I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm proud to be a teacher. And I'm voting yes.

I can't remember a public official ever going after a middle class group the way Christie has taken on teachers. Reagan going after PATCO? I was pretty young, but I don't remember this level of rancor.

It's disheartening. You're in there trying to do your job, and the man with the biggest microphone in NJ is sitting there, day after day, ripping into you for being a greedy bastard, bringing home maybe $2000 a paycheck of you've been on the job a good long while.

It's very tempting to throw up your hands and say WTF. But I won't - I can't.

I believe in what I'm doing. Lord knows I make a ton of mistakes every day, but this is the most satisfying job I've ever had. I can not tell you what it's like to see the light bulb go off above a kid's head; there's no feeling like it.

I've had people phone it in at every job I've ever had, and school's no different. But it's much, much harder to get away with that in a school, because the kids won't put up with it. They know when you're skating, and they will let YOU know.

I just want to keep doing what I do, and live a modest but comfortable middle-class existence while doing so. Is that wrong? To want a nice but simple house, in a nice town with good schools? To be able to get the mini-van fixed? To be able to save something to help send my kids to a good college? To have decent health care? To have enough money after retirement to live modestly but comfortably?

Does this make me greedy?

Times are tough - we all know this. We teachers really are willing to compromise - IF you treat us with respect. We will give up money to make our schools great places to continue to work, as long as we know we're going to get something back for our sacrifice.

So I'm voting yes. I'm not optimistic about tomorrow, but I'm going to make my stand. And I'll keep fighting for respect for the profession, and against those who would vilify me and my colleagues for cheap political points.

I'm proud to be a teacher. And I'm voting yes.

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