Everybody knows you have to pay teachers more.
It’s the sort of clickbait, easy Facebook sentence to announce to a nodding public. It’s common knowledge, but isn’t it weird how little common knowledge an amount to actual change? Climate change has already noticeably changed my Boston home for the worse, as proven through scientific fact and wacky anecdote alike, and we can’t do anything. That’s because in America the “common knowledge,” -and thus the common people- have no power to do, just the power to complain, to writhe, to talk about what should be over the oligarchical insistence of what is.
So, we all know we have to pay teachers more, but let’s talk about why. And it’s not for moral reasons, or because of fairness and banker salaries, but for the absolute selfish, obvious reason that better salaries get better workers.
Let me explain.
Working for moral reasons isn’t a burden we put on others. Nobody here is expecting bankers to work for free. We don’t talk about the inherent rewarding nature of working in a cafe, in graphic design, in advertising or architecture or whatever real jobs still exist these days. Nobody, certainly, is asking app developers to work for free. Some of that is supply in demand- yes, sure, I’m familiar with it- but some of it is structural attitude.
We expect so much from teachers that working cheap is considered part of the moral package. We value teaching as something outside the traditional purpose of employment so we make it outside the pay structure as well.
That is very, very dangerous.
It’s emotional extortion to expect me to do the right thing in the face of self interest. The same goes for teachers. If we’re telling our best and brightest in a society obsessed with personal ambition and all its trappings to sacrifice themselves for some vague notion of morality, guess what? They’re not going to be teaching.
I’m listening to Rihanna right now. Bitch better have my money.
Teaching, in the age of Uber and on-demand services, may become something wholly different. It may become fragmented, the “learn-online” world that, while technically possible, doesn’t seem to have a chance against the sheer mass of porn on here. But, I think it’s going to be devalued. Teaching isn’t something that can be so easily profited from. And here, if you can’t profit, why bother?
Teaching will become the refuge of the lazy, a “finding yourself” two-year TFA break taken while people wait for life to actually begin. Teaching will become the entitled “I guess” job for second-rate thinkers, myself included.
There will continue to be good teachers. There always have been, through every cultural insult, teachers who work 12 hour days, who innovate and care and buy supplies with their own money. But they will dry out like a reservoir. It’s unsustainable to hope that people are going to do what they should against all odds. People roll back to their baser natures.
You can’t pay rent in thank-you’s.
And so, humbly, I suggest that we raise the starting salary of teachers to $68,000 a year. There’s a non-working warplane that America bought for $1 Trillion dollars- that’s $1,000,000,000- so don’t tell me we don’t have the money for a substantial bump.
Still, $68k is a lot of money for a starting, standard salary. It will bring out opportunists. It will breed competition. It will turn a drought of career interest into a surplus. People will work harder and slackers like me won’t even get a chance to teach unless we step our game up. The barrier for entry will raise. People will work harder. Teachers who deserve success will get it. Teachers who don’t will be overtaken by the horde of talented, eager people no longer discouraged by a lower price-point. Pride and greed will finally pair up with dedication and morality.
Humanity is selfish. We may as well use our baser instincts to benefit the commons.