Image Attribution: Roberta F.
Public school teachers have staged walkouts in multiple states in protest for higher pay and more funding for public schools. When watching some of these teachers being interviewed, it is difficult to reconcile that individuals in our society with some of the highest education levels among us have to work side jobs and still not be able to make ends meet. One teacher said he could not afford to enroll his wife in the health insurance plan provided for him as a teacher. When reviewing a national list of average teacher pay it was eye opening. Starting salaries ranged from the low $30,000 range to the mid $40,000 range. After years of experience the top pay was still under $80,000. Don't look at the higher end salaries in a vacuum because they are often in very high cost of living areas. Let us be reminded that these are people with college degrees and some have multiple Master's degrees. With college degrees come student loans and debt. Many of these teachers are still paying off their own student loans and now their children are ready for college. Almost all of these teachers did into their own pockets to pay for supplies for the their classrooms and students. Why have we allowed teachers and our public education system to be starved for resources the way they are. Our public schools and the people that keep them going seem to have become and afterthought, just like the American infrastructure.
Our public schools have become the place children go to five days per week while their parents are working. The kids are dropped off, picked up by a bus, drive or walk to school five days a week and show up back home later in the day. What happens during that school day is not top-of-mind to the vast majority of Americans, but not to the teachers and students. Teachers deal with the issues, attitudes and behaviors students bring with them on a daily basis. Teachers deal with the lack of resources provided to them with undiminished expectations when it comes to performance and student test scores whether they can pay their bills or not. Being a teacher may be a calling, but it should not be a sacrifice through hardship and economic deprivation. We must think of our public education system as part of our national infrastructure and if it is not invested in, it will crumble just like our highways. Funneling money into the pockets of the wealthy at the cost of everything else is a recipe for disaster.
Thus far the walkouts have been in states that solidly supported Donald Trump in the prior Presidential election. There are dots to be connected that can not be ignored. Funding of public schools is a function of federal, state and local governments. President Trump appointed an anti-public school advocate as Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. DeVos is a supporter of moving public schools funds to private and religious schools. Teachers and those supporting them need to connect the dots and make sure they are voting in their best interests in the future. Teacher need to be thanked, appreciated and PAID!