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Arthur Goldstein

Arthur Goldstein

How To Extend Your Teaching Career (SATIRE)

Posted: 03/ 3/11 09:09 PM ET

It's tough being a teacher nowadays. In Wisconsin, they want to kill collective bargaining and do whatever they wish. Mayor Bloomberg doesn't want to look as extreme as Scott Walker, so he's simply rolled out a bill that would pretty much let him fire anyone he feels like firing. It's pretty easy to give a teacher an arbitrary "U" rating. And once can get rid of anyone you like, the whole collective bargaining issue becomes a lot less important.

In fairness, Bloomberg previously requested an arbitrary and capricious standard for dismissing teachers, and only set on this course when teachers, for some odd reason, failed to embrace it. The bill stalled in the Assembly, and looks pretty dead at the moment. But if plans like these are coming down the pike, how can you really sustain a teaching career?

Billionaire-sponsored ERN, E4E, and Cathie Black have synchronized their talking points and are targeting you relentlessly -- you are Satan incarnate, and how dare you presume to protect your livelihood? What outrageous self-indulgence. If you had any shred of self-respect, you'd resign immediately, plant yourself out back with the trash, and wait patiently to be hauled away.

Should you lack the intestinal fortitude to follow those simple instructions, your pathway to a regular classroom is fraught with obstacles. It's particularly tough on experienced teachers. Despite much talk of merit from the "reformers," it's a fair bet, given Joel Klein's decision to have schools pay salaries out of their own budgets, principals will economize, engaging two shiny new teachers rather than a crusty old vet. There are, however, potential workarounds:

1. Change your identity.

It's well known that false ID can be procured if you're willing exercise due diligence. While it may prove costly, if you wish to remain teaching, sacrifices are called for. Disregard qualms about falsifying your educational transcripts. Surely you have real ones equal to or better than those you're creating. If anything discourages veteran teachers, let it be that potential 50-percent pay cut starting anew entails. This may prove untenable for many. As if that were not enough, you'll also be entering a cutthroat job market. If you're determined to proceed, you may wish to enhance your prospects.

2. Join TFA.

If you go this route, it may prove beneficial to falsify an Ivy diploma rather than just any old certificate. For older teachers, consider hair dye or plastic surgery, as necessary, to better integrate with recent grads. Don't let on that you wish to teach; rather, express a desire to become CEO of an up-and-coming charter chain. Rid yourself of family photos. Carry shots of Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee and beam with pride when displaying them to recruiters.

3. Enter witness protection.

This option is most popular among those in the know. An inconvenience, of course, is the necessity of at least peripheral involvement in a major crime in order to be considered. Not only that, but you'll likely need to rat out someone more directly involved, always a risky prospect. Nonetheless, if you're up to the task, you get a new identity, and papers that are likely far superior to those produced in the backroom of the Quickie Mart. Additionally, there's the prospect of writing a sensational tell-all if you manage to outlive whoever wishes to rub you out.

Older teachers may be tempted to prattle of their experience, their years of service, their dedication to students and other such nonsense. Remember, this means nothing to potential employers. Bill Gates says teachers don't get any better after three years. Those who now run school systems have, therefore, disabused themselves of archaic notions that people get wiser with age. (Why they bother with education at all is anyone's guess.)

In any case, current school leaders have learned not to discern between valid ideas and those of self-appointed billionaire educational experts. It's unrealistic to think they'd value anything as irrelevant as classroom experience in a teacher, particularly since they don't value it in a chancellor.

While your educational background precludes your becoming chancellor, if you manage to land yourself a job, you may well be able to hang on 3-5 years before repeating the process. Beginning teachers, while initially skirting this process, are well-advised to study it anyway.

Fifty percent of new teachers don't make it to five years now. If Mayor Bloomberg gets his way, teachers will turn over faster than fry cooks at McDonald's. That's good if the bottom line is saving money on salary and pensions. But it's not precisely putting "children first."

Unless, of course, you really want your children to have that sort of job when they grow up.