Friday, May 4, 2012

How much is a teacher worth?

Today I read the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer and learned that the outgoing CEO of Sunoco is receiving about $37 million in compensation for liquidating assets (i.e. shedding at least 175 jobs). 

Of course we want a robust economy, and I'm sure the SUNOCO CEO has a skill set that is valued by many. But I wonder if her skill set is any more complex than those of teachers who make hundreds of decisions on a daily basis.  These decisions affect the health, engagement and lives of 180,000 children across Philadelphia, and millions more across the US. 

Teachers are valuable.

At the same time, public education has been framed as THE leverage point to enrich our economy.  It has been said that we need college- and career-ready students who can help the US retain its economic prowess.  Yet I thought the purpose of education was to advance democratic equity.

A robust democracy is not at odds with a sustainable economy.

We need teacher leadership to ensure that smart policy influences curriculum, instruction and assessment.  We need effective working conditions so that teachers can flourish.  We need teachers to be seen (and see themselves) as professionals.  We need time to study and inform policy.

I know that all of us won't always agree on policy -- and that is a good thing.  But I'd like to believe that we see teachers as professionals who have the experience that is essential to dynamic education systems.  And if we take care of our teachers, we take care of our students and schools -- and our society.

How much are teacher worth?

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