I don’t like pay cuts. Mine, nor anybody else’s. A contract is a contract. An agreed to salary is just that. But reality is also reality and this is the year reality bites – there really is not enough money to meet all of the obligations of the state.
But having said that, teachers continually make the worst possible arguments for exempting them, and them alone. First they tend to start with shame. At a recent forum in Pocatello discussing education budget cuts a teacher immediately played the “what we value” card.
“We need to start being a state that values education…” teacher Mary Anne Hanson opined, according to local television reporting (www.localnews8.com). Start being a state that values education? That’s a ridiculous position. Of course Idaho and Idahoans value education. We have a strong system, excellent teachers, technology, high graduation rates, etc. We’re not perfect, but our teachers teach and our kids learn. And we value that.
Then they play the “two victims” game. Oh, the kids will suffer, and teachers will just have to personally pay for more of their teaching supplies. Let’s look at both of these arguments. First, continued cuts to K-12 education certainly can reduce programs in our schools, and they can increase class sizes. Points taken, those are concerns.
However, the majority of Idaho’s schools have access to classes online, already provide much more than what is required, and internationally our obsession with class size is deemed silly.
As for teachers spending their own money in classrooms – that was the straw man in the 1970’s when I was a classroom teacher, and is the straw man today. Teachers are government employees, and as such are neither expected to personally fund their government agency nor should they.
Whether Postal employees or State Police, the employee should never pay to fill the gas tank, or put paper in the copier. Ditto for teachers. Their job is to teach their district’s approved curriculum to the students they are assigned using the materials provided. End of story.
Any teacher or government employee personally purchasing equipment for their work is cowboying outside their agency’s desires. And perhaps more importantly, “if” they buy essentials they undercut their profession by relieving the legislature of knowing the true cost of teaching the children.
It is unfortunate that this year the state may have to get into teacher’s wallets via pay cuts, but that is where it should end. Teachers should teach, and in fact demonstrate how much they value education in Idaho by promising their best teaching. No complaining, no martyrdom of personal spending, no stories of great sacrifice from taking classes in the summer. Just teach like never before. And the value will be obvious.