Identity, Imagination, and Iwata

14 07 2015

As many of you have a likely heard by now, Mr. Satoru Iwata, the president of Nintendo, died on July 11 after a long battle with cancer. This entry…I think this is more for me and my mental health than anything. Mr. Iwata’s passing really got me and I have been doing a lot of ugly crying the last few days. I apologize in advance if this sometimes meanders and rambles. There have been countless tributes to Mr. Iwata, but I think the most powerful has been the piece of artwork created by Sonja van Vuure (pictured below)

thankyouiwata_smlSonja van Vuure

  This is not intended to be a post about the cruelty that is cancer and how we lose too many, too young (Mr. Iwata was only 55 years old). It isn’t even an attempt to speak as some type of industry “insider” as my years of being in the quasi-loop in the video game world are long behind me. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what this entry IS about, but I didn’t want it to be those things. I have been a Nintendo fan ever since I was little. I grew up, almost for my whole life, with Nintendo. As far back as I can recall, video games were always a part of my life. I have become something of a collector over the years. I remember going to the local video store and renting an NES console and games because we did not own one (I would assume it was because of cost, but I cannot say exactly why). I was two years old when the NES launched. My family did not purchase an NES for another 3 years, maybe 4 years (I want to say we bought one in the Summer of 89, but it may have been 1990). For what it is worth, though, I grew up with the NES as an integral part of my childhood. I remember the first time we rented the NES from the local video store and brought it home, got it hooked up, and invited neighbors over to see it and play it. It became a party. The game that got everyone all riled up? Duck Hunt. Duck Hunt became the first party game. Who ever would have guessed 16 years later family would gather in that same living room at Thanksgiving to play Wii Sports? While playing games and being a fan of Nintendo does not define a life, it certainly highlights the importance of games to my personal existence. Read the rest of this entry »





Staring into the Abyss

4 06 2015

The following is transcribed from a Twitter Rant I went on earlier today. It was very much a stream-of-consciousness type rant because I had just seen enough and needed to get the thoughts and feeling out of my mind and body. I prefaced it with Lewis Black’s amazing hashtag, #TheRantIsDue.

I don’t expect to win too many friends with this, but that’s life.

—————-

I never thought this day would come, but I have become the most ardent, vocal defender of someone related to and involved with the Kardashians. The willful ignorance of short sighted (and, let’s call a spade a spade here, largely conservative) yahoos has made me a defendant of Caitlyn Jenner.

For a society that loves to claim “you do you,” it seems a touch hypocritical to castigate a person for being herself. Yes, Caitlyn Jenner is rich and a celebrity (partly because of previous successes I  Athletics, and it’s not like America hasn’t had an unhealthy obsession with sports and sports figures before AND partly because we, as a society, made her one by association with a family, honestly, known for doing nothing positive or meaningful in the world). Yes, Caitlyn’s transition is absolutely abnormal for the vast majority of the Trans population.

How Goddamn motherfucking hard is it to acknowledge a person’s humanity? Jesus Christ. You’re willing to believe there’s a man who lives in the fucking sky who sees and knows all and lives in the past, present, and future simultaneously, but you can’t DARE be bothered to use the correct preferred pronoun for someone?

I know women as still viewed as weak, inferior beings and undeserving of autonomy, but that’s a bigger problem in this country (and the world) than Caitlyn Jenner. Every movement needs heroes and villains. It took the American Society all of about 8 minutes to prove itself as the villain.

There are many out there who are doing and saying the right things to support others (not dust in the Trans community, but we’ll focus there for now). It is, again, to NOBODY’S surprise that the loudest opponents to using a correct pronoun and recognizing a person’s humanity are the people on far-right. The Christian conservatives, naturally, but that’s because they are all fucked in the head and are too busy supporting the Duggar family for protecting their molester son. The social conservatives…Jesus Christ, I don’t even try to understand them as a separate entity from the Christian right. These jack wagons are the group most closely related to the gamer gate movement. Anti-woman, anti-minority, anti-social legislation. They are the group defending the rights of white men against the looming fear of not-white-men moving anywhere up in the world.

