Few things annoy your executive director like the prattling of people who laud public school teachers for taking on such a tough job for so little pay. Other than the fact that this silly sentiment has no relationship to the facts, why should I be bothered by it?* An article in last week’s Grand Rapids Press provides the answer.
Thirty-five Kenowa Hills Middle School teachers refused to meet with parents at an open house to discuss academic plans for the students. The teachers stiffed parents because they were aggrieved at having to attend an activity not mandated by their contract while their health benefits remained under negotiation. Art teacher Steve Leedy groaned to Press reporter Nardy Bickel that playing hookie was “the single-most difficult decision I had to make.” Considering that a suburban public school teaching slot is just about as undemanding a sinecure as the taxpayers provide, I believe Steve.
AWOL computer specialist Marcia Milanowski blamed the parents for not realizing how deeply the negotiations over health benefits have affected the teachers. Yes, of course. It is not enough that parents have to put in twice the number of hours at work every year required of the typical public school teacher to earn the money to pay for those health benefits. These parents need to also sympathize with the educators as their delicate sensibilities are being rattled by the routine process of contract negotiations.
This shows how much students, parents, and taxpayers are at the mercy of the public school teachers’ unions when the organized self-absorbed arrogance of teachers like Leedy and Milanowski is nothing like an immediate threat to their jobs. So long as parents have no choice but to pay the salaries and benefits of these people, the parents and their children are entitled to the loyalty of these public servants. If Leedy and Milanowski don’t think the parents lavish them with sufficient remuneration to merit their loyalty, they can always look for a better deal elsewhere.
(* Yes, of course, there are teachers who do a remarkable job. Indeed, I know one teacher in the Rockford School District who has taken on the thankless task of working with the district’s most difficult students and has earned every penny of what we pay him. It is the fact that so few of our public educators are willing to do this kind of work and so many are ready revolt at the smallest demand we make of them that it is evident that a perverse sense of entitlement, buttressed by the country’s most powerful union, is turning the teaching profession into a racket.)