Mr. Paine. All you people don’t know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for, and he fought for them once, for the only reason any man ever fights for them: Because of one plain simple rule: Love thy neighbor. And in this world today, full of hatred, a man who knows that one rule has a great trust. You know that rule, Mr. Paine. And I loved you for it just as my father did, and you know that you fight for the lost causes harder than for any others. Yes, you even die for them, like a man we both know, Mr. Paine. You think I’m licked. You all think I’m licked. Well, I’m not licked, and I’m gonna stay right here and fight for this lost cause, even if this room gets filled with lies like these! [takes a handful of the letters in the basket and throws them on the floor]. When the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place, somebody’ll listen to me!
-from “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”. An apt quote about the cause of public education, but when it comes time for a teacher to retire, the cause remains just as it was when you began it. But the hope is there, with each generation that would return the talisman to its owner.
My next post will be less referential, for those not a fan of Steinbeck or Mr. Smith.
“Public employee retirement spikes in New Mexico” said the Associated Press on January 2nd as 1, 520 more employees retired December 2011 than in December of 2002. The education retirement board is one of the two sources of public employee retirement in New Mexico, and the article leaves a sense of mystery around why that is. No teachers were interviewed for the article. Why don’t people ask teachers these things, why are teachers among the last invited for input on things that affect them, like this or public policy? We all grew up with teachers, having to listen to them. All of us had a teacher (at least one) who shouldn’t have had the job. We don’t want to hear from them anymore. Much of the public or public policy lump all teachers there.
Many teachers I know, however, in fact most of them, are just the type that you’d want to hear from. Smart, caring people. I’d like to identify with the latter, so I’ll throw my two cents in. Not only because I care, but because I had a co-worker who just retired this December after 37 years of service, who felt like the retirement was not on her “own terms”, I thought I could offer some ideas about that.
This has not been a typical “changing of the guard” which annually advances new people in the field and pushes others to retirement. This tide has come with a storm of paperwork and public perception which the call to accountability carries in tow. That paperwork has reared back around, as anyone who has a child with an IEP will tell you, and in our school has introduced a sense of formality that impedes the relationship that we used to have, imposes forms where conversations were more easily had. This formality may have the opposite effect than is intended, and alienate people more rather than help them to freely communicate with the people who work with their children every day.
There are paper dragons to battle with there. There is also a confusion, almost a sad pun, over what standards are. More to come. Stay tuned.