Fred Gottshalk, write-in candidate for Superintendent of Schools in Clay County, recently posted this on Facebook:
"Now that Gov. Scott has signed the bill that lets children attend ANY school that their parents want them to; who will the naysayers and the union blame then???? If a person does not like their job, for whatever reason, then they are free to find employment elsewhere. If a person wants more pay, then they should take more educational courses, to increase their personal value, while working towards advancement. If you just want to be a teacher, fine............That is a very honorable profession, but you should not expect the same salary that a CEO recieves.........."
Many of the comments that followed were appalling, but they were written by private citizens who are entitled to their opinion. The most egregious example was from a regular on the Talking Clay County Politics & More page: “Real teachers, honorable teachers, caring teachers teachers who are truly dedicated to student success, those teachers, are in the profession for the outcome, not the income.”
Statements like this make my blood boil. No one would dare make that comment about a male-dominated profession. However, we as teachers need to take some ownership for this perception. How many times do you see teacher shirts, signs, posts, etc. with the following phrase: “Teaching - I’m in it for the outcome, not the income.” How cute. But cute doesn’t pay the bills. Have we just given up on decent salaries? Do we not believe that we are on par with other professionals who are paid better and treated with far more respect?
Do people who say that we are “in it for the outcome” think that we can pay our mortgages with heartwarming stories about teaching a child how to read? When is the last time you paid your utility bill with a well-constructed lesson plan? When did grocery stores start accepting payment in the form of data-driven instruction?
I can assure you that I am an honorable, caring teacher who is dedicated to student success. I honor my profession and my students by demanding that I be treated like a professional. Many teachers have done exactly what Mr. Gottshalk prescribes: We HAVE earned higher degrees (at our own expense) to increase our personal value. What do we get for that in Clay County? A $2,000 supplement for a Masters degree - barely enough to cover the cost of the student loans we took out to earn our degrees. We don’t expect to be paid like CEOs, although I would argue that our value-added to society is much greater than many private-sector executives.
Educational outcomes and decent teacher incomes are not mutually exclusive concepts. Teachers are expected to work for practically nothing because “we love the kids”. Try that line on other professions. Don’t doctors and nurses love their patients? Don’t members of the military love their country? Don’t computer engineers love designing software?
To those who wish to pinch pennies on the backs of teachers: be careful what you wish for because you will get what you pay for.