On Monday, Civitas posted an article about the North Carolina teachers’ walkout today. It’s called a walkout, but it is actually a strike. Schools are closed because the teachers have chosen not to teach today.
A Civitas article from May 9 points out the fallacy of comparing teacher’s salary across the nation–the cost of living in various states can be very different.
The May 9 Civitas article reports:
According to data compiled by NEA, the average salary for teachers in the U.S. in 2013-14 (the latest figures available) was $56,610. The average teacher salary in North Carolina in 2013-14 was $44,990. That figure ranks North Carolina 47th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The U.S. average national salary ($56,610) ranks 16th highest in the list.
…Let’s start with terminology. The very term “national average” implies a middle-range figure, not too high, not too low, somewhere in between. But is it? Are we really looking at a middle-range figure? We all know high numbers can skew averages.
That looks like exactly what has happened with the states with the highest average teacher salaries. Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, California and the District of Columbia all have average teacher salaries above $70,000. These figures have skewed the average salary upward.
A true “average” would rank the national average somewhere in the middle of the states. However, it’s not. The 2014 NEA Salary Rankings & Estimates says the national average teacher salary is $56,610. Fourteen states plus the District of Columbia have higher average salaries than the U.S. average. That means 36 of the 50 states have averages that are below the national average teacher salary. So it’s fair to ask: Is the national “average” really a mid-range figure?
Teachers’ pay has increased in recent years in North Carolina. The legislature has planned another increase in the upcoming year. Governor Cooper’s plan would give a larger increase, but then increase taxes. Governor Cooper’s plan gives with one hand and takes away with the other hand.
The May 14th article at Civitas lists the purpose of the teachers’ walkout as stated at the Durham Association of Educators website:
The essay on the DAE website demanding everything is a mix of idealism and snark, guaran-damn-teed to torch any straw man who questions budget allocations that are ostensibly “for the children.” The piece is unsigned, but almost certainly written by DAE president Bryan (“There are powerful forces aligned to steal our joy and snatch our students’ futures”) Proffitt; it has his earnest and unforgiving style.
The key passage in the essay reads as follows: “North Carolina’s educators, you see, believe in this radical idea that [all of our kids], every last one, should have:
- Nutritious food, clean air, and poison-free water
- Homes and neighborhoods filled with love and respite
- Physical and emotional health and the resources and knowledge they need to care for their bodies
- Emotional and physical safety
- Boundless opportunities to laugh and learn and grow with their elders and their peers
- Challenges that push them to test their limits while offering safety and grace when they inevitably fail along the way
- Meaningful work and joyful play
- Computers, books, clothes, balls, dolls…everything”
I wonder how many teachers have actually seen the list of things they are marching for. (In Russia, they used to call people who thought they were marching for one cause, but were being used for another cause useful idiots).
As an American citizen, I want the opportunity to earn all the things on the above list to be available to all Americans. Bringing that opportunity to all Americans would require bringing moral concepts back into our schools. It would require teaching our children reading, writing and arithmetic, as well as critical thinking skills. It would require promoting children to the next grade only when they have learned the necessary skills to succeed in that grade. It might even require bringing back the concept of God into our schools–letting our children know that there is a higher authority and teaching them to respect authority. The problem isn’t money–it’s cultural rot. No amount of money can fix that.
Teachers, your hearts may be in the right place, but your mathematics and critical thinking skills are not. You have wasted a day and been used for purposes other than those which you intended.