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Posted by Dock Jekel on Thursday, June 24, 2010


     Warning: The following blog contains political content that you may disagree with, and is not related to banjo playing.   Anyway...

     I am a science teacher.    I just finished my ninth year teaching science to seventh graders.  I have been teaching science at Middletown, California for the past four years.  I got two sweet little girls Natalie and Nina, and my wife, Patricia, that I am working hard to support.  I taught science on a “shoe string” budget this past year (most years).  I got $100 bucks for science supplies to teach 130 kids science for a year.  Any extra that was needed came out of my pocket.   Well, guess what, I just got laid off, along with 9 other teachers in my small school district. 

     I am fortunate.  The teachers in my district decided to take a cut in pay to keep some teachers from standing in the unemployment line.  I was the last of 5 teachers to remain (based on seniority), 4 teachers had to go, and are packing their belongings in their classrooms, and are turning in their keys for good.  (I am not sure what they are doing now, since there are no other teaching jobs available).  I am lucky because teachers decided to support me out of their own pocket.  The public wouldn’t.  Apparently, the public does not elect to support the school system.  The majority in Congress are calling any attempt to prevent teacher layoffs, another unwise “bail out”.  In my opinion, people who claim education has plenty of public money, that teachers are well paid and supported ….have no idea what they are talking about.  

     Picture this, …I understand, up to 300,000 school teachers… in the entire USA, are going to be out of a job next fall- biggest percent teacher layoff since the great depression?  They will be the youngest and most energetic ones, with the latest, best ideas about effective education practices.  That seems to me like a lot of talent to waste in the unemployment line. 


11 comments on “I GOT LAID OFF”

Bill Rogers Says:
Friday, June 25, 2010 @12:40:33 AM

Anti-tax attitudes are, of course, deeply rooted in this country; so is prejudice against education and the formally educated. See Richard Hofstadter: *Anti-intellectualism in American Life*, 1964.... Sadly then, what's happening to our schools is no surprise to me. Far too many folks in this country think teachers don't do any "work," since they don't do physical labor. Of course 98% of those same people would not last a week in a middle-school or high-school classroom.

TopCat Says:
Friday, June 25, 2010 @2:05:47 AM

Sorry to hear of your troubles but glad that you had a reprieve.

wvwood Says:
Friday, June 25, 2010 @5:14:58 AM

The funding for the unemployment line will disappear soon too,I'm reading(thanks to a teacher).

duane.stenzel Says:
Friday, June 25, 2010 @9:16:58 AM

Sorry to hear about your plight Dock -- been there done that.... Good luck

Dock Jekel Says:
Friday, June 25, 2010 @11:07:56 AM

Sorry folks. My feelings about the subject are so strong and complicated, that I could rant on for pages... I'll just finish "Best to us all through these hard times"!

john leary Says:
Friday, June 25, 2010 @11:27:11 AM

Hi Dock, sorry to hear of your job loss, I hope you find something soon.
The bankers and the capitalist system have a lot to answer for.
In my country, UK, workers in the public sector i.e. teachers, health workers, council workers, refuge workers etc...
are heading for the same fate as you, and the bankers? (not the tillers etc..) They'll still be collecting thier obsene bonuses and laughing all the way to the bank.
All the best.

Moonpie50 Says:
Saturday, June 26, 2010 @8:34:13 PM

Dock I am sorry to hear this. My husband was laid off last year for 8 months. We don't know if he will get laid off again or not. I praise the teachers for what they do. I taught a nutrition class and also did clinicals at a tech school for a nursing program. It was a nightmare for me. I eventually threw in the towel. But thankful that I do still have a job being a nurse. But I never thought that I would see the day a nurse would have a hard time finding a job. But it is here for us too...

banjowannabe Says:
Sunday, June 27, 2010 @1:05:05 AM

As a culture we are not doing a very good job of taking care of our culture. The country has a very self-centered nature about it that doesn't focus on taking care of each other. I am an educator, and I know how tough it is out there. Between our School Board and the State, we just took a 5.5% pay cut, and this is in Ann Arbor, MI. which is a very strong supporter of its schools. I'm surprised that as a science teacher you can be easily replaced. They aren't always that easy to find.

