Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jobs v. "The Mission"

San Diego Unified School District is facing massive budget cuts as the state withdraws more and more money from localities. I watched a news report the other night of a public meeting where the school board was discussing ways to deal with the cuts and, of course, laying off teachers is one of the items that are pretty much a certainty. The longer I watched, the more disgusted I became by the reactions of the teachers in attendance.

The reaction was entirely about job losses. Not one teacher expressed concern about the effect of budget cuts on their ability to provide kids with an adequate education. Every opinion expressed by a teacher was in an angry tone and was about the loss of teacher jobs. I had to wonder what these people think is the purpose of public schools, to provide education to children, or to provide jobs for teachers.

By contrast, when representatives of the firefighters and police speak of the layoffs and cutbacks which are already in place, the concern expressed is almost always in terms of the ability to “fulfill the mission.” One firefighter talked quite movingly about his fear of arriving too late to save a life. Yes, occasionally they talk about job concerns, but that concern does not seem to prevail. It’s almost always about “the mission.”

Guess which budget I have an emotional investment in seeing restored.


  1. Interesting. It is true that some teachers are in it for the money (an oxymoron?) but the vast majority are there for the kids. For the past year I have been working as a "paraprofessional" in a school district and see most teachers, good and not so good, busting their ass to provide the best for the kids. Some just have more talent at the job than others, and some should probably consider other employment, but I don't know one who is not trying their best in a hard job. The problem as I see it is there are too many employees, who have little to do with teaching, pulling down six figures and actually impeding the teaching process. They should be the first to go during a crisis of this type. Not teachers and the ever "expendable luch ladies." Won't happen though. Sorry for the rant.