“I’m an Accountant” from Fred Klonsky’s Blog 10-11-11

It happened again Saturday night.

Anne and I were at a social event with people I didn’t know. We were seated at a table along with two other couples, both much younger than we are.

“What do you do?”

“I’m a K-5 art teacher.”

As I often point out, in the old days this answer would have produced a smile and a response like, “Oh, that must be fun.” There would be nowhere to go after that and we would move on to other topics of small talk.

Not now.

They always want to talk about tenure, seniority, firing teachers, contracts and test scores.

“You really want to talk to me about tenure,” I will ask?

And they really do.

In this case she worked at a non-teaching job at a charter school in a city I won’t name. She was young and obviously liked what she was doing. Her date smiled and sat back.

She challenged me on tenure.

I explained that tenure was not a lifetime guarantee of a job, but simply meant that a tenured teacher could be fired for cause. She didn’t know that.

She challenged me on linking teacher performance evaluation to test scores. Her school does it. Even she is evaluated on students’ test scores.

“That’s crazy,” I said. “You don’t even work with the kids. They might as well evaluate you based on the price of ham.”

She didn’t think that was funny.

She challenged me on tenure.

“We have teachers who have taught for only two years, and they’re great teachers.”

“No you don’t,” I said.

“What?”

“No you don’t. Nobody is great at anything they have only done for two years. You can’t be a great painter in two years. You can’t be a great basketball player, a plumber, or a writer. You certainly can’t be a great teacher in two years.”

I finally gave up and Anne and I went to the dance floor even though the DJ was playing Why Don’t You Build me Up, Buttercup.

As we were leaving, her boyfriend came up, shook my hand and said, “Thanks. She gets mad when I tell her all that.”

“You set me up?”

He smiled.

Next time I’m at a party and someone asks me what I do, I’m telling them I’m an accountant. They will leave me alone for sure.

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