These assclappers on the right, man. And these are the first jagaloons to yell and scream “NOT ALL COPS ARE BAD!” after another white cop shoots and kills a black or brown skinned person without cause. Well, not all conservatives are bad, but the vocal yahoos make it bad for everyone. See how that works? If 99% of police are good, upstanding people, they all Bear the taint of their rotten 1%. Same goes with the far right. There are some decent people, some who I call friends, who are strongly conservative but can avow themselves the dignity to differentiate from the caterwaul of ignorant stupidity to come crawling form the mouths of the feckless so-called leaders in Washington.

The onus is on the few remaining sane people on the conservative side to right this ship. The conservative movement has been, for a long time, become one of exclusion, privilege, and dynastic entitlement. I would be remiss to mention that, in America, those terms apply to only one sex and one race. And those white men are scared shitless that a brown person or a woman or, heaven forbid, a brown woman can make it somewhere. That “those” people can actually climb the ladder out of poverty and break the cycle of historic, systemic racism and sexism.

And here we are. Who ever would have guessed that Caitlyn Jenner would be the Lexington and Concord of this war? Refusing to acknowledge Caitlyn Jenner as “Caitlyn” reveals way more about you, your world view, and the society you want than most anything else you can show or say. And, to be frank, I don’t think I want to know you or have you be part of the world I live in.





Penguins Postmortem: Part 1

28 04 2015

On the bus with the kids end route to Raleigh for the visit to State. Just kinda musing to myself now about the Penguins and the NHL and life in general…

1. Ben Lovejoy is not a great defenseman. That’s not the argument. Lovejoy is a more than competent bottom pair guy. He was a nightmare I  the playoffs because, frankly, he’s not that good and he certainly should not have been playing in the top pair, but the injury situation changed all of that. If your third pair is Lovejoy and Dumoulin or Harrington or Chorney, or even as the 7th D when injuries happen, you’re in a good spot. He’s a cheap veteran player. Going on a rant about how awful he is does nothing. He’s got another year of term, provides cost certainty, and can be a useful depth player. Let that dead horse finally rest.

2. The Penguins had to pay for the sins of the Father this past year. That’s just how it goes. Ray Shero, in effect, destroyed this team. Because of his trading style (gambling) and drafting philosophy (draft on defensemen with your 2 picks you didn’t trade away), the Pens are perpetually backed into a corner and need to then trade more assets and picks for depth players that normally would be filled in via draft (or minor trade or low-cost free agents). As soon as the team identifies a player they want, that player knows they can demand more because the Pens had no other options. The team could, of course, not sign the player and, instead, keep signing Craig Adams and Mike Rupp and Tanner Glass and Joe Vitale. So, when people bitch and whine and bemoan Nick Spaling, keep in mind that Rutherford had his hands tied by the previous regime and had to sign a depth player to a slightly inflated contract because, frankly, there’s nobody to step in.

3. Mike Johnston is everything you want in a coach…you just don’t like his demeanor. Johnston is a calm, reserved guy. He seems aloof. He seems like everything has happened for the first time.

That’s actually the kind of guy I want coaching a team. He’s not some fly-off-the-handle lunatic every time something doesn’t go his way. He’s not working the refs like some strumpet at a massage parlor. He keeps a level, even head during and after games because he’s analyzing everything going on around him. He’s taking it all in, adapting, adjusting, tweaking, and reinforcing.

How are any of those bad qualities? Why do Pens fans want someone like Tortorella? Some screaming, ranting maniac who cannot help but make himself the story? Why? Because he’s an “ass-kicker” who doesn’t take shit from spoiled pretty boys? You know who else doesn’t? Joel Quenneville and Barry Trotz. They also happen to be hugely successful coaches who have earned the respect of their players and the rest of the league, as opposed to demanding respect because they have loud voices.

Mike Johnston just completed his first season with a completely broken team and franchise. Let’s see where things go next year. Only then can we truly assess what kind of coach he ultimately will be. He has the qualities a great coach needs. It’s up to him make the team his own now.

