of had to gasp. Now, I’m never sure how accurate facts and figures are. I don’t know how seriously, I should take statistics (and not the course because I did NOT take that class serious enough), but this one caused me to suck my breath in…and worry more than I have been already. Apparently, the ISTA (Indiana State Teachers Association) president, the head cheese of the organization, spoke with some teachers at a school with which I have some familiarity (I hate you, Greyhounds. Suck a dick) who stated that if a merit bill passes, they could lose up to 10-15k of their salary. Now, I don’t want to give away that a person with a BS isn’t making much money, but I don’t. I, too, work for the state…and if MY salary was cut by 15k, it would be almost cut in half (actually, because I’m the fiscal officer of a department, it would be about 42.8%...and now you know how much I make). I would make about the same money when I was in college working 30hrs a week. I’m not saying that my husband would make less than 20k, but what I am saying, essentially, is that we would lose our house. There is no doubt in my mind. And the kick to the teeth, punch to the throat, whatever, is that he has a master’s degree. That we’re still paying on right now. Because when he received it, he got a bump in pay for a job that is, I’m sorry, a little underpaid anyway. As all teachers state, “I don’t go into teaching for the money”, and that’s obviously the truth. It also shows that I didn’t marry for money. There is no money in teaching, but Jesus. Should a high school dropout make MORE than my husband? My husband who has a Master’s degree? What. The. Wickety. Whack? Really? Now, again, whether these figures are accurate or can really be assumed is still up in the air, but just the simple fact of knowing that this could happen is scary. Even if it doesn’t happen to US.

I have more friends than not who are teachers. I mean, just off the top of my head, I can think of 5 people that I communicate on a fairly regular basis who are teachers. And damn good ones. And knowing that this could happen to them KILLS me. For all I know, merit pay may work in their favor because they ARE good, but I also know where they work. And I know that tying their students’ scores to their pay is a terrible idea. TERRIBLE. Low income, non-involved parents, abuse, homelessness, etc. These are things that teachers cannot always overcome regardless of what government officials think. You can try, but maybe there are some kids that may be so broken that you can’t reach them. How do you engage the ones that don’t WANT to be engaged? I realize that the government’s attitude is, “A good teacher CAN reach them.” I don’t agree with that. I have firsthand experience. I was a smart kid, but I was a lazy student. This is obvious by the discrepancy between my high school and college grades. I barely graduated in the top HALF of my class, but my entire time at IU I was a Founder’s Day awardee (which I guess is like the Dean’s List or some such nonsense). No matter what punishment my parents came up with and regardless of how hard the teachers worked to get me to try I wasn’t having any part of it. And I wasn’t broken. I had a roof over my head, good food on my table, parents that loved me, and anything I wanted. Yet, I didn’t care. No teacher got through to me. Sure, I had some good grades in classes I liked (shout out to Mr. Roach, Mrs. Baxter, and Mr. Brown), but most of the time I just didn’t give a crap.

And there are other things that I could address…no more due process in firing? Expansion of charter schools when there are no data to support that they’re better than public schools, etc. on, and on, and on.

So, I’m sorry if you thought this was going to be a funny post of Lexisms or any of the other trivial and silly things I typically do around here. If you’re annoyed, that’s fine because I am too. I prefer the stupid and silly stuff over the heavy stuff, and unfortunately, it might be heavy around here for awhile. Or I won’t be around at all. Who knows?

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