I love teachers. I particularly love Catholic school teachers, the ones who shepherded me through the 1970s with love, skill, and dedication to craft.
And even though most of the professionals I came in contact with wore veils, there were a number of highly-qualified, accomplished lay women who taught me how to speak French, do a geometric proof, write a concise essay and dissect a frog (poor, butchered thing.)
And they deserved to make a good salary, but knew full well that when you work in a private Catholic school, the odds of getting rich are slim.
Back in the 1970s, when there was an abundance of nuns willing to teach for nothing more than the glory of the work, it was rare to hear of schools closing and teachers striking.
Not so today. The Philadelphia Archdiocese has announced that it will be forced to close 17 high schools this week because the teacher’s union is dissatisfied with the package offered to them by the administration. They want double the 7% raise offered over the next three years. They want job security. And they want more control over their classes.
I taught in a private Catholic school for a number of years, and understood that there was no guarantee that my job would be there the following year. “Tenure” doesn’t exist in the private sector, nor should it. I also understood that if I wanted to make money, I should go back to practicing law and not parsing French verbs.
Finally, I wasn't arrogant enough to believe that I was the final word in my classroom, and that the administrators had a significant say in what I taught and how I taught it. This wasn't public, after all, and we dealt with "First Amendment lite."
So while I respect Catholic teachers for their sacrifice and service, I can’t support them in their callous disregard for the children of the archdiocese.
I expect someone will come up with a snarky comment about the sex abuse scandal and how the archdiocese has done a lot more to hurt our kids than the poor Norma Raes on the picket line.
But if you ask me, that’s just a load of papal bull.