4. Jim Rutherford is more than competent and actually did a good job of changing some of the culture around the team. People want to make him a failure. Those people are also morons.

There has been so much lamenting for the departed Shero and Bylsma tandem that it’s sickening.

What these people have shown is that they have been watching the Penguins since February of 2009 when Dan Bylsma was brought in. It also shows a willful ignorance to understand anything about the sport on a grander scale.

Jim Rutherford came into a situation where he could not win. There was too much already broken for him to be able to fix in just a season. And, frankly, he isn’t the guy who is doing the fixing. He’s keeping the ship afloat while a leader emerges among the cabal of assistants.

Maybe, just maybe, he knows what he’s doing. Maybe Jason Botterill, the savior and Angel of the lingering Shero devotees in Penguin-land, isn’t all he’s cracked up to be. For someone who is allegedly a wizard with numbers, he sure allowed the team to go to financial Hell this year.

And who took the blame? Rutherford. Because that is what a leader actually does. Maybe none of those GMs-in-waiting are any good. Maybe they are. All I know is that the organization didn’t trust Botterill with the keys to the kingdom after Shero got fired and the cap became their enemy this year. Who ever would have guessed?

5. Salary cap is both the friend and enemy of this team. The Pens are a team that is notoriously strapped for cash and up against the cap. Assuming the NHLPA uses the elevator, next year’s cap will be a solid increase.  The Pens, for the first time in a long while, actually have a borderline substantial amount of caps pace to use this summer.

The roster will see some big changes. Most notably, Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff will come off the blue line and off the books. That’s 9 million just from two guys who aren’t “needed” any longer.

I suspect, and I have no evidence to prove it, that Lapierre may be the only UFA to return. I’m not entirely sure what Beau Bennett does, either. They could keep him or they could let him walk.  Either way, the roster will change.

The defense will see changes, too, but they will be cheaper, younger, and faster. Assuming all players return healthy (that’s a different discussion), the team should (and will) buyout the contract of Rob Scuderi. Even with the dead money, the cost savings from the buyout + replacing with a cheap ELC is a net positive.

In theory, the Pens will have between 15 and 20 million to sign necessary players.  Which leads me to…

6. The as of right now roster. As I see it, and, again, I am an idiot and don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground, this is how I see the roster shaking out

Top 6 becomes any combo of the following:

Perron-Crosby-?
Hornqvist-Malkin-Kapanen.

Pens need to address the top 6 wing position, but they have the money to be a legitimate player. What they don’t have, necessarily, is the means to make a trade for one unless they are willing to move a Dumoulin or Harrington.

Bottom six becomes a combo of:

Kunitz-Sutter-Dupuis
Spaling-Lapierre-Farnham

I don’t see the team buying out both Scuderi and Kunitz. And Scuderi is the more important buyout. I don’t really see a spot for Bennett if Dupuis is healthy. Yes, I know, Dupuis could fill the spot on Crosby’s RW, but I think he’s better served in the bottom six. I may be wrong. Likewise, I really think Bobby Farnham has earned a place with the team. He’s a psycho who is tough as nails and can just annoy the shit out of a team. Put him with Lapierre and I can enjoy a good troll show.

On defense, I see it like this:

Letang-Maatta
Pouliot-Cole
Lovejoy-Dumoulin/Chorney/Harrington.

I could see the team carry 7 D and roatate guys in and out of the bottom pair. Regardless, that defensive corps has a lot of skill and speed and natural instinct, but not a lot of experience. I think all of those players, though, fit what Johnston wants to do and their inexperience will be a non-issue come playoff time.

That’s where I’m leaving things for now. I will hopefully have time to look at some other aspects later in part 2. Who knows if Part 2 ever actually happens.





Please read, watch, and vote

30 03 2015

Hey guys,

I don’t do a lot of this type of promoting and begging, but the times they are a changing.

