Scott Walker - take note you creep:
WHEN we don’t get the results we want in our military endeavors, we don’t blame the soldiers. We don’t say, “It’s these lazy soldiers and their bloated benefits plans! That’s why we haven’t done better in Afghanistan!” No, if the results aren’t there, we blame the planners. We blame the generals, the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No one contemplates blaming the men and women fighting every day in the trenches for little pay and scant recognition.
And yet in education we do just that. When we don’t like the way our students score on international standardized tests, we blame the teachers. When we don’t like the way particular schools perform, we blame the teachers and restrict their resources.
Compare this with our approach to our military: when results on the ground are not what we hoped, we think of ways to better support soldiers. We try to give them better tools, better weapons, better protection, better training. And when recruiting is down, we offer incentives.
At the moment, the average teacher’s pay is on par with that of a toll taker or bartender. Teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education. In real terms, teachers’ salaries have declined for 30 years. The average starting salary is $39,000; the average ending salary — after 25 years in the profession — is $67,000. This prices teachers out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas, and makes raising a family on one salary near impossible.
The study compared the treatment of teachers here and in the three countries that perform best on standardized tests: Finland, Singapore and South Korea.
Turns out these countries have an entirely different approach to the profession. First, the governments in these countries recruit top graduates to the profession. (We don’t.) In Finland and Singapore they pay for training. (We don’t.) In terms of purchasing power, South Korea pays teachers on average 250 percent of what we do.
Makes you think. While I'm clearly no supporter of the authoritarian regimes in Singapore*, it's a ReThuglican wet dream, or of South Korea's terrible past, at least they understand the value of teachers. Finland, in goes without saying, is Scandinavian & is, IMHO, just a great place. Emphasis mine.
*Just like the U.S., Singapore has a large number of drug offenders in its prisons. Singapore has one of the highest execution rates in the world. Over 70 percent of those hung-by-the-neck-until-dead were convicted for drug violations.
Recently Newt Gingrich was on Fox New with Bill O’Reilly, and O’Reilly said that Singapore’s tough drug policies worked “swell”—especially with regard to mandatory drug abuse treatment—but that Americans would not have the “stomach” for such draconian measures.
Gingrich’s response to O’Reilly was: “Well, I think it's time we get the stomach for that, Bill. I would try to use rehabilitation, and I'd make it mandatory.” Of course I’m not suggesting that Gingrich believes that drug dealers should be executed, but his position demonstrates the lack of respect for basic human rights that one often finds among conservatives.