I wonder what might happen if we had no teachers. Or if few people wanted to be teachers. I'm thinking mostly of the K-12 classes that public schools enjoy now. In recent weeks a number of articles have crossed my computer screen alleging that teacher unions are the cause of this or that state's budget problems. If the state could fire "bad" teachers they (politicians) claim they would have a better school system and the state would not be in a budget crunch.
So I was thinking just the other day about a doomsday scenario. Just make believe but hear me out. Let's start with the premise that there are no teacher unions or education associations. Nada. Next, let's assume that the pay will be minimal--right now the beginning pay in most states is around thirty thousand dollars. But let us not forget we need to take out Federal Income Tax (automatic deduction in most cases) and FICA or social security of about two percent. You with me so far? Then there is health insurance that each teacher has to pay along with the school districts contribution. That varies from district to district and from state to state. But the take home pay is not much. Now let's cut the retirement contribution from the state to as little as we can. Maybe we ought to just say outright that the teacher ought to take care of their own retirement.
Let's add one more criterion--there is no job security. No tenure. There is a good chance that if you do stay for a number of years and get salary increments each year that given that fact, you could be fired in order that a beginning teacher could take your place at a reduced salary.
I'm trying to make a worse case scenario that is probably going to happen in a number of states--indeed, it is already has.
Now let's take an entering freshman at a local university beginning their career for the first time in 2012. One thing that many if not most universities do is mandate (I like that word--it has muscle behind what it means) different initial courses in a variety of subjects. World history, general sciences (perhaps a course in biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics), great literature, economics, a least one writing course, beginning philosophy, and several mathematical courses. The idea behind this mandate is to get the young college student to look at, consider, ponder, digest, and maybe wonder at what the world is all about. And somewhere in this mishmash of thinking a student might begin to consider what they want to do with the rest of their life.
I don't think teaching would be high on their list of possible careers. If I've heard my university's job placement center accurately, mathematics, all the sciences, and computer programing are where the jobs are--good pay, retirement, perks and health benefits PLUS parking! I've been told that in a few cases a graduating senior might even get a signing bonus.
I have already lost a number of my graduate students who were teaching to Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. They report a good salary, some stock options, and good working conditions. In one case my graduate student reported a salary twice what he was making in the public schools.
My question to this group of readers is why would someone go into teaching in this day and age? Even if you really wanted to teach, why go into public school teaching? There are teachers in the State of Washington that are presently studying for or have already received their certified board teaching credentials. And they are NOT going to get the bonus they were promised.
Do you see my point? States are going to GET the unions and perhaps even GET those so-called bad teachers. They are going to decimate the educational system. And who are they going to get to be the teachers? I wonder.
So what is the answer. I really don't know. If I had a graduate student right now that wanted very much to teach, I'd probably send them off to Boeings who just received a 35 billion dollar order for planes. Several of my students already work at Boeings and I know that they have a substantial training department. Maybe that would be a career choice. And I would look into private schools. As the public schools deteriorate, private schools grow larger. However, it all is a sorry mess.
You better thank your teachers for what they did for you before they retire. Several of them have mentioned to me that they might leave teaching early. My best to them all.