My school is participating in the annual Fox50 Lipdub challenge and we have a chance of winning $10,000 for our school. We are a small school and getting the word out there is integral to having a chance against the bigger schools.

Please go to the following link and vote for the video for “Cross Creek Early College High School.” This was my directorial debut as well as my planning and design. My Glee Club did an amazing job planning it and pacing it, practicing and designing the whole thing. Our kids put time and effort into creating posters and dances and routines for each room. It took a ridiculous amount of work and I would appreciate your votes.

You may vote as many times as you like and every vote matters. Please help spread the word and help us win $10,000!

The link: http://fox50.upickem.net/engine/Votes.aspx?contestid=162653

Go there and vote “Cross Creek Early College High School”





The Penguins vs reality

8 02 2015

The following is transcribed from a series of Tweets I made on Sunday afternoon.

Guys, it’s time for some

Maybe this is a shock to you, but…*psssst* The Penguins are not going to win the Stanley Cup this year. They never were going to. This season was lost years ago when the at-that-time management and coaching group continually drafted poorly (or not at all courtesy of trading away picks for rental players). Can’t continue to draft only one positional depth and waste those talents year after year and be a legitimate team year in, year out. They gambled and went all in on 2013 and Dan Bylsma and his “system” lost the gamble.

In one off-season and 2/3 of a played season, Jim Rutherford and his company have done A TON to wash out the stink of the Shero/DB years but it will take at least one more to get this to be Mike Johnston’s and Jim Rutherford’s team. Too many bad personnel on continuing contracts coming into this year. Just enjoy what we have – which is a Pens team that is, for the first time in years, fun to watch.

If by some miracle the Pens make it out of the 1st round, consider it a rousing victory. Anything beyond round 1 is gravy. GMJR has done a lot of great things – trading away Neal for a more reliable, less problematic goal scorer, bringing in Perron, getting Ehrhoff on the cheap for a year, giving Mike Johnston an opportunity in the NHL, etc. He addressed immediate needs at the draft AND addressed depth. Jim Rutherford did more FOR the Penguins in less than 1 calendar year than Ray Shero did in the last 5.

And, imagine that, not being a xenophobic assclown opens up the possibilities in terms of personnel. Amazing who you can find when you open yourself to the possibility that people with European sounding names might actually, you know, be capable players.

So, Ottawa, you have fun with Ray Shero when you inevitably hire him to replace Bryan Murray. Enjoy when he hires Dan Bylsma, too.

Is Mike Johnston perfect? No. No coach is. Babcock has his faults. Quennville makes boneheaded decisions. No coach is -perfect-. Because HCMJ has made some weird choices and mistakes does not magically make him a failure. He’s a rookie coach. He needs to learn, too. Hell, you bunch of goat pokers gave Dan Bylsma 5+ years to learn and defended him to the ends of the earth. Many of you still defend him.

Dan Bylsma was the exact perfect guy to come in AFTER the Therrien regime. He more-or-less allowed the players to play up to their abilities. 2010 was excusable – two deep Cup runs and Montreal caught lightning in a bottle. 2011 can be thrown out because of devastating injuries. 2012? That was probably the best Pens team headed into playoffs and that series vs Philly was lost ENTIRELY on the back of Dan Bylsma.

I know, the players need to play, but that was entirely a failure of leadership from the coaching staff to keep that team glued together. And, of course, we know what happened in 2013. The loss to Boston was truly, truly embarrassing. And we’re not even going to talk about how Iginla was used, the picks for Douglas Murray, and the absolute refusal to try anything at all different against the Bruins.

Last year was, to the surprise of nobody who had been paying attention, another laughable failure. Shero’s abject REFUSAL to fire DB was his undoing. He had to prove, above all else, that Ray Shero was right. Just as Dan Bylsma was more concerned with proving that Dan Bylsma was right. It was no longer about what’s right for the team. It became what was right for Ray and Dan. The team paid the price.

So, the poor drafting continues and the trading away of valuable picks continues and the young players who did get drafted languish in the AHL or get shipped out for nothing or get lost to waivers. And Shero refused to fire Bylsma until there were no other options.

