The man wearing a Rolex watch approached me during a break in my son’s basketball game. “How’s it going?” he asked.
“This must be a crazy year for you,” he said.
“Yeah--but speaking on behalf of children and teachers is a privilege.” I replied.
The man nodded and glanced at a Blackberry in his right hand. “It must be nice to be a teacher,” he remarked.
“Why’s that?” I asked.
“Because you don’t have to worry about losing your job,” he answered quickly. “I wish that I was a teacher in today’s economy.”
Breathe deeply. Relax. I wear the scarlet T and must expect a hostile public reaction. After all, the local and national newspapers are filled with stories about my sins. I am a member of a “greedy and selfish” union not willing to agree to a wage freeze. I associate with other subversives not willing to “sacrifice for the benefit of the taxpayers.” This week’s Sunday editorial page was filled with nasty comments from readers upset with teachers and other municipal employees. The sustained effort to demonize teachers was effectively reaching the masses. But I refuse to wash the T from my forehead.
I look at the man with the Rolex watch. I have known him for many years and this is not the first time he remarked about the benefits of being a teacher. “Let me ask you something,” I said. “Why didn’t you become a teacher instead of a money manager?”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“I’m just wondering why you did not decide to become a teacher back in the 1980s,” I said.
“Because I earned a degree in accounting,” he replied.
“No,” I responded. “You decided not to be a teacher because you wanted to make a lot of money working on Wall Street.
“Let me finish,” I said. “You own a McMansion, a heated in ground swimming pool, and have vacationed in places I can’t find on a map.”
“And you once questioned how teachers could live on a yearly salary that was less than the price of your Land Rover.”
“And now teachers and other working-class people are the villains responsible for the economic mess you created.”
“I created?” he asked incredulously.
“Yes. Wall Street greed collapsed the economy--not teachers. I don’t begrudge anyone from making money,” I continued, “but don’t go out drinking all night and then ask me to suffer the hangover.”
I proudly wear the Scarlet T. What an honest world it would be if others wore the scarlet G.
The opinions expressed in Road Diaries: 2009 Teacher of the Year are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.