Dear State Leaders Who Don’t Treat Their Teachers With Respect,

  You guys are really short sighted idiots. Let me explain in a language that you hopefully can understand:

1. Teachers are teaching your kids. Your kids! Our kids!  All of our kids!  Show them some respect!  These people will spend nearly eight hours a day, five days a week for more than half a year with our kids.  That is over a thousand hours a year with our kids (in Michigan, the minimum number of hours is 1,098). For 12 years of school in Michigan, that is 13,176 hours, or 1.5 years of your kids lives will be spent in a classroom with a teacher. Think about how much influence those teachers have on your kids. Really think about that.  What types of feelings do you want the teachers to feel when they come into work?  Do you want them to be completely pissed off at their environment because they being screwed over?  Or do you want them to feel good about what they are doing and how they are being treated?  We expect teachers to basically leave their feelings at the door and just do their job.  If you were getting crapped on by your boss, could you leave your feelings at the door? Come on.

2. Teachers are some of the brightest people out there.  They have to be, since they are teaching our kids how to think about science, math, history, literature, health, etc. etc. etc. These people could probably get better jobs.  But they don’t.  Do you know why?  Because they love teaching!  But, you know what?  They will stop loving teaching if we as a country continue to take a dump all over their profession.

3. We NEED teachers!  If we don’t have the best and the brightest teachers, what is the next generation going to look like?  Idiots?  Maybe this is what you want.  Maybe you want Americans to be stupid because then they are easier to control.  I don’t get it.  Isn’t America’s slogan “USA!”? While that doesn’t really say explicitly “We are number one!”, it strongly implies it. It seems like our slogan should be more like “USA – Where we don’t give a crap about our teachers so the quality of education is declining, leading to an overall achievement gap between us and the rest of the economic powerhouses of the world! Yeah!”  Teachers are being treated so well in North Carolina that the number of people graduating with teaching certificates has gone down by 25%. USA! USA!

4. People seem to think that because we have things like NASA, smart bombs, Google and Apple, that we are the best in the world (USA!).  It may be that the most innovative people are from the US right now.  But, if we continue in our decline in education, then we really won’t have the most innovative.  Especially if we are teaching students only to take tests.  What a way to stifle innovation!  Let teachers teach how they used to teach!  Not to a test!  Interestingly, the number of advanced degrees going to foreign-born individuals seems to be rising dramatically, while the number of advanced degrees going to US-born individuals is decreasing.  This is for two reasons: (a) the quality of US students applying for advance degrees is going down significantly; and (b) the quality of foreign students has increased dramatically in the last many years.  When you are looking over applications for graduate school, you want to take the best and brightest.  Those are not the Americans.  Also, most of the students who end up not passing the qualifying examination to continue on to a Ph.D. are Americans.  There are probably many reasons for this, but education probably is one of the highest. And you can’t have a good education system without good teachers. And you can’t get good teachers when you treat them like crap.

  So, when you cut pay to teachers and take away their collective bargaining rights, really, what you are doing is shooting the country in the foot.  Isn’t it bad enough that we pay our teachers so little already?  I wonder what would happen to our economy if we actually paid our teachers more money instead of less?  We would get a smarter population that could actually solve some of our problems.  Instead we punish the teachers and effectively encourage students to drop out at an earlier age, thereby making our population even more dependent on the state.  Nice!  Do you guys really understand what the hell you are doing?


A concerned citizen



About aaronridley

Professor at the University of Michigan, Department of Climate and Space Science and Engineering.
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