This semester, unlike last semester, the students in my M.A. seminar better reflect RU's traditional graduate student population. Whereas in my class last spring only three of my sixteen students were public-school teachers, of the nineteen students who showed up for the first meeting of my new grad class, only three or four weren't teachers.
However, no more than half of the teachers are employed full-time in their own classrooms (which probably explains why some of them are in grad school in the first place). As we went around the room doing introductions, I heard about students who, though certified, had been unable to find jobs; students whose teaching positions had been eliminated; students who had been relieved finally to find jobs as "permament subs"; and one student who, though he was downsized the year before getting tenure, counted himself lucky to have found another job right away--albeit at a high school 45 minutes from his home.
Unions aren't perfect. The public schools aren't perfect, and neither are their systems of promotion and reward. But this Labor Day I'm hoping for secure jobs for more of the many talented, dedicated teachers I know.