I think everyone will have to agree that salaries are frequently disproportionate to the worth of the employee.
We read about professional athletes receiving ten million dollars a year, Wall Street executives receiving million dollar bonuses, and oil company chiefs receiving multi-million dollar bonuses. All this while we continue to go through the worst economic crisis in nearly a hundred years. Unemployment remains chronically at nearly double digit figures. The ranks of those on poverty continue to swell.
A college degree no longer guarantees anything. Neither does technical training. Young people scan the career horizon and are uncertain which direction to set their sail.
No one has more respect for teachers than me. My parents stressed education. My sister and one of my brothers have been teaching for thirty years. I have nieces and nephews who are teachers. I was once high school teacher.
I feel it necessary to give that personal endorsement to the teaching profession because of the firestorm the following comments are likely to ignite.
(Let me take a deep breath before I type this. OK, here goes.)
I am not in favor of paying teachers what they are worth.
Few professionals have been saddled with more responsibility in our country than teachers. Every time a social ill is identified, we turn to our schools to address it.
Teen pregnancy goes up – Have more sex education.
Obesity runs amuck – Have more exercise classes.
Teens are arrogant and disrespectful – Have classes on decorum and manners.
Teen alcohol and drug use escalates – Increase the number of hours of instruction on alcohol and drugs.
Middle school children are being bullied – Teach classes on countering bullying
On and on the list goes. If there is a problem, let the teachers handle it.
How valuable an asset are teachers to our society? They are invaluable!
How valuable an asset to our society are professional athletes, big oil executives, and Wall Street traders? I’d place them toward the bottom of my list. Not THE bottom. That would be reserved for child molesters and serial killers.
Why do people seek to become professional athletes? For the vast majority it is about the money.
Why does someone want to become a big oil executive? Power and money.
Wall Street traders? Money and more money.
And what does all that money get us? Those careers attract people who are egotistical, greedy, unscrupulous, devious, grandstanding, narcissistic and lacking moral integrity. Their career choice is a means to an end.
I don’t know about you, but those are not qualities I want in teachers.
Why are people attracted to teaching? They have been inspired by a teacher. They want to make a difference in the lives of children. They have a passion for sharing knowledge. They believe in possibilities. They believe it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. They are optimists. They have hearts of compassion.
Their career choice is the end of their search for meaning to their lives.
What would happen if we turned the income tables upside down and placed teachers at the top rung, giving them what they deserve? I’m afraid of the long term consequences of that choice.
Just imagine it. A first grader successfully recites the alphabet. The teacher responds by yelling, “Yes!” Then struts around the room like a banty rooster, pointing at themselves.
There are plenty of other careers to which this idea could be applied: social workers, child care workers, and certified nursing assistants, just to name a few.
I don’t know about you, but I feel more comfortable with having people in positions that matter who have chosen their career path because they are passionate about it.