Got a call from the teacher's union rep. She and a lawyer from NYSUT have been arguing a grievance on my behalf. Last year, upper management sent word from the big house out to our teacher shacks on the north forty saying that despite the contract, we are no longer allowed to take more than seven days off each year. I took ten last year, got taken to the woodshed (a counseling memo placed in my file), and grieved that. Everyone who hears this figures we will win. It's in the contract for heaven's sake. I know better. Management doesn't lose especially when it comes to administering beatings until morale improves.
Of course the arbitrator found in management's favor.
If anyone asks why I'm quitting this job soon, here's your answer. It's why I want to get out of teaching. I'm tired of plantation life where I am expected to show up, shut up, and put up with anything. Management pays lip service to respecting teachers, but actions trump words. Upper management won't allow us the benefits of a contract. Here I thought this was New York State but it's Wisconsin or worse.
Union leadership is upset about this. The person who told me of the decision figured I would be upset too. I suppose I am but I don't give that much of a damn any more. The job is a paycheck and health insurance, a limited-term gig, and I'm counting the days until I run away.
One person in upper management declares that the extreme teacher turnover in our schools is a result of how well management trains us. That gives me a good laugh as I try to imagine other school districts sending head hunters to lure us away from paradise. In eighteen years on this plantation I've yet to hear of any teacher lured away like that. Instead, I watch people get out in the middle of the night, running as fast as they can, hitching a ride underground, and never looking back. The only regret any of them have is for teachers left behind, but they keep running. We have to save ourselves.
So far, I have yet to be approached by another school district for the exquisite training management had delivered. Instead, I'm pursued by management, treated like a cheap possession that can be easily replaced. Soon enough they'll have the chance to replace me. Night is falling. The contract is no protection. Management is coming down with a bullwhip. It's time to run.