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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What The Market Will Bear (A Rant)

Why is Michael Vick worth 10 mil a year?

And I am only worth 5 figures (and low ones at that)?

Why does he have even the remotest possibility of working again in his field?

And even if he is not rehired by the NFL - he's made a fortune (if he managed it correctly) and needn't work at all. But he will no doubt work at something. He'll make tons of dough. He'll peddle his story; he'll crop up on talk shows and as some sort of "expert." He may even play the mea culpa game and become the new darling of the masses.

Yet I worry that due to budget cuts, I may not get all my classes in the fall - thus reducing my income (and potentially eliminating my health benefits).

Why is that?

It's what the market will bear. Capitalism tells us that an athlete, even a tarnished athlete,is worth far, far more than a teacher.

What does that tell us about capitalism? Our value system?

I was at my family's reunion over the weekend, and once again had to listen to one family member knock my profession.

I hear this all the time: You knew it was a low-paying job when you took it. If you're stupid enough to do that job for that kind of money -then that's what you deserve.

And what if I, and others like me, took our brains (for yes, we are the intellectually elite) and our education (yes, we are highly educated) and left academia. What if we walked out full force - all of us - from K-12 and through the postsecondary ed system - just walked out?

Who would teach the nurses? The politicians? The other teachers? The business moguls? The administrative assistants? The government workers? The market analysts? The stock brokers? The mortgage brokers? The business managers?

And don't tell me that clearly, we did a lousy job educating some of those folks (just look at the mess we're in now, you'll say - didn't educators educate the people who caused this mess?). We don't teach morals and values (contrary to what the far-right seems to think - that we do teach such things and of course teach the WRONG ones). I teach my students to think, to examine, to explore -and come to their own decisions. Some of them do well with that; others ... turn into scumbags. But they were really scumbags before they walked through the door of my classroom.

What would the city, county, state, country do if all the underpaid and under-valued educators walked out?

Where would your capitalist and what-the-market-will-bear attitude be then?


Blogger Ardlair said...


I think the problem lies not with the profession, but with the expectations surrounding it.

Many teachers ( educators to you) end up taking on teaching that should be done outside the classroom..........because no-one else is doing it.

And where are the parents?

I know....they are complaining.
Either that someone taught their kids something that they shouldn't have, or that someone didn't teach their kids something they should.

No win.

Blog on.


March 31, 2009 3:59 PM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

Here I was having a really calm evening responding to emails, reading blogs and making comments. All was going well and then I checked in on this posting.


I'm not sure how much capitalism is at fault. It ain't completely blameless.

I'm not sure how much Christianity or other religions are at fault. They ain't completely blameless.

I am sure that parents have a big impact on this issue. They share much of the blame, until you recognize that many of them have a difficult time making ends meet. Unless those who are in the high income bracket who teach their children the value of conning their parents into giving them everything they demand.

Teachers/professors are placed in the de facto position of teach the values of Serving others, caring about those you serve and share the love in your heart/soul.

All we can do is press on do our part to spread the word about service.

I know you are doing more than your share. I just hope you can continue.

I will refrain from saying anything about a family member who hasn't learned the lesson yet. Hopefully that person will very soon. Perhaps a dope slap will help. Nah, not a chance. It would be in bad form anyway.

Keep up your good works.

April 01, 2009 4:37 PM  
Blogger boneman said...

I look at it as a simple case of there's just so much availiable.
I wrote a piece on it, and didn't think the piece so bad. (http://www.humortimes.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=76)
thing is, and teachers included, I think a clean cap of a million dollars a year would do our nation a great deal of good.
(about a thousand really pissed off folks who are cleaning up five million-twenty billion a year, though. 700 folks make more than a billion a year and a fair amount of them make more than five bilion.)
million dollar incomes at a time when there is so little to spread so far....the gist of my bit being that a million dollars equals $50000 a year for twenty years.

Of course, I'm not too popular with the 'capitalist' bunch, anymore.
I see a place where free trade can co-exist with good pay and social conscience, and for whatever reason, have been declared a socialist.

