by David Bruce
The recession that the United States is not in, according to government and business officials who want to keep their jobs, is forcing the hand of Wisconsin officials in respect to budget cuts for the coming fiscal year. These budget cuts, among other details, eliminate collective bargaining rights for many state employees, teachers among them. This particular event adds fuel to the debate of whether or not teachers are paid what they are worth.
This argument can be levied against any career. Certainly those people who work any hours and many hours for retail operations would say that they are not paid what they are worth, and many would argue that sports and entertainment icons are paid far more than they are worth. The issue in the instance of educators and in respect to the profession of teaching in general is in regards to the quality of education that we should be giving to our children and how we may accomplish that task.
Most teachers may argue in favor of labor unions to promote competitive pay and benefits and to secure their jobs. If this is the impetus for teaching, then why teach? The students are the focus. No, services should not come for free. Teachers provide a service than can never be measured in pay stubs and benefits, and teachers that perform admirably as measured by their superiors should be compensated accordingly. Unions, however, are another level of bureaucracy that benefits those at the top more than those people that they were originally chartered to protect.
Unions are another layer of government and business that takes the focus away from the students. Eliminate unions. Eliminate tenure. Resources may then be used to hire and promote teachers who do want to teach, and those that teach well should be paid their worth and prosper. Those that do not teach well can learn something new. This approach is not fool proof. Administrators have been known to take advantage of employees, but a level of trust must be established for the best interests of all parties.
Ultimately, the goal is to promote learning. The best teachers are a product of education and an innate desire to engage with students. This is not necessarily accomplished or fostered by labor union and government intervention, as is evident by the failure of No Child Left Behind and the ongoing feud between school districts and teacher unions. Students who learn, regardless of demographic, are good for and to themselves, their communities, and or country.