Keeping retirement weird. Sharing the pain.


Before leaving town to spend the Fourth with family on the East Coast, we celebrated the birthday of a Chicago teacher last week. As happens, a heated discussion broke out as we shared pizza and beer as to whether we would advise young folks today to enter the teaching profession.

“I would never tell someone not to teach,” I said.

I got that look from a number of those standing around me.

You know, that look.

Okay. I had to qualify that.

Well sure.

If you’re looking for pay that is commensurate with your skills and professional training, job security and a guarantee that the pension you were promised will be there when you retiree, don’t go into teaching.

I’m not a fan of the current genre of articles from teachers that appear on my Facebook feed that explain why they quit teaching.

I loved the thirty years I taught. I fought what I opposed. I was an active teacher union leader. All that.


Look at the budget deal worked out in Springfield this week.

There are some things we know and some things we don’t.

We know that there now appears some money to open schools in the Fall, even if we don’t exactly know where it will be coming from.

We know that the basic regressive revenue structure remains in place, putting greater financial burdens on those least able to afford it.

We know that the Governor did not get any of his Turnaround Agenda.

That’s good.

We know that there will be another attempt to go after the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution and that the courts will once again tell the politicians that no means no.

And we know that teachers will catch hell.

Editorialized the Sun-Times:

So, let’s see. Who has yet to really feel the pain? Who has yet to join in this begrudging spirit of shared sacrifice?

We would say the Chicago Teachers Union.


I’m just glad I don’t have to go back and face those teachers I was arguing with at last week’s party.

Happy Fourth!

4 Replies to “Keeping retirement weird. Sharing the pain.”

  1. You can always move to Finland:

    “…There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). ‘Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,’ said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union.

    “Ninety-three percent of Finns graduate from academic or vocational high schools, 17.5 percentage points higher than the United States, and 66 percent go on to higher education, the highest rate in the European Union. Yet Finland spends about 30 percent less per student than the United States…” (Why are Finland’s schools successful? by LynNell Hancock).

  2. “So, let’s see. Who has yet to really feel the pain? Who has yet to join in this begrudging spirit of shared sacrifice?

    We would say the Chicago Teachers Union.”

    According to the Sun-Times, job losses, funding cuts, tenure elimination, constant downtown demonstrations and marches against a corrupt system that benefits only the rich aren’t enough “pain?” “Shared sacrifice???” My a**!!! Where are Fahner’s, Rauner’s, Griffin’s, and their ilk’s “sacrifices?” The Chicago Teachers Union’s sacrifice(s), that of public employees, and ordinary citizens are Fahner’s, Rauner’s, and Griffin’s gains.

    How far can our millionaire/billionaire class, the Sun-Times and the Trib, their corporate mouthpieces, drive us? Like their patrons for whom they run interference, these organs of the rich and powerful are fully engaged in class warfare. Of course, the Sun-Times “would say” that with the assurance of history’s biggest sleepwalkers, Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the late Czar of Russia, Nicholas II; soon to be followed by Fahner, Rauner, Griffin & Co.

    To the Sun-Times: The days of neoliberalism – austerity, “free market” discipline, privatization of public assets, deregulation, and tax cuts- are numbered. So let’s see…

  3. Fred, I tell my former students who ask about teaching as a career to find something else to do for a living. I, too, enjoyed teaching for my first 25 years or so. I absolutely don’t now. B.S. evaluation plans, the disappearance of collaborative decision making, never ending standardized tests, lectures by administrators about scores, parents who think their kids are perfect, deliberate violations of the contract, and on and on, have made me very jaded and bitter. I can’t afford to resign, but plan on leaving as soon as possible.

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