In solidarity with Scranton's teachers

Since February I’ve been writing 3 columns a week here. One column a week is free. So that’s this one. If you’re interested in becoming a subscriber, I’d love to have you. I ask for $5 a month.

Virtually every teacher I had, and every teacher I know, has been selfless.

They work. Tirelessly. For the kind of wages that should make their administrators blush, but too often doesn't.

We keep expecting more and more from them. We expect them, literally, to take a bullet for our children. We expect them to deal with the sort of behavioral issues that have already put us parents into therapy, and to do so on a rotating basis. Each year a new crop of neuroses and personalities, a new line-up of bullies and dreamers and strivers and achievers and dead-enders and kids whose lethargy might simply be because they don't get enough to eat. All of this must be diagnosed and dealt with instantly, like a computer intaking variables. Teaching is what teachers do when they are done doing (and being) everything else.

No profession gets trolled more. NEPA has never been known for its intellect. All you need to say is "Talkback 16" and eyes will roll all over the valley. But there's something about teachers demanding what some of us already have that sends the stupids into fits of withering, grammatically incorrect, misspelled rage. These are often the very parents of the kids teachers secretly want to run over in the parking lot every morning....so it's like the circle of life for morons. Teachers heroically put up with these chuds at parent-teacher conferences, and do their best to knock the chud-iness out of their offspring. It's a delicate dance that deserves a contract, at the very least.

"I WISH I HAD SUMMER'S OFF!".....so goes the last shriek.....the card pulled when you realize that you've been attempting to knee-cap those on the front lines of our nation's future, but don't have the mental capacity to stop yourself. How teachers are able to not just walk around punching people in the face all day is something that deserves well-funded research.

(And if some of the benefits teachers get are BETTER than yours, ask yourself why you’re pissed at them and not the company YOU work for. I can answer that. Because you’re an asshole.)

But those administrators, eh?

School boards and the like. Some undoubtedly sit there with good intentions. They want to fight the good fight. Unfortunately, they're frequently drowned out by the political hacks.....the ones who 'know a guy who knows a guy' and end up banning "Catcher in the Rye" and Mark Twain. A lot of these people aren't qualified to carry a lunch board outside a sandwich shop, and yet here we are. Them sitting up there like a B-movie hanging judge, giving themselves and their cronies raises and great benefits while gaveling the $30k third grade teacher to be quiet when she asks about why she’s making the same she was 4 years ago, and has to constantly go out-of-pocket for her own classroom supplies.

Last night's board of education meeting in Scranton was an appalling shit show. A teeming cauldron of administrative arrogance and contempt for, ultimately, our own children. AND theirs. At one point the former mayor of Scranton had his mic cut, lest his eloquent defense of teachers gain TOO much traction. For much of the night much of the board (again, NOT all) sat there vacantly playing on their phones, not even pretending to be engaged. An act made even more outrageous because it was the night before the election. What they count on is apathy, nepotism, and the Talkback 16 crowd. And all too often they hit the trifecta.

Maybe it will be different this time?

Teachers don't serve the board. The board serves the teachers.

I've heard 100 stories of teachers changing lives. Not a single one about a fucking school board member.

I don't pretend to have the answers here. I realize the city is perpetually broke. Seemingly every few years outside auditors are brought in to make sense of Scranton's books, and end up fleeing in terror after leaving a note on the Mayor's desk that says (I may be paraphrasing a bit) "You're Fucked". But guess what? That's not the kindergarten teacher's fault, so stop screwing her over it. She has a master's degree and is deep 6 figure debt and you're paying her $37k a year. She could make more packing boxes at Chewy, but she's devoted her life to the children of this city. Your children. Save your raise. Give it to her.

Teachers give and give and give. They give until it hurts. Part of the routine now is active shooter drills, in which they barricade your children against danger, and huddle with them in case they need that final layer of protection. More like soldiers in a war. Each time we hear of these horrors, more heroes emerge. Teachers. And everyone gives thanks and praise. And thoughts and prayers.

And then these same people wonder how they're going to pay for their child's insulin, and you forget all that and scream "Jesus, you only work until 2:30!" (which is silly of course…..2:30 is when they have lunch and then start shift II)

A good friend of mine is married to a Scranton teacher.

As of 12:01am, neither they nor their 6 children will have health insurance.

They have a 6 month child who had an appointment tomorrow for wellness shots. They had to cancel.

True to form, the family shared with me their concern for others, not themselves.

“Imagine having necessary surgery scheduled”, they said to me.

But then again, I expected that from a teacher.

I stand in solidarity with Scranton’s teachers. And their union.

We must hang together or surely we will all hang separately.

—Ben Franklin

In a bit…

—tf