Should Teachers Make Big Money?

Sure, I have dreamed, out loud, of a day when teachers were valued half as much as professional athletes. I’ve imagined ways deserving teachers could get what’s coming to them. Teachers are some of the most passionate, hardest working people you will ever encounter, but do we really want them to make the big bucks?

Roasted and Toasted II by Justyne Fischer, art teacher
Roasted and Toasted II by Justyne Fischer, art teacher

You might have seen these musings played out in fun videos like the one from Buzz Feed Yellow called If Teachers Were Football Players. Fun stuff, right? It would be great if teachers got some respect. I totally support the idea that teachers should be more highly valued in our culture, but if we think a little more deeply about the things that would come along with that big paycheck (in the absence of other dramatic cultural shifts), it’s kind of frightening.

A December 31st article in the Washington Post gives a glimpse of one reality that could lead to big paychecks, but even the title of the article gives us enough to take pause: “In education-crazy South Korea, top teachers become multimillionaires.” Maybe some of us who are education crazy ourselves don’t see the problem right away. I mean, would it be so bad if our country was a little more “education-crazy”? The answer might be, Yes.

The Washington Post article begins to illustrate a sobering reality. Higher income for teachers comes with other costs. We must consider these before we start glorifying an imagined reality where excellent teachers are offered multimillion dollar contracts. Any of you who have been a loyal fan of a losing football team — any Redskins fans out there? — have probably experienced that head-shaking feeling at the end of another unsuccessful season. Coaches are fired, and players futures are thrown into question. Is that what we want for our teachers?

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One thought on “Should Teachers Make Big Money?”

  1. Reblogged this on WhatItMeansForArt and commented:

    I’m afraid this is one of those times when I hit publish before making absolutely sure that my message was clear. Teachers need to get paid more. I just hate the idea of an over-the-top-capitalist, profit-driven education system that makes the importance and pressure of school is so great that kids kill themselves because of it, where only wealthy families get great teachers, or where great teachers get fired because the school didn’t make first place that year.

    Many thanks to those who provided feedback! I would hate for anyone to believe that I don’t think teachers deserve more.

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