The Poky Little Pundit

In the dark



I must admit, the PLP is feeling a bit down. A little blue. A little like the dregs at the bottom of my coffee cup. So small and brown and sad. It could be the astounding amount of cheese dip I consumed while watching the Super Bowl, or the weather in Seattle which, for the first time in six years, is finally plunging me headlong into utter despair. There’s a great line from a Patty Griffin song that goes like this: “I need a little place in the sun sometimes or I think I will die.” Yes.

I have to decide, like SOON, whether or not I am returning to teaching. So I am going to start today with a rather blunt statement: If taxpayers could find it within themselves to value education and therefore pay me a competitive wage, I would return to teaching with open arms. This does not make me a bad person (not for this reason anyway). In the NYT this Sunday, the infamous Michelle Rhee, whom I admire not for her ideas necessarily but for her drive to change things, said, “Teachers have integrity. And if money was the motivating factor, they wouldn’t be in education” (Click here for the whole thing).

Um, okay. I get this is meant to be a compliment, but truly, how dare anyone intimate that integrity will pay my bills? That teachers are morally above earning money for a job well done? Logic has never been my strong suit, which is how I can say I am seriously considering returning. What is it about teaching that draws so many thousands of quite talented people to an arguably dead end job? It can’t be simply the summer holidays (though that is significant, I admit.) The negatives are obvious, such as low wages, an inflexible schedule, high levels of stress, an overly emotional and changeable clientele, and a lack of respect on a nationwide level. But positives might outweigh all of these things: Spending the day with colleagues who argue about themes in Heart of Darkness over microwaved Amy’s meals; teenagers, whose energy and optimism are catching; reading and analyzing books all day; never, ever, ever being bored. What do you think, darling readers? Should I return?

This week, I met up with Progressive Majority WA director Noel Frame, who I previously mentioned was a candidate for the state legislature in my own 36th district. It still amazes me that knowledgeable people are willing to sit down with me and educate me on the political system for free. Just because they care. How awesome is that? People like Noel motivate me to carry on when my ignorance about politics threatens to shove me back to my past state of apathy.

She has also helped me to shape my goal for the week, which is to tune into – basically a way to keep abreast of what is happening in Olympia from the coziness of your living room sofa. I plan on tuning into the 15 minute Legislative Review, shown Monday through Thursday online. I’m particularly interested today to hear the outcome of SB 1457, regarding family and medical leave and SJM 8002, about campaign financing. Check it out tonight with me!


3 thoughts on “In the dark

  1. I am becoming anti teachers union. I think teaching should be like a.profession and not a trade. While the transition would suck, in the end it would likely improve respect and therefore pay. Check out Bill Gates annual letter. He talks about New, teacher authorized ways of giving teachers meaningful feedback….as opposed to test scores which is ruining your job. Meaningful career development is part of a profession.

    I think you should stay in politics and become a world renowned expert in the politics of public education.


  2. Thanks friend! I will check out Gates’ article. I am not sure yet what to think of his ideas, but love the fact that he is trying even after he has educated his own kids. How do they treat teachers in Oz? Curious.

  3. One of our son’s friends from high school is a Gates program teacher. I saw her on TV with him not long ago, and she was very passionate about her job and about classroom management. She had a well behaved classroom in NY City elementary school. You were lucky enough to have a job that never made you feel bored? Few people are lucky enough to ever find that in life. If you love your work, you never really feel as if you are working, though you can help so many. We need more good teachers like you today! I have already told you about how very dirty, frustrating, and unpredictable the world of politics can be. Ultimately, this is a decision you must make on your own if you are ever to be truly satisfied with the outcome though. Sorry the sun isn’t shining and that it has left you in a funk. Take some vitamin D if the doctor says you’re low, and it never hurts to eat walnuts and almonds every day. Great B vitamins to boost one’s mood in winter! I swear they all work. In either case, hugs from a dear auntie in the East.

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