The Blackboard Jungle

days spent beating back the seeds of doubt

Friday, May 27, 2005

It was with some surprise that I noticed my teaching union's headquarters are in Covent Garden Marketplace.
That must cost a pretty penny in rentals. One of the most expensive spots of retail property on earth, to be accurate.

Still, at £130* a year in fees from myself alone, I'm sure they can afford it.

(* $236 USD, factfans)

It seems the teaching unions can afford much much more than this. Last week I received a letter from the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, informing me on glossy colour print that this week, they would send me a survey, if I'd be so kind as to fill it in.

A letter sent in order to warn me that they would send me a letter? Someone has WAY too many subscriptions to play with.

When the survey itself arrives, it's catchily entitled 'Census'.

Census? Surely they're asking me to vote in their annual AGM? Or seeking a referendum decision upon exclusion rates for violent teenagers? Questioning me about my experiences of workplace bullying? Asking for my support in tackling the sudden increase in short term contracts? Looking to find insight into local issues as the local education department closes down and reopen with private finance the worst schools in the catchment area, handily shifting their more usual dispossessed students into my school as theirs is rebranded as 'desirable'?
These are the issues I pay hard cash every year for them to work towards.

But a census? A census is that pointless ten yearly scrap of paper that you try not to allow yourself to be marked down as 'jedi religion' on, stifling the yawns in the name of social progress.
cen·sus (noun)
1. An official, usually periodic enumeration of a population, often including the collection of related demographic information.
2. In ancient Rome, a count of the citizens and an evaluation of their property for taxation purposes.
After all, they deduct my subscription at source, from my wages - they must know who I am.

Turns out they do know who I am. The glossy blue A3 leaflet they want returned (postage already paid, naturally) has the first three pages filled in for me, through their funky database software.
I simply have to ratify that which they already know, sign it, return it, and congratulate myself on one hundred and thirty pounds a year well spent.

But wait! There is more.
I do have a part to play in this lavishly typed democracy.
They want to know what colour I am.

No, seriously.

More than that, they want to know my sexual orientation.

That's all, folks. Nothing more personal than my ethnic grouping and who, what or how I choose to engage in sexual congress.

No indication of how this is relevant to my classroom experience. They need it for their records, you know.

One letter unsubscribing from the Covent Garden based wankers' fatcat beano of an excuse for a trade union was duly sent.

[A brief hiatus will ensue as it's the half term holiday.

You may find me in Covent Garden Marketplace, throwing sharp objects at steering committees