In Utah, where the average starting salary for a teacher is $35,722, the Republican Governor refuses to believe that teachers should be incentivized by better pay to choose to teach, instead trying to guilt teachers to return to the profession by saying the children need them:
Gov. Gary Herbert, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson and the CEO of Envision Utah Robert Grow issued a plea Wednesday to Utah educators currently not teaching to return to the profession to help address the state’s teacher shortage.
A collaboration with Envision Utah hopes to re-engage former teachers who may be interested in returning to the classroom. They are asked to complete a questionnaire at returntoteaching.org to gauge their interest in rejoining the teaching ranks and to find out what it would take to get them to return to Utah public schools.
“Whether you’re a former teacher who left for any reason, if you once thought about being a teacher or you’re a current teacher, our students need and deserve you, each student needs and deserves you. We all need you. To those of you who left the profession, I invite you to return,” said Dickson.
Here’s the thing these Republican politicians don’t seem to understand: of course teachers choose to teach because they believe in helping children, but that does not mean teachers shouldn’t be paid enough to earn a decent living. Teaching is not solely an act of charity. It is also a difficult and valuable job that should be rewarded fairly. Doctors choose to be doctors in part because they want to help sick people, but nobody calls on doctors to sacrifice decent pay in order to fulfill that higher calling of helping sick people. Why are teachers treated differently? Teachers are valuable to society. They should be compensated fairly for the value they provide.
Unfortunately, Republican politicians don’t seem to be able to understand that. They repeatedly treat teachers as objects of derision or free-loaders living off government handouts, completely ignoring the value these teachers bring to their jobs and to society as a whole.
Like Mary Fallin, the Republican Governor of Oklahoma:
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin told CBS News that teachers wanting a raise is “kind of like having a teenage kid that wants a better car.”
“Teachers want more,” Fallin said. “But it’s kind of like a teenager wanting a better car.”
Or John Kasich, the Republican Governor of Ohio:
“There’s a constant negative … They’re going to take your benefits. They’re going to take your pay,” Kasich told former CNN anchor Campbell Brown, whose advocacy news site “ The 74 million” hosted the forum along with the American Federation for Children.
“If I were, not president, if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges where they sit together and worry about ‘woe is us’,” Kasich told Brown.
Or John Allen, Republican State House Majority leader of Arizona:
“They’re making it out as if anybody who has a second job is struggling. That’s not why many people take a second job,” Allen said. “They want to increase their lifestyles. They want to improve themselves. They want to pay for a boat. They want a bigger house. They work hard to provide themselves with a better lifestyle. Not everyone who takes a second job does it because they’re borderline poverty.”
“Most of us in this room have a second job. Good for them,” he said, adding he likes it when people use their “God-given talents” and try to make themselves better.
“That’s America. The idea that we are somehow torturing somebody if they have a second job is just ridiculous. And (teachers) have a long summer. What a great opportunity for people like us and teachers to go out and get a second job. Let’s all get a second job this summer,” he said.
Or Matt Bevin, the Republican Governor of Kentucky:
Hundreds of teachers and educators flocked to Frankfort to protest the pension reform bill, particularly an unpopular provision — a reduction of the annual cost-of-living increase in benefits of retired teachers from 1.5 percent to 1.0 percent.
“It’s about just straight up wanting more than your fair share,” Bevin said. “This is a group of people just throwing a temper tantrum.”
Gov. Matt Bevin, asked Friday about teachers leaving the classrooms to attend a protest rally in Frankfort, said, “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.”
Or Bruce Rauner, Republican Governor of Illinois:
Bruce Rauner, the multi-millionaire Republican Governor of Illinois, has vetoed a bill that would require all teacher salaries to reach $40,000 a year by the year 2022.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum salary for full-time public school teachers to $40,000 within five years.
Legislators approved the bill in May that would have increased the minimum full-time teacher pay, saying it would help attract and keep more teachers.
The bill would have increased minimum pay to $32,076 for the 2019-2020 school year, $34,576 for 2020-2021, $37,076 for 2021-2022 and $40,000 for 2022-2023.
The bill was passed in order to address a teacher shortage that has been described as being “dire and getting worse”.
Or Lynne Arvon, Republican West Virginia State Senator:
But state Senator Lynne Arvon has a message for the state’s teachers, whom are among the lowest paid in the country: the “free handouts” (like standard pay increases) are over!
“The teachers have to understand that West Virginia is a red state and the free handouts are over,” Arvon was overheard saying to an aide while the strike was still going on. Teachers and staff were demanding a 5% raise, as their insurance costs were going up more than their cost of living increase.
This demeaning attitude toward teachers by Republican politicians needs to stop.