Why we should invest in teachers
To the editor: We are reaching a pivotal time in the United States where deciding the best ways to spend a finite amount of resources is at the crux of many national and international debates.
Locally, this has recently come to news headlines in the form of Mount Carmel Area's faculty demonstrations centered on teacher contract negotiations. Many people seem to be asking variations of the same question: why should we invest these finite resources in our teachers?
As someone who has spent his entire childhood growing up in the Mount Carmel Area School District and who is working on a master's degree, I can tell you why: teachers make a difference. There are very few people in this world whose professions have more of a direct impact on our country's future than those who teach our students. Teachers have the opportunity to positively shape and mold the upcoming citizenry of our global community more than nearly any other profession. Paying them the fifth lowest wage in the entire state of Pennsylvania is a slap in the face to those of us who realize the difference that educators make.
To put this in comparison, countries like Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Germany, which have consistently outperformed U.S. students, invest as much in teacher training as they do in engineer training. This is a direct result of the value that these countries place on the teaching profession. To hear citizens from this area speak of teachers the way that I have heard in the past few days is absolutely ridiculous, and is also a direct reflection of the value that is placed on our teachers.
As I made my way through the educational system at Mount Carmel Area, I was consistently struck by the levels at which most of my educators cared about us as students and wanted us to do well; it was rare that this was not the case. As a result, I have an immense respect for the work that these people do for our students, serving on the "front lines" and working to make our world a better place, one student at a time.
Anyone who suggests that teachers somehow are not justified the meager salary that they are currently living on has clearly never worked as a teacher, like the current members of our school board. Teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies because they care that much about their students to reach into their own pockets to give them the tools they need to succeed. Teachers come in early and stay late, working on unpaid time and, in the case of Mount Carmel Area, without a contract. More and more, they serve as parents, nurses, counselors and coaches in addition to teaching the hundred other students who walk through their doors each day.
It is naïve to think that we are going to get quality teachers to come into this district and stay here if we continue to place such a minimal value on the job they do. It's time that we as a community stop and think about how to spend our money to get the best return on investment. I don't know about you, but I am much more afraid of ignorance than I am of taxation.
Mount Carmel Area 2007