The biggest reason I am not marching in Washington this weekend is that I go back to work on Monday. I've been to school several times this month, and I am opening the school for teachers tomorrow for a workday.
Specifically, I am going back Monday to do a week of unpaid training. In this I am joined by thousands of public school teachers, who spend their time and money going above and beyond for your children.
Teaching Kindergarten has given me a lot of pleasure. It's also given me whooping cough, mononucleosis, and several exciting flus. I have picked ticks off children after a field trip. I picked up a child who really needed a hug three days after being in a car accident that totaled my car and permanently damaged my shoulder. I have been bitten, kicked and hit by emotionally disturbed children. I have had to retire shirts inadvertently used as kleenexes and once took a half-day off because I had been thrown up upon.
In exchange, I get a mediocre paycheck, a lot of bad press and a modest, threatened pension.
I am not a saint, a missionary or even rare. What I recounted above is pretty much par for the course, especially for teachers at high-needs schools.
So the next time someone at a dinner party is pontificating about lazy teachers, or the unfairness of lifelong pensions, or our horrible public schools, I hope you will observe that truly politic behavior requires calling out lies, no matter what the venue. The next time you read Joe Klein maverickating about the glories of education reform, I hope you'll drop him an email. And the next time you turn on the television and you hear about the dread teachers' unions I hope you'll remind those around you that those unions are made up of the teachers who go to work everyday to teach your children.