Since Wednesday’s entry, I decided to pay a little more attention to the Wisconsin teachers union situation. In reading up and watching reports on TV (including the great satire of The Daily Show’s segment “Crisis in Dairyland”), I’m learning that one of the main reasons this is such a national story is that, in an effort to cut the deficit, Gov. Scott Walker is trying to cut the flow of tax dollars to unnecessary programs, which, in his opinion, includes public school teachers.
Again, the assumption is, public school teachers are technically part-time workers: they work five days a week, from 8 AM to 3 PM, and they have three months off of work. And compared to other workers, they have an incredibly high salary for doing such a small amount of work. Teachers are greedy and power hungry, and don’t deserve a lot of the benefits that they are receiving.
According to Salary.com, the average salary for a public school teacher in the US is just under $51,000. Comparatively, a Top Government Affairs Executive (which was Salary.com’s definition for both “State Senator” and “Governor”) is a little over $164,000.
With my basic knowledge of what each job does, I can see that these salaries are disproportionate to the duties involved. Teachers must provide educational opportunities for a wide range of kids with many different learning styles, deal with constantly complaining parents about how their children are being treated unfairly, plus a variety of other duties: meetings, conferences, lunch room duties, parking lot duties, grading papers, writing and grading tests, and keep up to date on current educational trends.
Meanwhile, “Top Government Affairs Executives” think up bills that will benefit the people they represent while simultaneously sticking to an agenda that, for the most part, does nothing for the people the represent. Then they propose those bills amongst much infighting and virtually no discussion, whereupon they vote on said bills. They make television appearances and talk about the opposite agenda that is interfering with their work. They get many phone calls and emails from their region or state asking them to vote a certain way on an issue, which they mostly ignore. Then they write books and go on extensive book tours. For many of these people, they spend most of a year debating whether or not they’ll run for president.
Both of these positions are payed through tax dollars. And yet Gov. Walker wants to cut salaries for teachers.
I’ve talked about taxes before, and while I agree that deficits should be reduced, I don’t agree with cutting necessary funding. Teachers go through a lot of crap every day. Their work day may end at 3 PM, but their duties continue on late into the night. I’m friends with one of my professors on Facebook, and I regularly see him on late at night, planning lectures and working on different assignments. And he only teaches a few classes.
Public school teachers work themselves to death every day, and they deserve a lot more than they’re getting.
If Gov. Walker wants to reduce the deficit in Wisconsin, he should really cut costs where it counts: some of his salary and benefits, some military spending. Keep costs steady with public workers and teachers, and work to spend less in general. There’s also the option of raising taxes on the wealthier of the state, which is an unpopular position to hold, but by bringing in more money, you can do more with your money.
I urge those who support Wisconsin teachers to stay strong. Gov. Walker will eventually have to back down, and no amount of bullying will change that.