Money Won't Buy Better Teachers

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hasn't said anything new about teacher pay increases, really.  The recap of his recent speech is "pay performing teachers with bonuses and recruit the next generation of teachers with higher salaries."

He said:  "The right way to [recruit teachers] is offer more pay and ask more of them as well."

Let me make sure I get this right. 

Understand that I fully support teachers being paid more for what they do, but the cynic in me just pops out when recruitment is the issue. I'm just not sure that presenting six-digit salary is going to attract the kind of character qualities in a person who should be teaching.

That is not to say that anyone making that kind of money is a bad person, but do I want money to be that person's priority for taking the job?  Really, what does Mr. Duncan think teachers want?

If I'd wanted to be wealthy, or if money was my goal, I would have gone into business or law school.  That is not why I teach, and no financial incentive is going to make me work any harder, faster, or better.

Additionally, my original salary (24K), the lowest in my state at the time, didn't stop this summa cum laude graduate from taking on a high school classroom. 

The second part of Duncan's statement is terrifying to me.  Ask MORE of teachers? Every teacher I know works tons of extra hours every week, kills him/herself in trying to reach kids, and crumples a little more each year under the mallet of state-standardized tests.

You won't elevate the teaching profession with money, Mr. Duncan.  Money doesn't equate to dignity or respect, contrary to the cultural definition.

Make the state give me back my classroom and let me teach.  Give me the tools I need when I need them.  Support me in my disciplinary measures.  Support my decisions when you're confronted with parents who may disagree.

And for every act of stupidity that one of peers manages to get highlighted on national news, have the media publish five more that show the valuable learning and caring that is actually going on in the classroom.

That's all I ask.