More School Funding

Let me start out by saying that I like teachers. My kids are in the public schools, and the teachers I know do a good job. I am an education consumer. I am pro-education.

The argument is often made that we need to raise the salaries of teachers in order to improve education. I think there are a number of problems with this argument.

First, is it true? I have not seen any evidence that a higher paid teacher is a better teacher. Are we saying that the teachers we have now at our present pay scale are sub-par?

Because, obviously, money is a scarce resource. There is not an unlimited supply. Therefore, we should not spend one additional dollar on education unless that dollar will somehow increase the educational experience given to our children. In other words, teachers are in a market just like the rest of us; they are competing for our dollars. The money we spend on education is spent for one, and only one, purpose: to educate the students. It might sound cold, but the school system doesn't exist to ensure there are jobs for teachers. Or that teachers have health insurance. Or retirement. It exists solely to educate students.

Say you have a terminal condition and need an operation. You find a doctor who can perform the surgery for $100.00, and it will be successful every time. You wouldn't pay $125.00 for that surgery. And if you could get the surgery for $100.00, another doctor's pleas to earn a better living so he could have a new car or take a vacation would fall on deaf ears. You wouldn't pay any more than it took to get the proper surgery. Why should we pay more than what it costs for our children to get a good education?

Second, are teachers underpaid? I can tell you that there are teachers in our school system who do not earn much less than my base salary, and I spent seven years in college, I have a doctorate, and have been practicing law for 15 years. And I don't have anyone to provide me with health insurance and retirement, it comes out of my income. And I work 12 months a year.

Let's assume there are two teachers married to each other. One earns $36,000.00, and the other $39,000.00. This family earns $75,000.00 a year, and has health insurance and retirement. The median household income in Great Falls is $31,930.00. So, the two teachers have a household income over twice the median income, and they don't work all year long.

Third, we are constantly told that we have a good school system. Why pay more for the product we are receiving?

Fourth, does anyone really go into the teaching profession with the idea that he or she will someday live in a mansion and drive a Mercedes Benz? If so, I am not so sure that person should be teaching our kids.

I like teachers. I really do. And what they do is important and difficult. But I hear more and more parents complaining that the focus of the teachers seems to be less about the children and more on their perceived slight in the funding process. I am seriously concerned that at some point they will lose the support of the public. And then what?

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