Because I try to start every day depressed and cynical, I watch the morning news. Sandwiched in between the weather forecast and a story about a ridiculously fat person who lost the equivalent weight of a bull moose by only eating Doritos for six months, was a news blurb about the teacher strike scheduled to begin in Chicago today.
Apparently these teachers are being oppressed and taken advantage of and have had enough of it. They are going on strike for better wages and health benefits. My initial reaction to this story, which I’m sure that I shared with every other teacher watching the news in the great state of NC was, “whatever.” Living and working as I do in the enlightened society of a “right to work” state, NC teachers have long since grown accustomed to being on the receiving end of financial bitch-slaps from our Fearless Leaders whenever they feel that they need a raise, a new car, or shinier tax shelters.
If the Chicago teachers can pull off their demands for better pay then I say more power to them. Just don’t expect me to care very much when the mean salary for a teacher in Chicago is more than twice mine and more than 20K more than the average salary in NC. Maybe the price of living in Chicago is ridiculously high and they are actually having just as hard a time making ends meet as the rest of us; I don’t know.
I’m sure that there are folks out there who right now are yelling at their computer screens that “if you don’t like it, move to Chicago!” and I’m equally sure that those are the very same people who think teachers got into this profession for the summers off.
As a people we have a very schizophrenic series of points of view about education. On the one hand as parents, we demand a world-class education for our children (currently we rank just behind the educational mecca of Poland at 17th). On the other hand as taxpayers, we don’t want to pay anything for education because we all know that schools waste money on stuff they don’t need. On the other hand, we’re convinced that teachers don’t know what’s best for children and when they tell us that they need things in order to be effective in the classroom we know that they’re full of shit. And finally on the other hand, we’re confident that we could never handle teaching ourselves (we can’t even deal with our own children!) and that teachers don’t make enough money for all the nonsense that they have to put up with.
So where does that leave us? I guess right where we are. Certainly it is a difficult problem that isn’t likely to change much in a short while. I knew that I should’ve gone into urban pygmy goat farming!