Thursday, February 5, 2009

the spy who loves you

Tonight I went to a meeting with my best friend Jen who works at our kids' school as a Special Education aide. We presumed the meeting was a general 'heads-up' gathering to discuss potential budget cuts in the district. We presumed incorrectly; it was actually a classified employees' union cross-burning rally. A rally that degenerated frightfully into a teacher-bashing rant, because We think We're more important than classified staff because We have our "college educations" (their leader made air quotes when she said that - does that mean she thinks my degree is a sham? Not necessary? I was confused). I honestly started to feel like if I were identified as a teacher (and I saw a number of staff assistants & librarians there who know me; I sat very still and tried to actually become invisible), there would be gasps & shrieks & possibly a stoning.

I get very nervous when a union starts talking fast & loud. Essentially, I think the union is a positive organization for making sure people are treated fairly in their work situations; unfortunately it can easily become a hostile Us vs. Them exercise. When it comes to educational situations, my greatest concern is for the kids being served - obviously I enjoy a paycheck, and of course I realize some people rely on their paychecks to survive, but threatening to walk out of a job at the expense of children makes no sense to me. So I get wiggly & nervous about that stance, and the classified workers at tonight's meeting mentioned the possibility of striking if their positions are scheduled to be cut.

Again, I completely understand being upset about losing a job (hello!), but then their leader promised to inform the district that the classified employees "are the most important people in the district." That if they were not in the schools, children would not be getting a quality education. My heart was racing, I started sweating - partly because of the aforementioned stoning possibility, but mostly because I hate this game; it takes a village, people. Let's not argue about who is more or less necessary in our kids' lives - let's just do our best work during our time with them and discuss fair salaries at the end of the day.

I did reveal my secret identity to a few people as the meeting ended and was secretly bemused when their eyes widened and they flushed slightly. It tells me they don't really think we teachers are power hungry elitist monsters, and that's a relief. I don't like fighting.