Well, screw that.
It doesn't take a lot of math to figure out why so many folks are unemployed.
What will be interesting is, later, how those rich bastards get their plumbing working good again.

As in, someday it will back up on their greedy butts! And, while I have put away my guillotine,I am NOT beyond getting a good laugh.

April 01, 2009 7:53 PM  
Blogger The Real Mother Hen said...

Jack K pointed me to this site. Oh you said it so well.

In the ancient Chinese society, farmers and teachers are extremely well respected, the least on the line is businessmen. There was a saying, "once you're a teacher, you become the parent of your student". And students are taught to respect the teacher as their parents. Of course today it is a different story. People all want to worship business tycoons and sports athletes - regardless how greedy and rotten they are. Teachers? Nah, they are to be taken for granted.

April 02, 2009 7:59 AM  
Blogger Bird said...

I was in a very bad mood when I wrote this posting (gee - ya think?). I appreciate the support from all commenters. I take this too seriously sometimes. But of course, I get weary of the low pay and hard work - and the lack of true appreciation from our society as a whole. California State University system is facing another huge cut in funding. My students pay ever increasing tuition, but get less for it. And the CSU was once the model of higher ed for the masses in this country. We are still the largest public university system in the country - perhaps even in the world. And our budget is continually slashed - we are continually forced to operate with less and less funding. Crazy.

Ooops - I went off on another rant. Think I'll go back to poetry - better for my blood pressure!!!!

April 02, 2009 8:09 AM  
Blogger firebird said...

Bird--I don't think you were being unnecessarily gloomy--you're just telling it like it is!
I think there are two causes--one, teaching was for decades the only acceptable professional job for women. This made it automatically a low-paying job. Two, the political groups in power during the last several years knew that ignorant people were more likely to vote for them. I believe this is was always the intention of "No Child Left Behind"--to avoid teaching children to think!
I find it interesting that when Obama speaks of funding education as a priority, he says it is "to make our workers competitive on the world market"--as if making it a capitalist motivation would be more appealing!

April 03, 2009 9:36 AM  
Blogger Jack K. said...

bird, I applaud you and your devotion to your calling. We need more folks like you in lots of different places.

After watching the President and his Mrs. in Europe, I am heartened about our future.

This AM at the Old Bastard's weekly coffee, one of the more conservative members was heaping accolades on the President's town hall meeting in Europe. I had to sit down to keep from falling over. I did mention that it was refreshing for a change. lol

April 03, 2009 11:01 AM  
Blogger boneman said...

...anyway, even if someday you want to have a rant? Say you want the USA to honor women the same way Canada does?
Heck, spill your guts, gal!
This is America! If that clown Bob Basso can scream at us and call us sheep, well, you can by God have your own say, too!
(and, actually, I'de rather it were you...)
In fact, the next time I write to President Obama, I'm going to put in a good word for you and ALL teachers!


April 03, 2009 8:36 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

What a piece!

As you can imagine, I agree with everything, every single thing you expressed.

As a parent when I found a 'good' teacher I worshipped the ground they walked on.
What made a 'good' teacher to me?
One who loved their work, who respected the children, who was flexible enough to know that what helps one kid learn may not get through another.
A 'good' teacher relies on parents to let them know what is happening at home and joins in the job of helping the child in learning, not just academic subjects but learning about social behaviour etc.
A good teacher has a great sense of humour and understands that 'silence' in the class room does NOT mean someone is learning something.
A good teacher not only communicates with the child and the other staff but the parents and trusts the parent who wants to be involved.

A good teacher is worth their weight in gold and all those corporate wankers, all those 'celebrity' sports people, all those pretend humans who sell their souls on telly or to the religious idiots are worth zip.

You are my idol.
You are worth security of tenure, freedom to teach as you see fit, money to give you good breaks so you come back refreshed and raring to go, and you are worth respect.

So there!

April 05, 2009 10:26 PM  

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