What is a job worth? In our lives we know the impact of people in different jobs.
Did a blockbuster movie change my life? No, it just diverted me for 90 minutes, and maybe a few more seconds after. What about watching the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup last year? In reality, it was a great, enjoyable diversion, particularly against Boston.
What about the physician who lasered the stones out of my two kidneys? Not enjoyable at all, but I am grateful for his skill and expertise. My dentist who fixed my crown? Good and deserving, even though it wasn’t cheap, but he solved a problem.
What about Mr. James Seaholm my high school teacher history years ago? Essential Absolutely invaluable. Priceless. Worth a shipload of gold. Without his and other teachers’ influence my life could have been a wasteland. What I am today, and anything I contribute to the world in my profession or good works is part of their continuing impact.
In reality, teachers are among the lowest paid professionals. The media induced impression is that teachers are well paid for poor performance — high costs and low results. Yet, politicians and so-called reformers pontificate that there’s nothing more important for our nation’s future than the education of our children. You would think that if our country values education that it would appreciate teachers and be willing to compensate them. But that is far from the truth.
In 2013, an average teacher salary Connecticut, one of the highest paying states in the nation, was $69,165, ranking it third among the 50 states. The starting salary that year for a teacher was $42,450.
Of course people use the old saw that the three best reasons for being a teacher are June, July, and August. They think teachers only work part of the year, with three months off, whereas the rest of us toil a full 12 months with maybe 2 to 6 weeks vacation. In addition, some think teaching doesn’t take talent or knowledge, certainly not as much as hedge fund managers [remember 2008?] or Madison Avenue sultans – you know the ones who make brain dead ads.
On the other hand, we are very tolerant of others who work 9-10 months, and their paychecks make teachers’ salaries look absolutely paltry. And to boot, local governments subsidize them through tax breaks and with public dollars used to build the places where they work.
You know who they are. They are purveyors of diversion — athletes and other performers. The average salaries per year [no, the figures are not lifetime earnings] for professional athletes are:
NBA Basketball League: $5.15 million
Major League Baseball: $3.2 million
National Hockey League: $2.4 million
National Football League: $1.9 million
Players in each of the sports have at least three months off. Yes, some must train, but teachers must also take graduate classes, teach summer school, engage in staff development, create curriculum and lesson designs, and prepare for the new year.
If we peel the onion farther, we see that Kobe Bryant ($28 million per year) earns $37,940 per field goal. Alex Rodriguez ($32 million) earns $253,968 per hit. Sidney Crosby in the NHL ($9 million) gets $600,000 per goal. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees ($20 million) earns $470,000 per touchdown pass. Sure athletes and entertainers have unique talent, but really how much is it worth to our society and the common good?
Oh, by the way, the highest paid public employees in 40 of the 50 states are football and basketball coaches. Talk about priorities! Professors and university presidents are far, far behind.
Most of us won’t earn in a lifetime[s] what some athletes earned in one year. But athletes are not alone. Joe and Mika, talking heads on “Morning Joe”, bring in $5 million or more apiece. But wait, Robert Downey, Jr. made $52 million for one film, “The Avengers. It would take a teacher in Connecticut earning an average salary 754 years to earn what Downey did for one movie.
But even athlete’s salaries fall short when compared to chief executives of corporations. In 2012, the median pay for CEO’s for companies listed in Standard & Poors 500-stock index was nearly 10 million. These are 2012 compensation numbers, and according to Forbes magazine. “Our report on executive compensation will only fuel the outrage over corporate greed.” The likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Howard Schultz of Starbucks, or fashionista Ralph Lauren earn more than six times the median CEO salary.
The real issue is what we value as a society. In reality we value diversion, not education. Professing the importance of educating our children is one thing. Compensating teachers in a manner that will attract creative and talented individuals to the profession is another. Degrading teachers deters creative and innovative people from considering teaching.
Shouldn’t teachers be respected as much as those who throw footballs, dunk basketballs, hit home runs, score goals, or pretend they are an ‘avenger’? In the larger picture those things dissolve into oblivion. Teachers improve and change lives through passion and commitment to help children. At the very least, we can provide them with the respect their mission warrants. Where would you be without them?