A few days ago some refined soul pleaded for decorum and good deportment in one of the Teacher's groups I haunt on Facebook. It was the prototypical call for decency that some folks, for whatever reason, seem to feel obliged to make in the heat of a moment. Myself I am not wired that way. If there's an exchange, and in my book this war with the privatizing scum of ed reform could well be the exchange of my professional career, my instincts tell me not to give a sucker a break. But I realize some of my colleagues are made of different stuff and I know as well as anyone that it takes all kinds. I wasn't tickled especially with the way the guy directed his finger wagging speech at everyone in the group and I had to admit, his outrage with "name calling" struck me as somewhat disingenuous if not downright lame. Apparently someone had referred to Sheriff Andy Cuomo as "a bum." Really ? a bum? And that required an overhead lecture to anyone in the area that this guy joined the group to work towards a better world and stop the blah blah blah. O.k. I admit by now it's starting to irk me just a whisker. But what came next is what sent me over the edge against prissy, snotty Ohhhh I am soooo smart cause I am a teaaaaacccher types. The next clown chimes in "They want to be treated like Literati but they act like Teamsters." (insert maginary snotty eyeroll here)
So what the fuck is that supposed to mean? I wanted to say but since I wasn't on my own blog and I must remember to eschew the blue speak in certain forums I said it in middle class-ese. So does that imply that you are somehow a station above Teamsters? I think I said but I wanted to say what I said just now. As a union member from a union family and as someone who worked with tradesmen when I needed time off from college I always held them in high regard especially in the not taking any shit department. Case in Point: Up at Beaver Creek near Vail in the Spring of 1981 I was working as a laborer for the Laborer's Local #720 based in Denver. A new carpenter foreman addressed one of my brother laborers, a guy with a huge moustache and beady eyes and a pawtucket accent you could toss a buffalo through in a tone of voice you'd save for the paperboy or your little brother. "Watch those forms," he snapped, " I don't wanna see any scratches on the faces." "What did you just say?" Mikey asked, his eyes growing beadier. "Ah you tawkin to me wit that tone muthafucka?" The new guy, trying to brazen his way through it said without looking at him, "I said be careful of those forms." "Cah-ful? did you say? Be fuckin cahful? Oh I am gonna be reaaaal cah-ful," Mikey said nodding his head slowly. He picked up an 8 foot concrete form, lifted it over his head and launched it into a hole about 6 feet deep. "How's that?" he yelled. He then repeated the process with about 3 more 8 footers slamming them on top of each other in the hole with an amazing echoing crash of plywood and steel. When he finished, he took his gloves off and stuck them in his back pocket. Then he shot a look at the bewildered carpenter boss who by now had gone magenta from his neck to his earlobes. "S-I-R-O-I-S is how you spell it if you wanna go write something down. Just don't spell it wrong. Be Cah-ful. O.k?" Mikey chuckled as he strolled away confident he had made his point. It was truly a spectacle and a power play and one the putative "boss" never saw coming until it was too late. There was no way anyone was going to fire Mike. He was too reliable, he was smart, he worked his ass off and he was tough as Pawtucket makes them. There was no way he was going to allow some redneck from Oklabraska with a belt buckle the size of a garbage can lid and shitkicker boots to sass him that way in front of his guys. In a word it was badass.
Of course we dwellers of the chalk belt aren't at liberty to express ourselves with such testosterone fueled fury in the workplace nor should we really. But we could really use some of that spirit and could have used it all along as these traps were being set and we were slowly being maneuvered into a corner with the help of our own union leadership who somehow seemed to think they could successfully adopt a policy of appeasement against our enemies. They went along with bogus APPR agreements, they allowed asinine Danielson metrics, they said O.K. to VAM Measures and in Newark no less of a Union Concessionaire Extraordinaire than AFT President Randi Weingarten herself negotiated a merit pay scheme that Chris Christie said was his most gratifying day in office. Should Christie leave a negotiation with a Union President feeling euphoric ? Yeah I don't think so either. But for now we have Randi and Dick Ianuzzi talking shit against Common Core. Mind you they're still not talking about dumping this dog of an idea but rather they speak of moratoriums and "getting it right." By getting it right those of us bound to torture kids with this bullshit mean throw it overboard. They mean let's just take our time with it and somehow age inappropriate standards and Mesopotamia for Kindergarten kids will seem more reasonable at a leisurely clip. As teachers we can never get too far away from the civilized, the proper and correct, I get that, it's part of the package. But every so often I'd like to see Mike from Rhode Island turned loose at one of these Common Core snore-a-thons just to show the Empress and her little wooden boy how the other half lives. Teachers can learn a lot from Teamsters.