Keeping retirement weird. Power.


“Teachers love power,” a reader/troll recently wrote me.

He went on:

That is the crux of the problem. They love to say “I’m a teacher” and have that confer some exclusivity and superiority. Moral and otherwise. When the fact is they are government employees that utilize unions to negotiate that power abandoning any moral high ground they might believe they have because of their lofty personal mission to teach children. They abandon it in the search of personal security at the expense of quality education and the finances of the communities they serve. They want tenure and pensions and all manner of guarantees and autonomy, and they reject performance metrics in favor of demanding life long employment.

The noble self sacrificing person that they may have started out to be is lost or buried in the mire of socialistic education, red tape, and their own self interest.

Being a teacher confers you no moral or intellectual superiority and often the inverse is true because teachers tend to have no real world experience at all to draw from to teach students about what actually happens when you aren’t effectively an adult ward of the state.

No. It wasn’t Peter Cunningham.

“Teachers love power.”  That statement kept rolling through my brain.

Yes. What can possibly be more powerful than being a K-5 Art teacher?

I Googled teacher + retired + images and this is what I got:


All powerful God

Look. It is pretty obvious that few go into teaching for the power.

Which is not to say that there isn’t potential power in the unity of teacher unions, parents and communities in the fight for social and economic justice.

But my reader/troll and I were just talking past each other. We view the world through entirely different lenses.

He looks at our contractually and constitutionally protected pension and then questions why only public employees have these guarantees.

I question it too.

I don’t understand how a humane society doesn’t guarantee a level of financial security to every retired and elderly person in the country.

When Anne and I traveled to the Netherlands this past summer and I told our hosts what it cost us as retirees for simple, basic health care, they were astonished.

And we have it better than most.

Believe me. If I had the power…

4 Replies to “Keeping retirement weird. Power.”

  1. To the Reader/Troll:
    “If I had a child who wanted to be a teacher, I would bid him [or her] Godspeed as if he [or she] were going to a war. For indeed the war against prejudice, greed, and ignorance is eternal, and those who dedicate themselves to it give their lives no less because they may live to see some fraction of the battle won” –James Hilton.

    and thank you, Fred.

  2. Idiots love stereotypes. That is the crux of the problem. They love to say, “These people suck,” and have that confer some validation and reassurance that they are not, in fact, idiots. When the fact is they actually use sentence fragments and think they’ve uttered complete thoughts. They abandon standard usage in search of personal validation at the expense of pursuit of the education that might offer them some degree of sophistication or civility.

    Being an idiot confers you no moral superiority and further indulgence in stereotypes doesn’t make you appear any smarter than you looked when you first began blathering your inane nonsense.

  3. Dear Fred,
    This crossed my mind as I read your Saturday blog entry. It begins with a quote from Pilgrim’s Progress taken by a former “Progressive” President who tried to address abuse of the many in American society by the wealthy and powerful of his time. He was called a lot of things too. Just like teachers.

    A quote from Theodore Roosevelt: (a Republican, by the way) from “The Man with the Muck Rake”

    “In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress you may recall the description of the Man with the Muck Rake, the man who could look no way but downward, with the muck rake in his hand; who was offered a celestial crown for his muck rake, but who would neither look up nor regard the crown he was offered, but continued to rake to himself the filth of the floor.”

    Roosevelt’s point was to illustrate how how a person could overlook or misunderstand central facts by obsessing upon a more trivial personal dislike.

    The views expressed by your troll clearly illustrate feelings of loss and powerlessness. Is this powerlessness and loss all that is seen? Is he or she angry because teachers can still try to demand fair treatment from those who have taken so much from them?

    The wealthy and powerful in our society have overwhelmed the ability of many to resist. Things have taken away from those who “played by the rules”. Things that they expected as their due for a lifetime of labor. Isolation and anger are all that seem to be left after so much has been taken.

    A “Why, me?” reaction seems to have morphed into “Why not them as well?” on the part of these trolls. After all, teachers still have some of the benefits these individuals expected to get in return for their labors, but lost.

    Teachers still can fight to keep from losing these things. Perhaps it is in reaction to feelings of loss and powerlessness that he or she attacks teachers and teacher unions. Classic displacement.

    Exploitation at the hands of the few rich and powerful comes at the expense of the many. Teachers are a counterbalance to those who have exploited public goods to enrich themselves. That counterbalance is created through moral persuasion and collective action. This troll attacks and denigrates that counterbalance because he or she has no power to resist themselves.

    I would suggest a little more reading for this person to gain a clearer understanding of who is doing what to whom and at what cost. Don Washington wrote an interesting commentary related to how our “troll” got to where they are now. I found it illuminating. Here is how to find it.

    The Article:

    A View from Washington – The Common Public Good or Uncommon Private Violence Awaits

    More resistance, less Stockholm Syndrome please.

  4. Those who are bemoaning teachers’ salaries and pensions should have become teachers. It’s easy to shoot from the lip, isn’t it? They have a disease known as “pension envy.” “Pension envy” is a relatively recent disease; it didn’t exist until about seven years ago. The best but not the only cure for “pension envy” is for those afflicted to get into the teaching profession and remain there twenty years for a minimum pension and thirty-four years for the maximum. The maximum pension also means that a pensioner leaves the profession with a Phd. or the equivalent in college credits. (I suppose a Phd. is “scamming the system?”) With all those great incentives, do you see masses of people throughout Illinois flocking to become teachers, especially those with the biggest mouths?

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