Please allow me to wax political here for a moment. If you don’t want to read my political ranting don’t click below.
What has roused me from my political slumber? An article by David Eggers – a staggering genius with some velocity– on low teacher pay. Mr. Eggers bemoans the low pay of teachers and the fact that they often have to work two jobs to make a living.
You know what I find fascinating? The fact that Eggers can write an article on teacher’s salaries without mentioning the highly relevant fact, IMHO, that public school teachers belong to unions. Hmm, I wonder if perhaps the particular legal organization of this profession might have something to do with how much they get paid! But not so much as a hint about it in this little rant. Do you suppose that Mother Jones is a big fan of unions?
The elephant in the room during any discussion of teacher pay is the bald fact that unions are a hindrance to better pay. Why? Because a closed system of labor where the best and the worst teachers essentially get paid the same is never going to allow for high pay. Unions might be able to blackmail successful companies into over paying them but school systems can’t because there is no profit to be made in tax payer funded education. If a company has a high profit they can afford to give in to union demands in order to avoid a costly strike. In the public sector where funds come from taxes this means political backlash. The only people who do well in this system are the mediocre teachers and the administrators.
Let’s face it, it is very easy to get an education degree these days. If you are willing to sit through hours of multicultural mumbo-jumbo and psychobable you can breeze through a degree and get a job. Pleas don’t tell me that it takes a great deal of study to earn a degree in secondary education. I went to college with these folks you know. Here in Columbus you can start at around $30,000 for nine months a year. There are very few majors that require so little and reward you with a union job at a decent salary. The problem is that if you are a dedicated and skilled teacher who cares about your subject there is really no way to make a significant change in your salary. Far too many take the masters degree in education administration and go to work for the district where the money is better.
Unions hurt the talented at the expense of the mediocre. Other professions that pay well require specific skills, higher levels of intelligence and more risk. Doctors have high student debt and high stress jobs not too mention a challenging curriculum to say the least. Computer techies usually need numerical or scientific aptitude or at least the temperament to code. They also can get dumped real easy if the economy changes. Teachers face none of these challenges and are practically guaranteed a job due to collective bargaining and teacher shortages.
The sad thing is that the unions and the education colleges refuse to change and are in fact continuing to push against any and all reforms. Here in Ohio their response to teacher shortages was to make teaching degrees a five year program. Yeah, if you have a shortage of something make it harder to get!
What is also laughable is the fact that a college professor can’t walk into a high school classroom and teach. I taught at a community college after I got my masters. I could teach students there no matter what their age (some were high schoolers getting advanced credit) but I couldn’t teach at the local high school. Tell me why this makes sense.
Supply and demand allow people to properly evaluate worth, if you mess with it you skew the price. The combination of public funding with inflexible unions means low pay. Eggers can complain all he wants about how society doesn’t value teachers but the fact is that unions value security and power more than they do excellence.
End of rant.