Today, my wife introduced me to a note on Facebook entitled, “Teachers Make Too Much Money.” Whereas the article sounded as though it would address overpaid teachers, it really made a mockery of the charge saying that teachers were in reality underpaid. The logic and spirit of the argument needs to be addressed in a more faithful manner than how it was discussed.
First, the writer speaks of how teachers are not paid what they’re worth and compares them to babysitters. As planning for silly lessons and being paid for vacations is facetiously dismissed, the writer begins to advocate for paying teachers $3.00 per hour as baby-sitters, but this soon escalates into a skewed argument and mentality where teachers should then be paid $3.00 per hour for each of about 30 children for each day of the week, about 180 days each year. This quickly turns into a sum over $100,000 per year!
Next, the writer advocates that for those highly educated teachers who hold master’s degrees, the public should pay them a measly minimum wage per hour, once again escalating to a sum of well over $200,000 per year.
The reader is left to feel guilty for paying teachers such a paltry sum of $50,000 per year for the unselfish, priceless task of teaching our precious children. No doubt scores of people are washing over Wal-Mart even as we speak, buying every last box of Kleenex in the store! Forgive my touch of sarcasm, but the argument, as well as the agenda behind such articles, provokes a passionate response.
When did we begin estimating the wages of a job based on how many are served? If we take this completely skewed logic and honor the rationale of the writer, then how much money should the young lady at my favorite Taco Bell get paid for the hordes of people that come through the door at lunch time? And what if she works a long day and serves the supper crowd as well? And if she works 5 days each week, by my estimate, she should be paid roughly $3 million per year! What a travesty!! The poor girl is definitely underpaid!
But let’s not stop there. What about the labor worker who works for the highway. How many cars drive down the roads that he or she works on each day? Or what about the clothing store worker who helps men, women, and children every day? Or what about the dental hygienist, or the call center representative, or the actual baby-sitter?
One question here: Does the writer of the article think that teachers should actually pay more for the baby-sitter who is keeping their children while they are teaching other kids at school? Because by the same logic, they are cheating their baby-sitter at an egregious rate each day!
No, we are all under the same expectation. We get paid for the jobs we do, not the number of people we serve. True, some get paid more because of numbers because they get commission, but should teachers then be paid according to their student’s scores on aptitude tests? Or maybe the SAT scores as compared to other districts? And if we go down that road for those who serve, where does it take us with other occupations?
The truth is…a society cannot sustain such a rationale. And Wisconsin is an example, but we could also look at our nation as a whole.
Since when should government teachers have the right to wave a banner of supreme self-sacrifice for teaching our children because they are so precious? Teachers SHOULD get paid enough. So should every person! The catch is that they need to be paid whatever salary the people can sustain, given the corruption of government.
Teachers do not deserve special consideration as a class above all others. God honors the heart of people, and the one who is constantly touting their selflessness for teaching others while also demanding higher pay than what others receive is demonstrating a selfish and ungodly attitude.
In Acts 2:42-47, Luke describes how the people were in unity, and they made sure that other members of the community had their needs met. It goes so far as to say that they sold what they had and gave to those who were in need.
While taking away taxpayer funded benefits and possibly cutting salaries is a long, long way from selling all that a person has, it would most certainly make it easier on others who don’t even have the same allowances. Taxpayers aren’t often asked if they can afford to pay government workers such as teachers; they have it taken from them in a manner of speaking. While politicians promise the world, seldom do their actions benefit the average American to the degree promised.
It’s sad to say, but government wants more money because it provides a bigger cash flow for lining the pockets of politicians, and if unions—which are a far cry from what they used to be—are involved, people are made to believe that all these things are done for them because they cannot fend for themselves.
In Matthew 25:45, when Jesus describes all of the people standing before Him as King on His throne, He shares the King’s response to those who were self-centered and unrighteous, “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”
In a broad society, people, including teachers and other government workers, need to ask what a fair wage in light of the condition of other people would be. As a minister, should I advocate that all pastors are worth at least $100,000 per year? For many of us hold advanced degrees that took much longer than a master’s degree in education, not to mention a bachelor’s. Should the untold scores of people who hold degrees and are working for minimum wage or for private companies at sustainable wages be considered not as worthy as government teachers?
It is not that teachers should be expected to give back their salaries, but the question is one of the heart—the heart behind the demand for rights and higher salaries. It is easy to lose sight of objectivity when your thoughts are on your own standard of living, and it is a trap that we are all in danger of experiencing.
Without discussing it in depth, the argument also exists that not only do many teachers not teach out of selflessness but they also teach anti-Christian ideas and values. The public school system is one of the most liberal, anti-Christian organizations in America today, and many times the passion of teachers is to take Jesus completely out of the lives of our children.
This does not apply to all teachers, for there are many teachers who do teach out of love and concern for children who also love Jesus with all their hearts; however, this is rapidly becoming more of a rarity. Needless to say, one test of a person’s heart is their actions, and making Americans pay salaries for teachers that are not consistent with the value of the job as compared to other hard-working Americans is not a good testament.
Let us be concerned about the wealth and riches that come in the next life, for in this life, people are most important. I have always found the best teachers are the ones who stand for the rights of others, not their own. That’s the kind of teacher I want…and the kind I want to be!