By Life in Limbo
I wasn’t going to go.
I’ve become tired of dancing to the same old song and, sorry, I was just going to sit this one out. And I’ve already seen all of the paintings in the European Masters room. While I love Rembrandt, THSC, could you please move the fairs to a different gallery? I think the Surrealists make a better backdrop for this, anyway.
But my inner masochist had been looking forward to this all week, and she’s such a whiner when she doesn’t get her way, so off I went.
The “job fair” was supposed to start at 2. I arrived at about 1:45 and the line to get into the museum was already snaking through the Brooklyn Museum patio. I ran into a friend from my original school and I mentioned that I had been unable to print my ticket. He told me he had the same problem (printer trashed due to hurricane flooding) and said to speak to the lady at the head of the line so I could go in to get a ticket.
I walked up to the woman at the door and she was engaged in a friendly conversation with a colleague. I waited. She made it a point to ignore me, so I finally just went in and got on the line for my ticket. A few seconds later, she was behind me, shouting. “Move over here! Yes, YOU! I’ll speak slowly. MOVE…OVER…HERE."
I had no idea she was speaking to me until she got up in my face. I looked at her and she said, "Did you not SEE that there happens to be 100 people outside? Or do you think that you don’t have to wait like the rest of the world does?” I explained that I just needed to get a ticket and wasn’t cutting to get in. “You didn’t cut the line? Oh, you certainly did! I saw you – you walked right past all those people like they wasn’t even there and just come on right through that door like you don’t got to wait for nothing.” When I asked if I was on the right line to get a ticket and then RETURN to the BACK of the line, she said, “Wait on this line here,” indicating the line she had pulled me off of.
After getting my ticket, I returned to the BACK of the line, which was now to the edge of the museum property. It was snaking onto the sidewalk shortly thereafter. I looked at the people with me and was, as usual, amazed at how many teachers here were over 35. If seniority decides excessing, then there must be an administrative game afoot because in every school I have seen it’s the 25 year olds who are in classrooms while the rest of us go to endless “job fairs”.
I soon made another startling realization. There was a conversation next to me between a THSC person and a teacher whose entry was questioned. The teacher was asking the THSC person for her name. She refused to tell the teacher her name. “Say you spoke to the Hiring Center” is what she said, but she would not give out even her first name. So I started looking at these THSC people and saw than NONE OF THEM have names. Their badges said, “THSC Support” or “THSC Placement Adviser”, etc, but no one had an actual name. As a matter of fact, NO ONE in the place had names except for the teachers – even the principals/representatives wore badges that said simply, “Interviewer”. It was like being interviewed by a big, nameless machine - you don’t know who anyone is; you are at a disadvantage because your name is in bold type for all to see.
I also noticed that the gallery was half empty. The entire back of the room was filled with empty tables, set up for schools that never showed. Plenty of teachers were walking around looking frustrated and sad. The newly excessed teachers look confused. I spoke to several Reading teachers, all of whom had between 10 and 17 years of experience, one with 22. So many others told me of being in a building 7, 12, 15 years and being excessed while brand new teachers have classrooms.
The saddest thing I saw was a male teacher about my age, who had two kids with him, about the ages of my older two. His name tag said, “Technology and Computer Science” and his kids kept pointing to tables saying, “What about this one, Dad?” or “This is a high school, Dad, how about here?” and he kept answering, “No, they don’t want me, they don’t want me.” My heart broke for this man, and my anger flared at a system that throws people on the trash heap like day-old bread.
There were others – the teacher who taught business electives at a closing high school, a drama teacher excessed because the dance room was being converted to a classroom in her overcrowded school, music teachers who were told there would be no band program for them next year, math teachers, science teachers, even more than a few experienced Special Ed and ESL teachers, who are supposedly in shortage areas.
But do you know who there was an abundance of? TEACHING FELLOWS! Brand new, shiny, sparkling Teaching Fellows! Everywhere! Even though the invitation e-mail specifically stated that this “job fair” was for ATRs exclusively. One of them was at the water station, complaining about the lack of positions in ELA and how this was a waste of her five weeks. I said to her, “There are about 2000 of us ALREADY in the system without positions. Until EVERY one of us is placed in a position, there shouldn’t be a SINGLE new teacher in this room, period. You think you wasted five weeks? Some of these people have put in 10, 15, 20 YEARS and this is what happens to them.” She said she had no idea that there were teachers already in the system without positions. Apparently, the DOE lies to the Fellows, too.
All in all, this “job fair” was just like all the others. I hope they consider changing the gallery for the next one. I have viewed all the paintings in this one. Do they have any by Dali or Miro?