There’s a piece in Time magazine about how teachers are in a pay crisis. Most of the teachers in the article say they can’t make ends meet with their teaching job.
So, why don’t teachers do what all the other people in this country do when we can’t make ends meet in our job? We get a new job. How many of us had to stop being a writer or yoga trainer or ceramics teacher so that we could support ourselves? Why does everyone else have to quit a job that doesn’t pay well but teachers don’t?
Some teachers say they are working for near-poverty-level wages because they want to change the system. But of course you cannot change the system as one teacher.
You could save one kid, maybe three kids, a year. But if you are going to work for a poverty-level hourly wage, why not use your time more carefully? Get a job that pays you a living wage. Then, on the side, pick three poor kids and follow them for fifteen years. Make sure they go to college. It’s a lot of work, but to be fair, changing the world is a lot of work, and most of us can only handle making a living wage.
There is no way for one teacher to change anything because the teacher’s union lobby donates more money to politicians than either the gun lobby or the sugar lobby. If the NRA is supporting vigilantes and the beef industry is the mob, then the teacher’s union is a cartel, making sure teachers receive exclusive perks like never getting fired and vacations all summer.
Those teachers who are supposedly staying in the profession to change the world even though they can’t live on their salary could change the world from a huge range of other, higher impact, higher paying professions. But the teachers don’t want to work summers. And they don’t want to have to worry about getting fired and job hunting and funding their own retirement.
So, the teachers’ salaries stay low because they have so many perks. And if the job was so bad then there would be a shortage of teachers, but there’s not – aside from the sciences. Also, here’s some number-crunching from the libertarians at Reason Magazine to show that most teachers make good money.
One of the biggest problems with public school is that it doesn’t matter where your kids go to school. If the parents are rich, the kids will do well in school. If the parents are poor, the kids will not do well in school. You can move a poor family to a rich school and nothing changes. Vice versa is true as well.
So, it doesn’t matter what teacher you have. For any subject. Because we don’t have class mobility in this country. And if you won’t fall down in rank and you won’t rise in rank, what is the job of the teacher? You can’t teach a kid to love to learn. All humans love to learn – we are one of the most, if not the most, curious species ever.
We should have a national conversation about what we want from teachers since we’re definitely not getting what we want right now. But we can’t have any sort of real conversation about school because the teacher’s union pays politicians to do what the teachers want them to do. And the teachers who stay and complain about pay are not competent enough to find a rewarding job that pays them what they think they’re worth. So how will they teach kids to do that?
The only thing our kids are learning from these teachers is that school is a good place to hide out if you are too scared to job hunt, and democracy is good only if the teachers can control it.