Mario and Burkle had to step in and fire Shero. And “allow” the new GM to fire Bylsma. And I am PERFECTLY OK with how he was handled. His stubborn fuckery cost that team years of the prime of so many star players. Let him twist in the wind and miss out on a job or two.

So, here we are. The Pens are going through what should have happened last season if DB/RS had been fired after the BOS series. So, instead, because of Shero’s hubris, we wast, effectively, two more years of these players primes. There is no guarantee they would have won any more Cups, but you would at least be trying something different in the primes of the career arcs for these players.

So, enjoy what we’re seeing now, especially the play of the “new” Marc-Andre Fleury, and try to keep the jam levels low. They’re not winning a Cup this year. But there is a LOT to be excited about and, frankly, it’s mostly thanks to the miracle Rutherford has been able to create since June. over and out.





I’m not dead

4 01 2015

Guys,

Really, I’m not dead. I have paid to keep this domain alive this long. I just don’t have time to write, but, given how this semester is shaping up, I fully expect I will need to write in order to save my sanity.

So.

Here we are. I’m not dead and, well, I’m not dead. I make no promises about writing because, frankly, I know I can’t keep them and I hate writing checks I can’t cash.

I’m not dead. Not yet.

2014 is gone. 2015 is here. Walt is alive.

Deuces.





Where Do We Go From Here?

7 09 2013

Bienvenue, mes amis.

It’s been a while since I posted. Pretty much broke that promise of regular updates. The only thing consistent is my inconsistency.

As you have likely gathered, the school year is in full swing and I am, as per usual, up to my neck in work. Don’t take that as necessarily a bad thing, because I do, truly, love what I do…but I do put in some ridiculously long hours and I am grossly underpaid for the work I (and the vast majority of others in the profession in this state) do. Just because I get paid poorly, though, doesn’t mean I’m going to slack off. I could, but I won’t. Believe me, I’ve had enough terrible jobs for terrible pay where I effed around so much I should have been fired a thousand times over. I would push that envelope just to see if anyone would ever fire me. It pretty much never happened (there was one case, but I did get to cross off the “you can’t fire me! I quit!” routine off the bucket list).

I love what I do. There were really only ever two things that called to me and I could see myself doing for a living, and one called way more than the other. I love working with young people. I love exploring new ideas and concepts with young adults. I love to smell the lean calories burning as I challenge every perception of life and world the students have ever had. I love that my students, on the whole, hate me and my class while in it, but love me dearly and thank me for putting them through Hell after it is over. I love my job.

I really don’t mind the completely insane hours, either. Yes, there are times when I wish I wasn’t putting in 80+ hours in a week, but at least it’s a purposeful 80 hours. I’m not spending 70-80 hours slinging freight at the Walmart where I have 20 different supervisors who never worked a day’s hard labor telling me I need to cut labor costs and drive sales or I’ll be looking for a new job in 3 months. I’m also not paid nearly as well as a Walmart manager, which is truly sad, but that’s the way of things.

As pretty much all of you know, North Carolina is a horrid place, especially for education. There are some bright spots in the state, such as Asheville and Raleigh, but those do not, even remotely, outweigh the craptacularity that is the rest of the state. No level of awesomeness in Boone can make up for the utter shittiness of Fayetteville. Unless you are wealthy (or content living in abject poverty), North Carolina is not a place to be. I was discussing this with some other teachers as the year was starting and I made the declaration that the bottom is going to fall out of this state within the next 10 years unless major, sweeping changes are made.

There was a study recently conducted by Public Policy Polling (an admittedly slightly left leaning polling firm) that said prior to the 2010 Tea Party madness and, really, the 2012 election of Pat McCrory and his cronies, North Carolina was in the top 10 of state favorability. Per PPP’s findings,

While southern states generally found themselves toward the bottom of the list, North Carolina was an exception. It polled among the ten most popular states in the country, with 40% of voters rating it favorably to only 11% who had an unfavorable opinion.

