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   EDITORIAL: Teachers: $1,000 A Week for What?

EDITORIAL:

Teachers: $1,000 A Week for What?

About half the students attending Baltimore City Public Schools--nearly 50,000 of them--have been required to attend summer school to make up for academic deficiencies.

While it is great that "social promotion" is no longer routine policy, we have to raise the question: Who's really failing here--the students, or the adults paid to teach them?

Oh, we can hear the wails from the halls of academe: "Parents aren't involved enough." "The kids aren't well prepared in the earlier grades and can't catch up." "We don't have enough books." And our favorite: "We're overworked and underpaid."

Sorry, teachers: If you were really overworked, your students would be achieving better. If you mean by "overworked" that you're exhausted by having to deal with discipline problems and annoying bureaucratic busywork, that's one thing; but you can't say you're doing your job of teaching. Obviously not. (And your administrators are failing even worse, because they're not creating the conditions that make it possible for you to teach. That's their job.)

Underpaid? We think not. The average Baltimore City public school teacher has a salary in excess of $40,000 a year for 40 weeks of work a year--$1,000 a week, $200 a day for the weeks worked. We should all be paid so well. And yet how many of us in the outside world are paid at all if we fail to do our jobs?

Let's get real: Our kids--so many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds--need to be in school from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. five days a week, 50 weeks a year. There's no need for obsolete long summer vacations; there's no farming to be done. Perhaps such vacations could be accorded to students whose achievement levels are a grade ahead; but for the rest of the students, there should be additional enrichment activities, more one-on-one tutoring, and time for supervised homework.

Think this is draconian? Consider that this is how things are done in Asia (but they add Saturday morning classes, too).

If we cannot implement an all-year school program under the existing budget, then let's look at how it can be done. We've got about 1,000 teachers earning $1,000 a week, and God only knows how many administrators getting paid double that, who should be up to the task of figuring out how to do this.

Surely they won't resist. Surely they want what the public wants: well-educated children who grow up to be responsible, self-supporting citizens.

What about it, Baltimore Teachers Union?


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This story was published on July 3, 2002.
  
JULY 2002
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