People fascinate me. Yesterday I read on the opinion page of my local paper (the Idaho Statesman) a letter to the editor stating that the recent paycuts to teachers (required because of the economic downturn, not a choice anyone in the legislature would have made under different conditions) were a good thing. Quoting, he felt we need to â€œtrim some of the fatâ€ off of the education budget. He spoke of his teacher friends who stated the best parts of their jobs were â€œJune, July and Augustâ€ and admonished these spoiled-part-time-workers-with-full-time-wages to get a â€œreality check.â€
I was incensed, furiousâ€¦ I was downright perturbed. I ran through all of the comments you might imagine. Printable ones include, â€œwhat kind of idiot is this,â€ and â€œdo people seriously think this way,â€ you get the idea.
But then the reality hit me. Yes, Soren, people really do think this way. I looked at the letter a little more closely, looking for his real point, and I found it. He is concerned about the accountability and structure of the traditional family, and its values. He thinks that more of the emphasis on education should come from the home, and honestly, I agree with him there. Not at the expense of the public school system, or its teachers, but I do agree.
I think his anger is misplaced. He wants to blame someone he can lash out at and see a tangible effect exacted upon (teachers, in the form of a salary cut). However, the failure is not with the teachers; it is, as he properly advances, in the home. Unfortunately for him, his proposed solution (cutting teacher salaries) will not increase parental responsibility, it will simply make our first and best line of defense against the failureâ€™s he is concerned about weaker.
Having given this some thought, Iâ€™m no longer angry, I just feel a little sorry for what I perceive to be a misguided soul. I really hope, at some point, his vision of the world changes. Fundamentally, I think he and I would agree on a lot of things regarding family, parenting and guidance from the home. We probably share many of the same frustrations. However, taking those out on a group of people who are doing some of societies most important work, and some of societies lowest wages is not the solution to any of those issues.
As an asideâ€¦ Iâ€™m not sure what teachers he is talking about. I currently serve on the board of one PTA (I served on the board of two last year), I was on the strategic planning committee for one local school district last year and am doing so for another district this year. I have had a little exposure to teachers k-12, and none of the teachers I have spoken to have a three month vacation every year. This time is spent on anything from teaching summer school to continuing education so that they return better prepared to enhance the lives of the children they are entrusted with. And Iâ€™m not even going to get started (again) the amount we pay to other professions of far less import.