I came very close to being one of the teachers suffering through the current abuses of our state. Earned my MAT in 1999 from one of the most bizarro places I’ve ever spent a year, George Fox University. I had little idea of wtf I was getting into, recently out of one of Portland’s small liberal arts colleges. Oddly enough, at that time I decided that teachers here (don’t get me wrong, they’re treated bad everywhere to my knowledge) are treated too badly, and decided to geek out instead.
Over the last few years, I’ve frequently experienced regrets about not pursuing that path. I believe that I’ll go that way sometime, but not yet…first I need to write something that will really come back to haunt me. However, seeing the tragic disregard towards our teachers makes me so sad, yet lightens my load for the decision I made those few years ago. Trust me, I do not revel in this. These teachers are people who I respect very hightly. They work extremely hard. They burn out in a system that gives them no out. All sides are against them. When the polls come, teachers are always one of the most respected professions, along with doctors and lawyers.
Teachers truly are professionals. They are trained as professionals, regulated as professionals, and held to standards as much as other professionals. Why aren’t they treated like professionals? Why should they even have to unionize? There should be no question of their importance to this society, no doubt about the persnal investments of tears, sweat, time, and blood that we see across the country. There is no doubt of their influence on our lives.
I would love to see a teacher strike. And for the unions to go away. To not negotiate. To not lobby for the teachers, the districts, the mayor, or the people. Dissolve the union. Teachers are weakened by their compassion, just like nurses, taken advantage of. Let the teachers know that we are behind them, that we want them to be professionals. Two weeks. A semester. I’ll happily cook meals for a teacher and their family. Help how I can. Support them. Call it a peaceful demonstration. It would be one of the loudest in quite some time. The people haven’t lost their voice, I believe the leaders choose to not hear.