30 March 2011

Survivor Indeed

I saw a copy of an email my dad received from a fellow teacher.  In it, the writer decided to create a “Survivor”-like game show wherein Michael Bloomberg, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and other assorted left- and right-wing politicians would e forced to take a teacher’s job for one school year.  They would have special-needs students, ESL students, and other types of problem students that teachers routinely deal with.  In addition, they would have to submit lesson plans, ad take care of all the bureaucratic nonsense that teachers face on a daily basis.  If any of these politicians were able to meet the standards by the state, they would get to keep their offices.

The point in all this is that a teacher’s job is really difficult, and politicians (and constituents) just don’t understand.  Of course, the per-student cost of education has risen over the last forty years while the results leave much to be desired, and these facts are conveniently left unstated.  But teachers, as is their wont, are still complaining about being underpaid.  (Note:  I think the testing methods used by the states to determine students’ knowledge is inherently flawed, but that doesn’t mean that I think teachers are doing a good, or even mediocre, job of teaching.)

Fundamentally, though, it is obvious that teachers don’t think actually think they are underpaid.  How do I know?  Easy:  teachers haven’t quit their jobs in protest.  That teachers still haven’t sought after new jobs indicates quite clearly that teachers think that working their jobs is better than working other jobs.

Sure, current economic factors play a role in teachers’ desire to keep their jobs.  But that’s true for every worker right now.  It’s not cruel or absurd to demand that workers become more efficient at their job s during a recession.  There’s nothing wrong with a boss asking an employee to forego a raise or increase output when the company is facing hard times.  This same principle should apply to teachers.

The states are out of money and revenues are down.  The states can no longer afford to pay teachers what they used to be paid or pay for system redundancies.  And so cuts must be made somewhere.  Instead of being proactive and choosing the least painful cuts, teachers are complaining about possible pay cuts in the middle of a recession.  Keep in mind that their employers, the taxpayers, have already cut back and made their sacrifices.  Is it really too much to ask for teachers to do the same?

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