There has been a drastic shift in the two years since that initial polling data. The favorability has dropped to 30%, a loss of 10%, and the unfavorable vote has more than doubled, going from 11% to 23%.

While still above water with a +7% favorability, that 7% ranks NC right at 40th place for popularity nationwide.

40th. It dropped from top 10 to 40th place. The commonality? Retroactive, regressive, caveman policies of a dangerous Republican-controlled legislature and governorship, an approach to “small government” that made it so small it could fit in any woman’s naughty bits, which, as we know, is exactly where government belongs.

The ludicrous abortion restriction law was passed by the legislature as an amendment to a motorcycle safety law. Gov. McCrory had pledged during the campaign that he would not sign into law any additional restrictions on abortion. So much for that one, Pat.

Add on to that the insane loosening of the gun control policies and practices here, such as easing the regulations on conceal/carry and expanding the places where a concealed weapon could be carried…not a good situation. I mean, come one, there is absolutely NOTHING bad that can happen in North Carolina in, say, March while at a bar with a legally concealed weapon. Nah, nothing happens in the heart of the ACC in March or April. There aren’t too many colleges of note down here. People’s allegiances aren’t that strong. Nothing crazy could happen, and certainly not with alcohol involved. What ever could go wrong?

And then you get to people like us – the teachers. We are all paid the same statewide. We receive state salaries. Some counties are able to pay a little extra in supplements in the summer, but not all counties pay well. Cumberland county, thankfully, pays a decent stipend. That stipend has been the only reason I survived the last two summers without spiraling into debt or having to borrow huge sums of money.

I am now entering my 3rd years in the state. I have received no raises, which is somewhat expected, and will not get one, at the earliest, for another 2 years (or 3, depending on where you draw the lines – year 6 will be the first raise, and it will be, hold on to your hats, $1,200).

At my current salary, which is $30,800, I make just that much too much to be classified as poor and, thereby, ineligible for most forms of public assistance. My take home pay, after taxes, deductions, etc., comes out to $1735/month. And we do only get paid once a month.

I really want you to let that roll around in your head a little bit.

I never entered teaching to get rich. I know it’s not a career that pays well. If I wanted to get paid, I would work for some multinational and focus only on the bottom line without giving a damn about how I got there. I never really wanted before, nor do I now, to be rich. I’d like to not have to worry if I’m going to make it to payday, but that’s nothing exclusive to me.

Hundreds of thousands of people, many with families, are living day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month. I don’t stand alone in living so tight against the budget. It is a systemic problem in this country. And, for what it’s worth, you can really trace most of this back to the Reagan years and the necessity of the double income household.

I’m good with my money and, thankfully, living alone. I can make my $1700/month work, but barely. Sure, if I’m up against it I can cut out some leisure activities/pleasures, such as television. I don’t need TV, but I enjoy having something to relax to when I come home each night. I could eliminate plenty of small creature comforts to make ends meet if I had to. I am thankful that I am not in that position.

I am also not getting much ahead of the game. I’m paying down some debt, sure, but not paying down others *cough* student loans *cough* because I just can’t. Even if I cut out things like TV and my Netflix subscription, I cannot afford to pay my usual bills, buy food, and pay my full student loans each month.

I really want you to think about that.

That isn’t taking into account all of the stuff I pay for out of my own pocket for my students or our school. This year our school has moved to a new photocopy policy – we can make as many copies as we want…because we’re buying our own paper. We were given one case of paper (5000 sheets) to last the year. Once that’s gone, we’re on our own for making copies.

In the grand scheme of the year, an extra case of paper is, what, 45? 50 bucks? That isn’t so bad, really. Except you can’t pay 5 dollars a month for 10 months to buy the paper. And when you’re spent to your last dollar each month, it makes things a little difficult. Again, I am eternally thankful that I can manage my money well enough that I can afford a few extra each month and still be OK. Not everyone is in the same boat as me. Paper is just one small thing, but it is emblematic of a crumbling state that is so in tune with its own dogmatic bullshit that it is willing to destroy itself for some alleged higher purpose (that purpose, apparently, is to become the first negative tax state where lawlessness runs wild and women, blacks, Hispanics, and teachers are second and third class citizens).

