A little while ago I read a timely, topical blog post worth reading: http://luminouspage.blogspot.com/2011/02/i-ruined-everything-why-it-was-more.html. I don't want to try to explain the post, I just want you to read it.
Thanks to http://mommyactivist.blogspot.com/ for posting the link to this essay. But in the meantime, I left this as part of my comments at the blog post I've linked above:
"This morning an editorial in my local paper (bemoaning the concept of tenure and last-hired, first-fired) made a comment about new young teachers having the energy, commitment, and training evidently (at least in the opinion of this editor) not found in those of us who've been teaching a long time (in my case, 34 years). Evidently the editor has never driven by my school at 6 or 7pm and seen the empty parking lot, except for my car and the custodian's car. Evidently the editor hasn't seen my elementary art room piled to the ceiling with recycled cardboard sculptures, papier-mache flying pigs, shredded paper clay hunks that look like hunks of cave wall, stacks of paintings, and so much more - and, oh - also hasn't spoken to the kids who choose to eat lunch in my room, who stay after school to scrub the sinks, who bring me the last and most special cupcake (no wonder I'm not so skinny any more) who tell me that art is their best time of the day. He hasn't seen me standing on a table trying to hang something from a ceiling, dragging in bags full of stuff for a crazy still life, shopping in the dollar store for toothpaste so I can use it for a crazy batik lesson, and blogging my evenings away with other art teachers when I finally get home to my husband. He says the young teachers have more ENERGY? Then why are they leaving school at 3:00pm? He says they are better TRAINED? Then I guess the experience gained from 34 years spent with kids with every problem and peculiarity imaginable is less valuable than a grad class where you learned the latest lingo? Don't get me wrong - I don't dislike the new young crop of teachers or discredit their education - as a matter of fact I give them massive kudos for choosing a profession that seems to be on everyone's "hit list" these days. But I too went through an era of job cuts and having to start over, and it doesn't mean that I should therefore be the first to go because I am a seasoned veteran and cost a little more to keep around."
I am very worried about what's going on in our country regarding the future of education, worker rights, and collective bargaining. It seems an evil wind is blowing from state to state, and if we close our eyes we will be too late to protect ourselves from it. If my child were planning to be a teacher I'd advise against it right now. The late and great education/union activist Al Shanker must be turning over in his grave at what's happening in our country.