The sad fact is that I’m too busy worrying about my day job.
Ah, the joys of being a young teacher. My school district finds itself in a bit of a levy bind… which means, if the taxpayers aren’t feeling generous in a few weeks, I can kiss my job goodbye. It’s a little thing we like to call “reduction in force,” (RIF) and in my neck of the woods it’s done entirely by seniority. Merit doesn’t matter. It’s a slap in the face to realize that I’ve been working my butt off for nothing. The disillusioned tenure jockey who hates children and flunks a third of his class? Totally safe from budget cuts… and he already makes $10,000 a year more than I do. But I’m young and idealistic, so I’m toast.
I know that every cloud has a silver lining. Truly, I do. I think if I lose my teaching job I won't wear myself out looking for another one. I’ll substitute, I’ll ponder my graduate school options (hello, history PhD program!), and I’ll write. It might actually end up being better for my long-term ambitions.
So what's the problem? I guess I’m just generally depressed, because many people in my community have been responding with such vitriol to the whole levy discussion.
Yeah, I’m a bleeding-heart teacher type. I’d gladly open my meager pocket book so that we can keep things like librarians and art in our schools (call me crazy, but I think librarians are important). At the same time, I can appreciate any reasoned and respectful viewpoint, even if it’s different from my own. Some people planning to vote no have articulated valid reasons for their choice. That’s great; that’s democracy.
But unfortunately, reactionary cruelty seems to be our general modus operandi… at least when it comes to online discussion. This is typical of many of the bloggers in my community (here responding to the prediction that the levy will pass): “how can it be the NO voters r in the minority? Gosh must be teachers counting the votes wrong? Folks will vote yes when Johnny can read and add! There is a very OLD saying out there, people whom can do people whom can't teach, seems nothing has change this last 20 years!”
I could focus on the misquoting of the old adage, which is actually, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach." Or I could focus on the irony of someone failing to use proper grammar while they bemoan “Johnny’s” inability to read and add correctly. I could also ask how cutting funding and mocking teachers is going to enable (or inspire) anyone in the education system to do a better job than they’re doing right now. Call me crazy, but I’m not motivated by punishment and derision.
Still, I’m not going to focus on any of those things. I’m just going to ask: why do some people think that it’s okay to abandon common courtesy when they’re commenting online? And why do teachers get so much flak? I know there are lousy teachers out there (see tenure jockey, above). But there are lousy people in every profession. That’s no reason to sneer at a whole group!
I just want to say to some of these bloggers, “I respect that your vote may render me unemployed. But please do me the same courtesy. Respect that, while I have my job, I’m honestly doing the best I can to teach your child. I am a highly capable person and I chose this profession. Let me have some dignity.”
Am I alone in thinking we could use a little online etiquette? And just how do I get my mind off things I can’t control? Let me know what you think!