The ‘Cry Me A River’ Story of the Day
Posted by Hube on 2011/11/07
A few years ago, Joe Therrien, a graduate of the NYC Teaching Fellows program, was working as a full-time drama teacher at a public elementary school in New York City. Frustrated by huge class sizes, sparse resources and a disorganized bureaucracy, he set off to the University of Connecticut to get an MFA in his passion—puppetry. Three years and $35,000 in student loans later, he emerged with degree in hand, and because puppeteers aren’t exactly in high demand, he went looking for work at his old school. The intervening years had been brutal to the city’s school budgets—down about 14 percent on average since 2007. A virtual hiring freeze has been in place since 2009 in most subject areas, arts included, and spending on art supplies in elementary schools crashed by 73 percent between 2006 and 2009. So even though Joe’s old principal was excited to have him back, she just couldn’t afford to hire a new full-time teacher. Instead, he’s working at his old school as a full-time “substitute”; he writes his own curriculum, holds regular classes and does everything a normal teacher does. “But sub pay is about 50 percent of a full-time salaried position,” he says, “so I’m working for half as much as I did four years ago, before grad school, and I don’t have health insurance…. It’s the best-paying job I could find.”
Life is all about choices, Joe. You freely left your job as a full-time teacher to pursue a degree, and then hopefully subsequent career, in puppetry. You freely understood that jobs in such a field aren’t very numerous, and the pay (and bennies)? Better than that of a NYC public school teacher? Heh.
“Surprisingly,” when this didn’t work out, you found you couldn’t be hired back at your old gig. At least not full-time. So, naturally, instead of accepting the consequences of your free (and poor) choices and either waiting it out until times improve and/or still looking elsewhere, you’ve decided to join the OWS movement to … protest the result of your freely chosen career moves.
Indeed, the article goes on to note Joe “was ‘totally won over by the Occupation’s spirit of cooperation and selflessness,’” and
… has already produced a museum’s worth of posters, poetry readings, performance-art happenings, political yoga classes and Situationist spectacles like the one in which an artist dressed in a suit and noose tie rolled up to the New York Stock Exchange in a giant clear plastic bubble to mock the speculative economy’s inevitable pop.
Just imagine how Joe could be supplementing his income using that energy at a part-time job (or two).
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