I get a lot of flack because I am, without reservation, an old-school feminist and have been since I learned the word back in third grade. I’m so feminist that I object vehemently to those who PRETEND to be feminists extolling “old-fashioned family values”, “morality clauses”, “stripping makes me a feminist”, and “anything a woman does makes her a feminist.” Uhm, no. F*ck no.
As such, the entire time I’ve been a teacher I’ve been amazed to see how many of my colleagues, most women mind you, sit back and act as if they have nothing, absolutely nothing to bring to the table. They accept the status quo the way others might accept the weather — might as well enjoy it ’cause you can’t change it. I’m talking the kind of gentility that wouldn’t say shit if it had a mouth full of it.
And truly, I met teachers who returned to teaching or became teachers because their life’s ambition was to be a mom. As such, they wanted a job that made it easy to be a mom. Honestly as a mom and a teacher, I can tell you I would have NEVER picked teaching as a career that made it easy to be a mom. In fact, my husband, no joke, is a much better mom than I am. He was there the first day of kindergarten, he volunteered at our son’s school, he was an active community member, and I was greeted with, “We don’t know you Ma’am. Are you here to pick up someone’s child?” Yes, the school KNEW my husband, but as far as they were concerned my son had no mother.
This makes the argument about mothers being teachers all the more absurd. If you want a job that simple, easy, and doesn’t tax you, you work retail or something. Teaching is a career, and I can say that women who live and teach this way are KILLING the rest of us.
As long as society ties teaching and motherhood together, we have a problem. If the general public thinks we’re pulling short hours so we can go home to be with our families, we have a problem. If the community in general assumes we went into teaching because we love children, we really have a problem. If they think teachers just work to pay for the extras, then we are royally f*cked.
One of the key reasons so many politicians are trying to break our unions is because teachers with these attitudes won’t FIGHT back. They will most likely just quit and return to being taken care of by their husbands. However, those of us who WON’T quit, aren’t women (because there are a good many male teachers), and are heads of household will now be working double and triple time to keep our positions. While life balance was probably never there to begin with, it will be gone.
I’m serious about that. We visited a school that had turned around and was making it. Those teachers BUSTED ASS. Every last one of them lived, breathed, and bleed that school. The principal did as well. However, he noted the human cost. He called his school the divorce school. The teachers put so much into the school, there was nothing left to give at home. He did remark, with gallows humor as only those of us in the ranks can appreciate, that at least his school wasn’t the cancer school. That was another school in the district making huge gains.
Let’s be real honest and REAL REAL about this.
FIRST: I am not a teacher because I love children. I happen to like them, which helps. However, I love my job. I’m good at what I do. And I think it’s the best job I’ve ever had.
SECOND: I would teach for free, if I were obscenely rich. However, I’m not. I need a living wage. Straight up I take home, after taxes, dues, and retirement, around $3300 a month. Our mortgage is $3000 a month. It’s pretty clear a two-income household is necessary for home ownership in a good area. I am FORTUNATE that I have a second income. However, should the wives and husbands of teachers have to pay for their spouses to work?
THIRD: I am not that sweet, liberal, or loving. I want more and better. Pay and benefits are part of that. As long as it’s viewed that this is covered elsewhere in my life, I won’t get them from my job. Let’s be clear here, if education were 75% male, these issues WOULD NOT BE HAPPENING. How do I know that? Because every time there is a union needing BUSTED in the last 20 years, it’s not police or fire. Teachers don’t have those kinds of sexy benefits that allow us to quit at 55 with 90% of our income. Yet, we’re considered the drain on society.
I honestly think that because teachers tend to be non-confrontational, view themselves as apolitical, and undervalue themselves, that allows policy makers think it’s OK to mess with us. After all, it’s just a bunch of women. However, we need to keep reminding ourselves of Hopper and his gang. Remember, “Those ants outnumber us 100:1. If they ever figure that out, there goes our way of life. This is not about food. This is about keeping those ants down.”
In short, this is NOT about educational achievement. It’s about teaching those TEACHERS a lesson and making sure they know their place.
Like good little girls….
Yeah, well let me be the first to say, I’m NOT that kind of girl.