Friday, June 04, 2021

The Good Blues in a Bad Year

Like most people, there are few things I enjoy more than a good sulk. Naturally, after finding out there was no early retirement incentive, I've been devoting a lot of time to feeling sorry for myself and sitting sullenly in various dark corners. I've acquired a Bill de Blasio voodoo doll, which is a fairly good stress reliever, except it's so tall it doesn't easily fit anywhere. 

But this has been a year like none of us have ever seen. Who could have imagined that a pandemic would essentially shut down the world? (Obama and his staff, did actually, and Trump tossed their plans for it in the trash.) And yet that's what happened. Now it was bad that we didn't get the ERI, but not as bad as I've seen it portrayed elsewhere on the net. What's the worst that will happen? You work another year, and with the increase in pay your pension will be close to what it could've been. Or retire now with a little less money, if you like. 

Here's the thing--the reason we didn't get the incentive was that the city was no longer broke. Weigh that against having the incentive, and the possibility of layoffs despite fewer senior teachers to pay. Weigh that against a budget emergency. Imagine being shuffled around to another school to teach 50 kids. Imagine clauses of the Collective Bargaining Agreement being overridden by a budget emergency.

I've heard these things described by teachers older than I am (and yes, there ARE teachers older than I am, thank you very much). This would be a disaster for public education, and a disaster for the city. When I weigh that against my personal issue of having to go to work, the ERI doesn't seem like such a terrible loss. Sometimes in life a person has to make the supreme sacrifice and go to work. There's just no way around it.  

If Biden had not won,  we'd still have Trump, and we'd still have the ERI. However, we'd have left a pretty awful mess for those who follow in our footsteps. I'd rather see the bigoted, juvenile execrable Big Orange sulking in sweltering Florida, even if it means I'm doing a little New York sulking myself. We can't raise our children well with a self-serving, self-centered, self-important lunatic as the number one role model.

That's not our sole good fortune, though. Go ahead and criticize me, and go ahead and criticize UFT leadership to your heart's content. The fact is we were very lucky to weather this worldwide disaster as well as we did. Businesses all over the country failed, millions of Americans lost work, and Donald Trump did not give a golly gosh darn about any of them. Biden isn't perfect, but he's head and shoulders better than the would-be fascist, still spouting delusions about being "reinstated" after having lost by six million votes. Now I won't contest the fact that he won the 2016 election by every possible measure (except votes cast, of course).

Here's another thing you may not know. A lot of us received accommodations this year and were able to teach from home. That, in itself, is remarkable, and a few decades ago would have been impossible. There would be no Zooming on AOL, or with no internet. I was contacted by teachers outside of NYC, and for them accommodations consisted of rooms with bigger windows, or some other such nonsense. 

I also know a lot of teachers who complain about technology. How can they make us do this? Well, the alternative is to be without work altogether. I love technology, for the most part. However, I really do not like teaching remotely. Everything I love about this job is in the real classroom, seeing real people.

That said, I am extremely grateful we had these options, and very lucky to have been able to take advantage. Could things be better? Of course they could. Things can always be better.

Let's work to make them that way. (For those of us who remember Bloomberg less than fondly, a good start will be this--Don't rank Yang or Adams.)

PS--Don't rank Garcia either.

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