I’m not sure if it was in relation to my first post on the protests in Wisconsin or to a link to a news story, but I found myself discussing Gov. Walker’s attack on unions on facebook. I made the point that teachers have to fight tooth and nail for a living wage while the Wall Street CEO’s who drove our economy into the ground get multi-million dollar compensation packages. The person that I was debating came back with this comment.
“CEO’s get paid what they get paid because that is what the market bears. And I’m sure they work hard.
As do teachers. Teachers also get paid what the market will bear.”
All this proves is that “What the market will bear” is an absurd argument for determining the value of certain jobs.
In the state of Washington, the top teacher salary comes out to $64,531. That is for a teacher who has 16 or more years of experience and either a Masters plus 90 more credits or a Phd. I’m not certain how other benefits like health care and pensions play into that, but it’s not critical to my argument. If you want to double that number to account for benefits and pensions, go ahead. I would easily take the same position if teachers were paid $130,000 per year.
For comparison sake, Rush Limbaugh is under a contract with Clear Channel worth $50 Million per year.
So let’s compare. Teaching children in a public school for 16 years and getting a Phd. while doing so gets you $65,000 per year. Spewing hatred, lies, and racism over the airwaves for 3 hours per day gets you $50 Million.
Of course teachers get summers off and get to write of up to $250 in income at tax time for buying classroom supplies out of their own pockets. So it all evens out.
And what about failure? The right is all about vilifying teachers and blaming teachers when standardized test scores aren’t up to snuff. It’s all the fault of the teachers and their evil unions. Let’s take their money away. It has nothing to do with parents who are unwilling or unable to parent. It has nothing to do with the kids’s brains being clouded with junk food, cartoons and video games. It’s all the teachers’ fault.
What happens when a Wall Street CEO fails? The get a golden parachute and get to leave the company with more money than the best teacher will see in their lifetime.
The reality is that these pay scales are not based on what the market will bear. They’re based on what we as a society will accept. The people of Wisconsin have decided to no longer accept this status quo.