WHEN we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers. We don’t say, “It’s these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefits plans! That’s why we haven’t done better in Afghanistan!” No, if the results aren’t there, we blame the planners. We blame the generals, the secretary of defense, theJoint Chiefs of Staff. No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition.
And yet in education we do just that. When we don’t like the way our students score on international standardized tests, we blame the teachers. When we don’t like the way particular schools perform, we blame the teachers and restrict their resources.I think this is a specious argument. The military has a function completely unrelated to teaching. It's dangerous to compare national security issues with domestic issues. When we don't get the results we want out of our military endeavors, the people who lead those endeavors are blamed and held accountable; they are summarily fired, relieved of command, and forcibly retired.
When a soldier doesn't perform as needed, that soldier is removed, relieved, or kicked out. In the cases where someone is shown to be incompetent, they are relieved of their duties and their career is effectively ended. It's a lot easier to get rid of an incompetent NCO than it is to get rid of an incompetent teacher.
But, the article goes on to make a pretty good point:
Compare this with our approach to our military: when results on the ground are not what we hoped, we think of ways to better support soldiers. We try to give them better tools, better weapons, better protection, better training. And when recruiting is down, we offer incentives.
We have a rare chance now, with many teachers near retirement, to prove we’re serious about education. The first step is to make the teaching profession more attractive to college graduates. This will take some doing.
At the moment, the average teacher’s pay is on par with that of a toll taker or bartender.Teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education. In real terms, teachers’ salaries have declined for 30 years. The average starting salary is $39,000; the average ending salary — after 25 years in the profession — is $67,000. This prices teachers out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas, and makes raising a family on one salary near impossible.
Teachers aren't paid enough? That's a story you could find in any decade and in virtually any year, of America's history if you wanted to dig deep enough for it. Here's an example of how they are underpaid here, and here's a counterpoint to that argument.
I cannot see myself in the teaching profession. I think it's a sham. We make so much noise as a society about education. We never do anything substantive about it.