Matt Damon Shut-up!

If you haven’t seen the interview with Matt Damon where he defends teacher’s tenure, then you should watch it, which you can do here.  I don’t want to argue the positive’s and negative’s behind tenure.  Although if you want my opinion, I think it has major flaws, which I will briefly explain later, but I’m certainly not an expert on the subject, nor do I pretend to be.  My rant is more intended on the stupidity and ridiculousness of a statement Matt Damon made, or generalization rather, which irritated me.  This is what he said:

“You think job insecurity makes me work hard?” the actor asked in disbelief.
“A teacher wants to teach. Why else would you take a shitty salary and really
long hours and do that job unless you really love to do it?”

Okay, first of all, the salary thing irks me.  Not everyone has the opportunity to make millions in movies.  Not everyone can be a successful actor, writer, musician, professional sports player etc.  Furthermore, by his standards, most of the world is making a “shitty salary,” that doesn’t make them passionate about their job.  Does Mr. Damon really think that all teachers are passionate about their jobs?  That the only reason they would teach is because they love it?  Does he think that using words like “intrinsically paternalistic” make him sound smarter, an expert on the matter.  If he really thinks that, then he’s an idiot.  There are, without a doubt, tons of great teachers, but there are also tons that are burnt-out, hate their jobs, or who are just no good at them.

If we follow his theory (and if this isn’t his theory then he shouldn’t make unfounded generalizations)–people who make “shitty salaries” must be passionate about what they do because why else would they do it–then all of the people at McDonalds must be down right passionate about serving burgers, because why else would they accept such a “shitty salary?”  All garbage men must love the smell of garbage.  They have so much passion for collecting refuse, because why else would they accept such a “shitty salary?” (Actually, they make pretty good money, but not to Damon’s standards so…)  All factory workers, butchers, waiters, social workers, and grocers must be down right passionate because why else would they accept such a “shitty salary?”

I’ve got news for you Matt Damon, life is not a fairytale where everyone gets to be the leading man and make millions.  True, life is about choices and we all chose the profession we are in and what we do with our lives, but some people get stuck in the profession they’re in, like it or not, because it’s the only experience they have, so it’s either that or nothing.  Some people choose to major in environmental biology and then come to realize after two years in the field that the pay sucks and it’s not for them, but it’s too hard to get out because they can do little else with their degree or experience.  Most people have families to feed so they can’t afford to take a chance on something which may or may not work out.

My husband risks his life everyday for his job and gets little compensation for it, as do many others in his field.  It’s a job to him, a means to an end to put food on our table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs.  I wouldn’t say he’s passionate about it, yet, as I said, he risks his life and serves others day-in-and-day-out for a “shitty salary.”

If you’re a good teacher, you’re going to have job security, tenure or not.  In this interview, the journalist argues that teachers don’t work as hard because tenure gives them a level of job security others may not have (such as actors).  She implies that they don’t need to work as hard.  I don’t necessarily believe this, but what I do believe is that tenure makes it incredibly difficult if not impossible to get rid of an awful teacher.  For example, in college I had a professor that liked to buddy up to the students.  He was one of those I-want-to-be-cool-and-your-friend types, particularly with the female students, which is okay to an extent.  This teacher, however, was completely inappropriate.  He was constantly making sexual remarks, comments, and jokes to the point of sexual harassment.  He used to have this joke where he would pull the insides of his pockets out and start to pretend to unzip his pants, saying something about seeing an elephant (I don’t remember exactly what the joke was, but you catch my drift).  Well, this professor also had a temper, and one day he got mad about something ridiculous with myself and a close friend (it had to do with a magazine!).  I was pissed that he chastised us over something stupid and acted like we were children, so I spouted off about him.  I said that I didn’t care if he heard me, and he did.  Needless to say, he made our lives a living hell.  He almost kept us from graduating because he nitpicked our senior thesis’ and made himself extremely difficult to work with.  I went to the Dean and was surprised at how little help they were.  They had a ton of complaints about him and had been wanting to get rid of him for quite some time, but couldn’t because of tenure.  They wanted me to go through this huge process of filing sexual harassment, when all I wanted to do was graduate.  My point is, the only way he even had a chance of getting reprimanded, let alone dismissed, was if myself and others filed harassment charges.  Even then, they didn’t sound convinced that anything would even happen.  All tenure does in my opinion, is secure jobs for teachers who don’t deserve them, while other great teachers can’t find a job because there are no openings.  There are some amazing, passionate, teachers out there.  They don’t need to worry because that will shine through.  Cream always rises to the top.  They’ll keep their jobs, they don’t need tenure to do it for them.

Everyone has an opinion and they are entitled to it, but sometimes I get sick of these actors/actresses that give theirs with an air of superiority about them, like those who disagree are stupid or otherwise, and their opinion is gospel.  We need education reform in this country, and I am certainly no expert.  I wouldn’t even know where to start, but one thing I know is: Matt Damon, you need to just shut up.

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