Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Getting more than what you paid for

What is the profession that: (1) usually requires five years of university study to become licensed; (2) is claimed as one of the most important profession in the United States and world; (3) has an average starting salary of less than $35,000 a year in 2/3 of the states?

If you guessed education, you were correct. Of course, if you were a public school teacher, this was no news to you. And if all things were equal there might not be a concern. However, all things are not equal. The average beginning salaries: business graduate (BS degree) $52,500; financial manager $123,260, paralegal (associate degree) $48,000; beginning plumber (some training)  $41,116; sanitation worker - $35,283.

The sad truth is that our country’s direction is dangerously out of focus. For example, a glance at the federal budget shows a huge defense budget compared to an almost indiscernible funding of education. (Translate that: our military pilots flying aircraft and weapon systems  designed in other countries – not a pretty picture.) 

Critics like to point out what they see as deficiencies in education. My father used to say you get what you pay for. Of course, no one has ever had an expensive root canal have to be redone, or a doctor that made a wrong diagnosis, or a pipe job by a licensed plumber that had leaks, or money advice that proved costly instead of productive, and so on. There are no jobs or professions with perfect, or even near perfect records. And, of course, teachers get to work with individuals from all background and competency levels.

Raising the national teacher base salary to $50,000 would not guarantee that everything would be perfect.  However, it would certainly attract competent individuals and be instrumental in keeping the best.

Do we get what we pay for in education? Actually, my father was to a degree wrong. In education, we actually get more than what we pay for. Imagine what we might get if we upscaled funding.

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