Bill Rogers Says:
Sunday, June 27, 2010 @8:47:43 AM

California's in a situation of simply cutting teaching staff. Laid-off teachers are not being replaced; instead, class sizes are being increased significantly. Teachers' unions, which are pretty strong out here, are mostly agreeing to the cutbacks, doing their best to temper them. The school boards simply don't have the money with state finances in seemingly unending deficit, and the local electorates unwilling to institute further levies to support schools.

drummerboy Says:
Sunday, June 27, 2010 @12:03:29 PM

I'm going to be a defector here, though I'm not sure why this topic is on the banjo hangout. The teacher's union is a corrupt organization headed by ideologues. While I believe that the majority of teachers really want to do a good job for the students, the union mentality of entitlement has poisoned the system.
My oldest brother was a teacher after working for my father in construction for 20+ yrs. He retired last year. As a vocational teacher his students were often the ones that could barely read or write even though they were in high school. They were also the kids with chronic behavioral problems.
He was hired the day before the first day of school with no curriculum and he had students from 10th -12th grade all in the same classroom! The following summer the school paid him by the hour to write curriculum for the program. His wife is also a career teacher who recently retired. They both felt that the teacher's union was corrupt.
One of my biggest beefs with state workers is the pension fund. It seems either incredibly arrogant or ignorant that state workers feel entitled to a pension. Half of the population, who gets no pension, gets to support the pension funds of the other half. When you look at state budgets and the growing deficits, the GLARING problem at hand is the cost of maintaining those pension funds. They are literally bankrupting our country- both federal and state pension funds. We need to end them NOW. Keep whatever money you have paid into the system, but no more matching funds, no more pensions of any kind for new workers. The rest of the country must be responsible enough with their money to invest in IRA's etc. and plan for their retirement. Why should teachers or anyone else (unless it is a private company) have matching funds paid for by the rest of the population who gets no such benefits? Those who are least able to afford it are forced to pay for others. Yet you say "the public does not elect to support the school system."
I personally find this offensive. If I lose my job I'm totally on my own. I recently completed nursing school. During this time my wife and I pay over $10,000/yr. OUT OF POCKET for our health insurance. In all of my previous jobs (I'm 55 yrs. old) I have never had anyone take care of me when a layoff occurred. It was up to me to find another job, work a second job, or do whatever it took to keep me head above water.
Because we do not believe that the public school system respects our values nor provides a balanced and fair education, we home school our two children. Yet even though our kids never set foot in the public school we are forced to pay the same school taxes as others do that do go to public school. How fair is that? So, we pay TWICE for education. Once for the public school taxes and a second time for the costs to be a part of the home school co-op, along with the cost to buy books, supplies, and the costs for field trips etc.
So, while I am truly sorry that you, or anyone else has lost their job, don't blame the outcome on a failure of the public to support public education. If the unions in their greed would recognize that making demands for more and more is a no win long term situation, our country would be in a much better place financially than it is now. Have you noticed by the way that your union representatives are not losing their jobs????

Nymphadora Says:
Thursday, July 8, 2010 @9:16:14 PM

Hello, Dock....I'm sorry you had to go thru that...and I agree with everything you said. I was a college prof. teaching photography and design. I thought I would retire from there. They told us how great the budget was on a Thursday....the next day 6 of us were "laid off"... That was in 2003. Most people seem to get thru this stuff somehow... but not me. I fell into a bipolar plunge and never really pulled out. When Drs decided I was disabled and not able to return to work I had to sue our stinking government to get on the Social Security that they claimed was "there to help us." When I worked I missed 2 days in 6 years. The school didn't even know. I also spent my money to help students do well. Luckily, several students emailed months, or years, later and told me I actually made a difference in their lives, and even changed careers to be photographers like me. Somehow, that made all the crap worthwhile. I hope things will go well for you. Bless you.....Nymphadora

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