No jeans on Friday.
That's how it started. That was the final straw that sent me into a blind rage and inspired me to write a blog instead of incessantly whining to my friends and coworkers.
Our school district has decided that teachers and administrators should no longer wear jeans on Fridays because "professionals do not wear jeans to work."
Never mind that most suit and tie businesses have casual Fridays, or that this is a horribly bigoted stance towards Old Navy models and A/C repairmen; we as noble, hard working, and highly educated teachers have apparently risen above corporations to a place of professionalism so profound, it required dress pants every day of the week.
...but here is where I have a problem. Despite my status as such a high ranking professional, our district has not given us a cost of living raise in 2 years. The amount isn't huge, but it helps offset inflation in the prices of groceries, utilities, and fantasy football buy in fees. We were also furloughed 5 days this year. Now granted, these were professional development days, but we still lost the pay that we would have had for attending those workshops. This effectively cut our pay this year by a decent chunk.
Adding to the fun, teaching positions have been cut and class sizes expanded. I don't care what amazing 55 techniques you have or how pretty I look in my Kohl's dress slacks; it is much easier to manage and teach in a classroom of 25 kids than 40.
Let us also not forget the extra workload that is being added. Not only are classes bigger, but we are also dealing with even more initiatives and school wide programs than in years past. For those unfamiliar with these terms, initiative means "crap that most likely won't work and will probably be discarded next year" and school wide program means "tons of extra paper work." This is in addition to putting in many hours after school working with students, contacting parents, and catching up on all the paperwork. It's getting to a point that my lack of increase (and now decrease) in salary is making the pay feel ten times smaller.
Trying to make our jobs a scene from 'Remember the Titans' isn't going to make a difference. Taking away the ability to wear jeans on Friday (a small but appreciated reward) just reinforces the low morale that has already permeated our district. We are working a lot more and getting paid much less. As I said to a fellow teacher friend on the phone today: "I would say I feel like I'm being prostituted by the district, but prostitutes probably demand more and get payed more if they have to do more."
Her priceless response: "And you know what...I bet they get to wear jeans on Friday, too."