The jabs Erin Parker has heard about her job have stunned her. Oh you pathetic teachers, read the online comments and placards of counterdemonstrators. You are glorified baby sitters who leave work at 3 p.m. You deserve minimum wage.
Ms. Parker, a second-year teacher making $36,000, fears that under the proposed legislation class sizes would rise and higher contributions to her benefits would knock her out of the middle class.
“I love teaching, but I have $26,000 of student debt,” she said. “I’m 30 years old, and I can’t save up enough for a down payment” for a house. Nor does she own a car. She is making plans to move to Colorado, where she could afford to keep teaching by living with her parents.
Even in a country that is of two minds about teachers — Americans glowingly recall the ones who changed their lives, but think the job with its summers off is cushy — education experts say teachers have rarely been the targets of such scorn from politicians and voters.
Yet all of these politicians and voters are able to express their scorn because of teachers. There is a dichotomy here. We claim to revere teachers, yet our actions show otherwise. Underlying all of this, is the scariest aspect of all: how little we value our children.
This report from the Children's Defense Fund has a lot of pertinent data.
The report provides a statistical compendium of key child data showing alarming numbers of children at risk: the number of poor children has increased by 2.5 million since 2000 to 14.1 million, with almost half of them living in extreme poverty, and 8.1 million children lack health coverage―with both numbers likely to increase during the recession.
According to the CDF report, children in America lag behind almost all industrialized nations on key child indicators. The United States has the unwanted distinction of being the worst among industrialized nations in relative child poverty, in the gap between rich and poor, in teen birth rates, and in child gun violence.
It isn't just working people we don't care about. At the very heart of the matter is how little we care for children. Our national priorities are in dire need of reconsideration.
cross-posted at MainSt/workingamerica.org