If you live near the Puget Sound, you know that at least two school districts worth of teachers are on strike. Now, I can support most people who are trying to earn a fair living, but lets look at what they want, where they are, and what they're trying to get.
One of the school districts on strike is the Marysville districts. What's the average salary for that district? Funny you should ask. $54,179. How many of you out there make that much? I'm about $25,000 short of that, and I live in an area with a higher cost of living.
What's the average salary of a teacher in Washington? $43,470, as of reports from 2001-2002. So what's the average salary of teachers nationwide? $40,540, according to reports from 1998. Chances are it's gone up in the five years since then.
Add in the health benifits, and other perks, like a three month vacation every year, and ask yourself: Is that too little?
And then ask this question: Why should we pay our teachers more when our students rank below other developed countries? These people can't even get eighth-graders to out perform students from Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, Canada, Japan, Finland, Hungary, Netherlands, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia, but they want to get paid top dollar? Who are we comparable with? Bulgaria, Latvia and New Zealand. Fine. Lets get the average salary from those countries, and pay our teachers THAT amount. Wait, scratch that, there's a report that claims American 12th graders scored below every nation, except Cyprus and South Africa, in the 3rd international math and science series (2/24/98). And they want HOW MUCH more money?
And then, if it's not salaries, it's people screaming that our schools need more money. Oh really? Why are Korean students wiping their floors with our asses when it comes to education, and yet they spend less money per student than we do? And it's not even internationally. Washington DC spent more per student than any state, and yet their schools are a dismal failure.
So what's the answer? First of all, hire substitute teachers right frigging now. Get those kids back in school. Second, institute STANDARDS that must be met. Third, get rid of shitty teachers. Oh, you have tenure? Fine, but your students aren't learning a damn thing, you're out of here. Fourth, realise that throwing money at the problem IS NOT THE SOLUTION! And last but not least, get school vouchers up and running. Let the schools improve or die. Give parents the choice of where to send their kids to school. But tossing more money at the status quo is doing those kids, and the future of this country, a big disservice.
Sorry, Marysville teachers. You're already overpaid. Get back to work, or I hope to god they find someone who will do the job instead of you. Maybe if you weren't so concerned with just getting your piece of the pie our students might actually be learning something.