Perhaps you saw the story regarding an elementary school teacher in New Jersey who was admittedly late over 100 times in the past two school years combined yet retained his position.
He has been suspended without pay from the beginning of this school year until January.
The teacher maintains he had a habit of eating breakfast at home…and thereby lost track of time. Each time.
Governor Chris Christie expressed his frustration on Twitter…“Think I’m too tough on the teachers union? This is what we’re dealing with in NJ.” He signed into law a tenure reform law in 2012 which was supposed to make it easier to remove educators deemed to not be fulfilling their obligations. It sounds like the only thing that really happened is arbitration decisions have returned said teachers to the classrooms as suspensions have been found to be more appropriate than terminations…at least initially.
This was just another entry read and filed away mentally off my news feed until I was listening to the radio this morning and the show hosts were making fun of it. A man called in stating he was a teacher and he and his fellow co-workers are fed up with this story specifically and the way teachers are treated generally by the media when it comes to their dedication to duty. He said teachers work hard…work under difficult circumstances at times…and do not deserve to be painted in such a negative shade with the easy, lazy broad brush the media seems to pull out each time someone in their profession doesn’t perform it well.
Why WAS this a national news item? Was it because Chris Christie, a candidate for President, was trying to show the challenge faced in his position dealing with union politics? Was it because in many jobs you’d be excused from work after a couple bouts with lateness let alone at least 46 times the school year past…and 65 times the year before? Perhaps it was worth our attention because a lot of folks are still scrambling for any employment and would be most grateful for the chance to prove their punctuality? The headline to the story did happen to mention the teacher in question makes $90,000 annually…a living wage to be sure.
All of the above I’m sure…but the gentleman who called the radio station was also certainly correct. A lot of us embrace stereotypes and paint a broad brush over most anyone’s occupation when but one within fails. These stereotypes are a part of our culture, our entertainment.
I hope when we see the jokes and ridicule generated from stereotypes, however and whenever presented, we are smart enough to refocus and confine attention to the specific individual and situation at hand…and not let stereotypes get out of hand…and not pass them on.