Riffing on the Unemployment Blues

I subbed a couple of times this week. On the first day, a teacher told me that he just found out that he had been “riffed,” but he had also been invited to re-apply for his job the next school year. I asked him about his plans, and he said he’d like to go back to selling tires. I found out later that several other teachers and paras were in the same situation. I ended up subbing for that teacher two days later. At the end of the day, a colleague from another program came looking for him, having heard the school wide gossip. She wanted to buy him a drink and commiserate. I mentioned that I thought the teacher had tenure and should be one of the last to go. His colleague said, “If they want to get rid of you, they’ll get rid of you.”

Tenure is no longer the gurantee that it used to be. In Chicago, over 800 tenured teachers were laid off last year. Many ended up as substitute teachers. With the rise of charter and private schools at will employment may soon be the norm.

In an era where teachers are expected to have students who are all above average on standardized tests, I’m guessing that education won’t be a life-long occupation for many.  Like  joining the peace corp or enlisting in the army,  teaching will be a cause for people in their twenties  to respond to before they settle down and raise  a family or need a job that requires only 9 hours or less of their workday.

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January 21, 2011. Uncategorized.

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