By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – January 3, 2020

It’s January already and it must be about time for the local teacher’s union to start their yearly whine about being under appreciated.  It usually takes the form of an increase in salary across the board that the local school district can ill afford, coupled with an additional plea for more money for health coverage and a myriad of other benefits.  It most likely will include some “poor me”, because I got to pay for more education and training to move up the salary schedule and make more money.  The theory being that they will be a better teacher and it would naturally follow that they would be more valuable. Is that the case?

To begin with nearly all teachers make more than the “regular people” in the County by a substantial margin.  Teachers work normally a hundred and eighty day schedule out of approximately a two hundred and seventy five day school year (late August to mid June).  They normally received some sort of pay increase nearly every year of their career either by step raise or increases in pay for extra education and training.  They can elect to have a fully paid two and a half month long vacation every summer.  In a normal year, the “regular people” in the County might just view that as a pretty cushy job all things considered.   Before the prison came to town many teachers were in the top five percent of wage earners for the County, dropping to the top fifteen percent for awhile.  As time has come and gone, they now have moved back up.

Understand, I am not saying some teachers don’t earn their money and then some.  The problem being that for years student performance has languished below the mid point of achievement state wide.   Granted state wide education is nothing to be proud of in California, 37th to 46th or 47th (depending on which site you go to) nation wide for pre-k through 12th grade for 2019.  While Covid-19 hasn’t done the district much in the way of favors, it would seem that educators who are purported to be the brightest among us would not stumble around for nearly a calendar year to come up with the chaos that has been the current school year.  It is not probably the time for the annual whine fest over needing better pay.  Hopefully in the coming months teaching time would be better spent improving your craft.  There is nothing about the way education is delivered to the youth of the County that is earning teachers much sympathy about your current or past problems.  The Country’s near complete lack of educational improvement over the last fifty years or so has nothing to do with how well compensated you have been.  Perhaps it is time to stop making excuses and get to work.  Once it is clear that a corner has been turned and the youth in this County have become well enough educated to face the world, only then perhaps you can go back to whining about how unfair it all is. 

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