By State Representative, Leon D. Young
America now finds itself at an interesting crossroads. Over the next few years, it is estimated that this country will need one million new teachers, as more and more baby boomers begin to retire. (A baby boomer is a person who was born during the demographic Post-War II baby boom and who grew up during the period between 1946 and 1964.)
This impending shortfall of public educators is further exacerbated by the disturbing national trend that has severely undermined job security for many public-sector employees by restricting, or outright prohibiting workers from engaging in the collective bargaining process.
As we have seen, Wisconsin has become the embarrassing leader of the political attack now being orchestrated against the poor and working-class families in this country. But vilifying teachers is nothing new for the Badger State. Former Governor and now U.S. Senate hopeful, Tommy Thompson used teachers and its union (WEAC) as convenient political scapegoats back in the 1990s. He succeeded in making the case that state property taxes were so out of whack, solely as a result of the exorbitant salaries and benefits being afforded to teachers. Talk about pure political demagoguery!
Anyone, who knows anything about the teaching profession, knows full well that people aren’t drawn to this vocational undertaking because they are seeking to get paid. It’s just the contrary. Teachers are overworked, under-paid and, unfortunately, too lightlyregarded in terms of the crucial role that they play in maintaining a society.
While some are readily abdicating their responsibility to children, teachers are being called upon do more.
They provide meals, administer medications and, in many instances, willingly dig into their own pockets to buy classroom supplies. (Over the course of a year, a teacher will spend (on average) $500 of their own money.)
With all this being said — who in their right mind would want to be a teacher? In my view, short of parenthood, there is no greater vocational calling. A profession that offers the opportunity to shape the minds of doctors, lawyers and even future presidents.
If we intend to attract one million of our “best and brightest” to this vocation, then it’s time to stop vilifying this noble profession. Let’s give them the respect, compensation and resources they deserve.