Wednesday, December 17, 2008

At our staff meeting this morning, our principal passed out lanyards for our new ID cards. OK, naive me thought COOL, we get ID tags like other professionals other places. I expected some people to moan and groan but I really did not anticipate the barage of unprofessionalism I saw displayed.

I think the principal might have been less naive than I- there were boxes of warm doughnuts greeting us - a long standing teasing grip between he and I about him not bringing us treats for these tortorous meetings. So the sight of doughnuts should have been my first clue, things were going to be a bit more intersting today!

As he sent the snarls of lanyards around to staff members, suddenly the yelling began. "Whose idea was this?" "Is this simply another top down way to control us?" "What purpose do these serve?" "What if we don't wear them?"

Comments from the usual suspects, yes, but instead of being made as calm comments, they were yelling, attacking, and intimidating.

The principal tried to calmly address the questions - the decision had just come about as a result of several factors. He pointed out it had been discussed at School Improvement Team Meetings, in conjunction with our trying to get a visitor welcoming center at the front door of the school, without success. We as a district are trying to crack down on who comes into the building during the school day. ID cards are just one more way to identify who should be there, and who should not be here. It all boils down to a safety issue, pure and simple.

The opposing teachers continued to berate him with accusations that this was because we have just recently settled our contract, finally after nearly 2 years of working without one. They wanted to make it a union/administration issue big time.

Finally, another teacher spoke up politely asking could we please more on to more important things and stop dwelling on trivial stuff.

He was attacked back, one teacher standing, leaning towards him threateningly telling him that a large number of teachers WERE concerned about this and HE should be quiet and let the rest of people have their say. The irony... only 3 of the probably 40 teachers there were speaking out opposed to the ID cards, and here one spoke up against them, and was shut down immediately.

The principal tried to gain control but it was hopeless. His face was defeated, he knew no matter what was said, it wouldn't matter. He tried to further explain his position, the rationale for the ID cards, but no, those in opposition were relentless.

All this comes down to professionalism in my book. Is wearing an ID card REALLY a crisis? Is it really worth attacking each other over? At what point do we step back and realize we are EMPLOYEES of the school district and certain things, certain mandates are NOT union/contract issues? Our employer has the right to tell us certain things. Our employer has the right to mandate certain things concerning procedures in this building. What makes us think we have the right to argue, challenge his authority, and certainly, attack his integrity in a public forum.

What does it say about us as a profession when we act so unprofessionally towards our adminstration and each other?

Sometimes I think we as teachers do not deserve pay at the same scale we would get out on the open market. We, too often, are just a bunch of whiny, obnoxious people, out for blood in a complete US against THEM battle. We have forgotten our purpose in this profession. We have forgotten what professionalism means or looks like. We act like uneducated blue collar radicals with hidden agendas. No wonder we aren't paid what we are worth.

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