I buy sanitary wipes and cleaning products for my classroom out of my own pocket. I always keep a stash of peppermints on my desk for both myself and the students. Those, while cheap, are not free. I have to purchase my own manilla (or, if I’m feeling fancy, colored) folders for the kids. I have to purchase lined paper for my classroom. None of these are huge purchases, but they do add up.

I could very easily say “No, I’m not giving you guys folders to use to submit and organize all of your materials for your research paper(s),” but does that really accomplish anything? No, it doesn’t. That’s just being difficult for the sake of difficult. And I know I’m not the easiest person to live/work/coexist with, but my kids don’t deserve that. I even recycle the folders when possible. I’ll apply the white out and write in new names each year. You want to know how bad it is? When the students see me doing stuff like this and say “Geez, the struggle is real for you, Mr. [name redacted].” Have I mentioned that we’re a Title I school and are approximately 80% black and Hispanic, and the no. 1 criteria for admission is the student must be 1st generation college attendee? Our kids know that the struggle is real…and when the students are offering to buy stuff for the classroom, you know your state fucked up along the way.

So, why don’t I just quit and leave? It really seems simple, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t that simple. Don’t get me wrong, I am personally miserable here. I hate the idiocy of the state and being poor, but I love our school so much and I love what we are doing for the kids in our community. I love my coworkers and, really, I know that I, along with the rest of the staff, am making a difference in the lives of these young people. No manner of dislike for the state and the town in which I reside can be greater than the reward of the job.

So, no, it’s not such a clear cut thing. I do desperately want to get back to PA, Pittsburgh in specific, but I do have a known quantity here and it is, as Raymond Carver put it, a small, good thing. I’m OK with making my life my job. Our kids need it. I don’t have to balance all the things many others do. I don’t have a wife or girlfriend. I don’t have children of my own. I don’t have to worry about finding the balance between the hours for our program and the hours needed for home life. I can work 70+ hours a week without much of a problem. I’m not a social butterfly to start, and I really don’t find much redeeming about Fayetteville. I’m OK with focusing on work on the weekends and each day during the week. I’m OK with it because it serves a purpose.

And that’s a big deal. For years before coming to NC, I was in perpetual pursuit of purpose in my life. Teaching does give me purpose, and that is the biggest, most powerful factor for me. Despite my ongoing battles with loneliness and depression and so on, I’m never weakened to the point of breaking because I do something meaningful.

But, still, we are grossly underpaid and overworked in this state. And NC is a right-to-work state, so, there’s no union representation. Whoever would have guessed where there are no unions the workers would be badly abused? We’ll ignore the laughably poor pay we receive. The state of North Carolina is doing away with tenure for teachers. Are there some who abuse tenure rules? Sure. But there are just as many terrible teachers who keep their jobs because they have a winning record as a coach. Let’s not pretend like this is a one-way street. The state is taking away what little job protection we had. Until a few days ago, they were also going to do away with Master’s pay (those with a Master’s degree or higher received a slight increase in salary), but, magically, Gov. McCrory found some money in the budget to continue paying those with advanced degrees. Because, you know, when you have a recruiting and attrition problem with professional teachers, the first thing you want to do is take away job protection and incentives for continuing your education and improving your practices.

This state truly does not know its ass from its elbow and it is quickly going to realize it must pay the piper. As it continues the ideological spiral downward and outward, we need to ask ourselves “where do we go from here?”

Notes:

The PPP poll can be found here

The North Carolina salary scale can be found here (pdf file)

Additional reading:

The blog, Teaching Speaks Volumes, is incredible. I highly recommend you spend some time there. This post caught my attention over the summer and I’ve been stewing over it for some time.

The blog “Making Our Way” also caught my attention as our school year was getting underway. A truly remarkable and moving post here, which said a lot of what I and so many others wanted to say but couldn’t find the words.








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