Wednesday, June 23, 2010

When information doesn't match up with reality

Justice and Truth. Let's have some of that please.

Ok. Here's the thing. I've been reading articles, and listening to NPR and the like, and all of them are touting things like, "US education jobs are on the rise!" "There's going to be a great demand for teachers in the next few years!"

Except that many of these articles were written pre-2007. Well, a few years have passed since then. What happened? Sure, the recession happened. And many teachers are deciding not to retire just yet. And budgets got cut. And even the good, veteran teachers, loyal to their district and school for neigh on 10 years have their jobs threatened.

But still. I don't get it. Those articles were saying things were good, and will probably get better. Were they just wrong in their predictions? Is there something they didn't see, that no one saw? And, my most pressing question: why on earth are those "decent job outlook" statistics still floating around in the 2009 US Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook? Shouldn't they be more honest and say instead, "Right now, we are all screwed?"

I'm starting to hate hope. Hope disappoints. Realism prepares you for action.

I think the one thing I'm most annoyed at is that I'm being told - by interviewers, professors, colleagues, the media, politicians, non-education people and education people alike - that students NEED teachers like me. Students need teachers who are energetic, and have new ideas, and revamp the old ones to make it work for the generation growing up now, and are creative, and hard working, and CHEAP. I know students need teachers like me, and all the wonderfully talented and qualified teachers out there. Teachers with potential to grow and develop the craft into sophistication. Because let's face it, not matter how many Smart Boards get made and implemented, the profession of teaching has not changed all that much since even the time of Socrates.

So we're needed. We're wanted. BUT THERE IS NO PLACE FOR US. No solid space, on solid ground, without the fear of having it be taken away by spring time and the hunt for a professional home starts all over again. No security of not having to stress about my own future, as well as the future of my students. Not even a promise that IF (and that's a big IF) we find a place, that we'll be treated fairly, that we won't have to buy our own teaching supplies, that we won't have our classroom roofs leaking onto our students heads bent over shared textbooks because for some reason there's only 25 of the brand new expensive math books that really didn't need to be replaced for a class of 35. It really is like Dorothy, wandering this beautiful, awe-inspiring place called The Oz of Ed where magical miracles and attacks from flying monkeys can happen all in one school day. Yet, there is no place like that elusive home.

Well. I shouldn't say there is NO place. There are places to grow, students to teach, and a profession to practice and hone. It's just that I've used a lot of resources to get this damn credential in the first place, and the moment it lands in my hands is when it's being taken away from me again.

Some can say it's not that bad. I would say it too. But I'm not very good at letting go of things (*ahem*thepastthreeyears*ahem*). I've only got myself to blame for that one. So what that in five years my credential expires into smoke and glitter if I don't find a full-time position in Cali? So what that the documentation for two years worth of post-graduate work literally dissipates faster than valley smog? Just because I don't have the paper doesn't mean it's not in my head, and on my hands, and in my heart.

But what did I get this credential for? Why did I jump through all those maddening hoops (see tag: CA credentialing), use up all that tuition money from my own pocket, and get this far, this close and STILL have nothing to show for it? That's the truth, so where's the justice?

I guess what I really should be asking is why am I not brave enough to abandon what I've earned in order to gain something else. Perhaps more? Certainly different. Do I have the courage to leave this stinking credential behind - a credential that is fast becoming more like a burden than a stepping-stone - to pursue....what? I'll still be teaching. So does having a credential even matter? If it doesn't matter, then why on earth did I get it in the first place?

And why, WHY does a credential expire? Does knowledge expire? Does experience expire? HELL NO! WHY is that stupid 5-year deadline in place, set by the government and the school system, when said government and school system CAN'T PROVIDE THE JOBS TO MEET THAT DEADLINE?


Maybe they need me. But I don't need this.


Anonymous said...

Deb-chan here! ^-^/

Sounds like you already touched on what I was going to say, but I'll say it anyway: Did you really throw all that time earning your credential away, or was the journey valuable enough in and of itself?

In my life, it seems God often tells me to head towards a certain goal, but He never intended for me to actually get there. I was just supposed to head in that direction, learn stuff in the process, then start heading in an entirely different direction. It's kind of like navigating using the stars, or getting on the freeway towards Los Angeles, even though you don't actually intend to go AAALLL the way to LA. (Or rather, you thought you did, but then God said, "Ok, now take the next exit...")

That being said, I want you to know you've got it right. The schools really DO need you, and they're treating you beyond shittily, and don't deserve you. Crap like this is precisely why I desperately want to home-school my own children when the time comes.

And you never know, a couple years down the road, they may realize they've screwed themselves treating too many potential teachers the way they've treated you and declare that you don't hafta do anything over again and can just move forward from where you left off.

My dad says that the teaching supply/demand comes and goes, and if you hit it at the right time, you can get an emergency credential with nothing but a bachelor's degree and teach on that alone for years! Sadly, now is the opposite of that time, but when that time cycles around again, I'm sure you'll totally out-shine the competition, if you want to give these ass-holes another chance at the amazingness that is you.

And also, thank you so much for all this blogging. It weighed in on my decision not to pursue a credential, and your stories and current situation have made me feel more confident in my decision. The schools don't deserve either of us, and you are incredibly self-less for offering yourself anyway.

Good luck on the other side of the ocean! ^-^/ Any chance you'll make a SoCal trip before you depart? (~'.')~

bun2bon said...

haha, thanks deb!

I've wondered too, several times, why I want to do this. In the end for me, it's about finding it fun. And it is fun. the politics are not, however.

I know most of it is about being unlucky in the timing - but I wonder too sometimes. I wonder if it is really me, and am I as good as I think I am. My bosses have a good opinion of my teaching, and I suppose they are to be trusted. I guess I shouldn't compare myself with other people.

Hedgetoad said...

I had the same thoughts in 2004 and did manage to get a job in August, just before the year started. However, it seemed like everyone else was getting hired and I was always the "third interview" (the one required to make the process all legal and stuff). The job I found was not in my target area to live, but all in all it's turned out really well.

The problem with the statistics is that they looked ages for retirement... not costs. And I've always thought that there isn't a shortage of teachers, there is a shortage of places teachers want to work. What schools are always hiring like mad? There is a reason they need warm bodies and it's not huge increases of students.

bun2bon said...

yeesh. I hope the places I'm applying to aren't like that. although it would be a nice challenge to be at a school like that and do something positive for the moral/students/staff.

it's one of my greatest fears that I'll burn out and just quit. I do as much as I can to prevent that, but still, it's hard to predict those things sometimes.