(This is the fifth in a series from an interview regarding the business of education)
Examiner: I am curious. You were talking about some math teacher in Idaho who wasn’t very effective. Is he or she, whatever, still teaching?
Educator one: Last I heard, she still was.
Examiner: if she isn’t effective, how can that be? Isn’t that why we should get rid of tenure law?
Educator one: First, let me clarify that. She was not totally ineffective. She was effective with good math students. But, you ask why she was still teaching. There are a couple of reasons. First, at the national and state-level there is a greater push for more math classes, and at an earlier and earlier age. That requires more teachers. However, good mathematicians can find much better paying jobs outside of education. As a result, it is often very difficult to find math teachers of any kind for schools. Let’s be real, if you have good math skills and can find a job that pays twice what you would receive in education, where are you most likely to go? That school district needs math teachers, and they aren’t lined up waiting for a job with the schools.
Examiner: so we are back to money is that right?
Educator two: well, we really don’t want to put everything back on dollars and cents, because that is not all that teaching is about. There are rewards that go beyond finances. However, during our recent depression, when the money industry kept telling us that they needed to provide high salaries and big bonuses in order to attract the very best, obviously, money makes a difference. If education were the top priority, and teacher pay was doubled, there would be a much greater number of people going into the field. That gives you a much larger field from which to pick as well as just more teachers.
Educator one: And, I probably sound like I’m anti-military and anti-defense. I am not. I have great respect for how we have been helpful to the world. But we need to start looking ahead. Imagine that in 5 to 10 years if we don’t do more to start leading the world in training our youth, the guidance system for our weaponry and our aircraft, and trigger devices for our bombs and missiles, and all of the other technical kinds of materials will be manufactured in China or the Middle East. Then, what kind of a security program do we have for this country? If we don’t put in some dollars today, we may have nothing tomorrow. And the reason I pick on the military, is because that is the largest segment of the national budget. Congress has just been fighting over a few billion dollars – an amount the military spends in less than three weeks, according to the information I have.
Educator two: yes, if we could take, say, two months of department of defense budget monies and not start new education programs and requirements for the schools, but just put them into teacher pay, the number of individuals moving into education would increase dramatically. Our country really needs that.
Examiner: You didn’t answer the ideal school question yet.