“Those teachers that are responsible and are doing their job, those teachers that sacrifice their families and themselves for the children they serve are going to be protected. Those that are not good, better get a job at McDonalds.” — Carmen E. Arroyo, 84th District
Those teachers that sacrifice their families and themselves for their jobs will be protected, those who do not should work in McDonalds.
So says Carmen Arroyo.
I've heard education reformers say a lot of insulting things over the years about teachers and teaching, but I don't think anything I have ever heard anything from a deformer that quite matches what Arroyo said this week for sheer heartlessness and thoughtlessness.
Teachers must sacrifice their families for their jobs?
What are we, Christ figures?
I know it's Good Friday and all, but what the hell is this idea that the only way we can expect job protections is if we "sacrifice" our families and ourselves in the service of our students?
Is Ms. Arroyo aware that teachers are already giving above and beyond the call of duty for their students?
I work very hard at my job and I would do almost anything to help my students succeed.
Over the years, I have helped students with their financial aid, I have helped students with their taxes, I have gone to colleges to advocate for students over a variety of matters, from getting "independent status" because their homophobic parents had thrown them out onto the street and wouldn't provide financial information for the FAFSA form to trying to find them housing because they were forced to live with a sibling and her boyfriend who were using the apartment for prostitution.
I have worked tirelessly every year to write as many college recommendations and scholarship letters as I can, despite the increased volume of compliance paperwork that has come with the new evaluation system. I have spent hundreds of hours on the phone over the years with colleges trying to help students fix some problem that has arisen over their admissions applications or financial aid.
When former students have reached out to me with various problems, from issues with their jobs to concerns they have had over health, I have taken the time and the energy to try and resolve their problems and if I couldn't do that, I have tried to steer these former students to the individuals or entities that could.
In addition, I have "sacrificed" my lunch period or prep period countless times when a student has needed help with something, whether it be tutoring for a Regents exam or counseling over a matter dealing with their families, friends or growing up. I am always available to talk to students, no matter how frenzied my workday is, because my job is to help my students as best I can with the talents, skills and knowledge that I have.
I do all of this while teaching five classes every semester, a total of 340 students a year, attending two focus groups a week, doing the PD that's forced on us and mostly soul-sucking and worthless, attending department meetings, lesson planning, and reading and grading student work.
When I come home at night, I am physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted from my job, and this exhaustion grows worse by the year, not because I am getting older but because the job is getting harder.
And much of the difficulty that has been added to my teaching job is nothing more than compliance work that doesn't help either me or my students.
For example, it doesn't make me a better teacher to have to document every bloody thing I plan to do in all three of my preps on three different daily lesson plans in case an administrator comes in for a drive-by observation.
It does take extra mental and emotional energy to do it, however - mental and emotional energy that would be better used helping my students but alas, that gets harder to do in the Era of Reform.
Given all of this, you can imagine how insulted I feel when I see some thoughtless statement from some politician like Carmen Arroyo saying I must "sacrifice" my family and myself in order to keep my job.
I am already sacrificing much of myself for my students, but apparently that's not good enough for Ms. Arroyo.
She wants me to sacrifice my family too.
You should call Ms. Arroyo and ask her if she's sacrificing her family for her constituents.
After all, if teachers are expected to sacrifice their families for their students, the least Ms. Arroyo's constituents can expect is for her to sacrifice her family for them.
While you're at it, let her know what you think about her disdain for teachers.
Here's her contact info:
District Office384 East 149 Street, Suite 301
Bronx, NY 10455
Albany OfficeLOB 734
Albany, NY 12248