Friday, April 08, 2011
Monday was a "Day of Action" for my union. We were asked to support our rights as members, the ones that have been taken away from other unions in Wisconsin, as well as to show solidarity with our colleagues who have recently been notified that they might not have a job next year. To do this, we were encouraged to wear pink, as a reminder of the pink slips that were handed out to six hundred plus teachers in our district. At our school there are eleven teachers who may not be working here next fall. That's two thirds of our staff. That's why I dug a little bit to find my bright pink Jimmy Buffett T-shirt. It caused a minor sensation. Perhaps because I don't tend to wear T-shirts at school unless it's a PE day, and also because I was only one of three teachers who chose to make this particular statement. As a result, no fewer than twenty different kids, most of them boys, asked me, "Why are you wearing a pink shirt, Mister Caven?" Apparently I had tweaked a sensibility of theirs that said that men should not wear pink. I told them that I was wearing the shirt to remind everyone of the pink slips that had been handed out to eleven teachers at our school. "You mean like tardy slips?" "No. They didn't get them because they were late, unless you mean they got here after I did. All they did was work here all year long and when the government ran out of money, they decided that the last ones here would have to be the first ones to go?" "Will my teacher have to go?" That's when the color of my shirt stopped being an issue. Suddenly they could imagine a world where their third grade teacher wouldn't be here, or the teacher they hoped would be their fifth grade teacher would be gone before they got a chance to be in their class. "And that's why I'm wearing a pink shirt."