Who Do Teachers Work For?

First, why, in public education, are teachers paid, pretty much, all the same? In life, everything sorts. Some are good at something, most are not. Those who are good sort further into adequate, competent, good, better, outstanding, etc. Shouldn’t the best be paid more than the mediocre? Can’t the mediocre acknowledge their lot and either be content or strive more diligently?

Think back. Didn’t you have a few poor teachers? Weren’t most of your teachers good? Perhaps you had one or two really great teachers, perhaps none, very unlikely more than two. Obviously, the compensation and recognition of the best should be more than the lesser. (Some won’t agree. They have their reasonings and rationalizations.)

Back to the question: For whom do teachers work?

If I hire a teacher to tutor my child, obviously the teacher works for me. Of course, government-organized schools add several complications, but let us consider this simple case.

If I hire a teacher, we two set the pay. We two set the conditions and guidelines for the education. For the most part, I can alter any pertinent consideration, and the teacher can agree or tender resignation. Where circumstances set such arrangements, they are typically mutually beneficial, and mutually satisfactory and fulfilling. This one-on-one arrangement cannot exist in the public school, in the government dictated school. It is the nature of authoritarianism. (Perhaps some of the downside can be mitigated, but that is another topic.)

Let us assume the teacher and I have agreed her duties also include full supervisory responsibilities during the workday, such that she is caregiver for my seven-year-old as well as teacher. Perchance, she recognizes that just down the road, she could earn at least 20% more than I pay her. If she decides she needs a raise (or she will seek her fortune down the road) she can ask for a raise or other consideration. Let us assume I simply am at my budget limits. I cannot pay more or provide any additional consideration that extracts from my budget elsewhere, or I will fall in arrears. Assume I am blacklisted and no one will lend to me. I have no ability to pay more. It is reasonable for said teacher to give notice. She has no future obligation past a reasonable notice. However, would not all agree that she treats me diabolically if she calls me at work the next morning and states she will abandon me and my child at this very moment if I agree not to an 18% raise. (She asserts she is compromising, meeting me part way. Of course, she is also insisting I hire a helper for her.)

Think it through. How is a teacher walkout here in Oklahoma any different in the general sense?

Certainly, there are differences in the details, but how is what the teacher’s unions propose any less extortion versus what I suppose of this fictitious nanny-teacher?

Am I exaggerating that the budget is set? Am I exaggerating that no money can be borrowed? Am I exaggerating the example of extortion with the child held hostage at threat of abandonment?

You may not like my candor, but you cannot call me a liar. These are the facts.

Teachers in the government-dictated public schools still, notionally, work for the parents, yes? Of course, yet there are many complications.

While the ideal is that the teacher is accountable to the parents of the children in her classroom, the fact is, most of those parents are hardly involved. Sadly, most of those who are involved draw the ire of the teachers and administration for being meddlesome. Involved parents may help in one area, but such parents hinder accomplishment of legislative dictates and administrative objectives. If you doubt my assertion here, I consider it probable you are not significantly involved in your children’s school.

The practical matter is the teacher answers not to the parents, but to the signer of her paycheck. She answers to the principal, to the school board, and to the bureaucracy. Let us not overlook the complicating factor that the bureaucracy includes that of the school, that of the state, and that of her union.

In the final analysis, she works for and answers to the principal and this complex of bureaucratic requirements and expectations. When the bureaucracy demands she abandons the children, holding them hostage and extorting the parents, what else can she do? While she probably worries that she will not be paid while on strike, she knows she will not be paid if she is pushed out by the bureaucrats. Our teachers are in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t conundrum.

While the ground truth is harsh, the right thing is clear. Teachers owe loyalty to the students and the parents. If teachers abandon and betray the students and parents…

No one respects a betrayal. Cowardice is the one failing that always hurts, always hurts in every way, always hurts everyone affected, everyone who remembers, everyone failed by the coward, especially the coward.

Hate has its pleasures. Hate is too often used to cover the pain of cowardice. Blame and shame casting, likewise.

The simple fact of the matter is teachers are betraying those they work for and those for whom they are responsible. There is no sin greater than betrayal.

Frankly, if you can’t hack it, get out. What is the adage? First, do no harm. Only harm comes from betrayal. Accept responsibility and acknowledge the truth and stand faithful. Lead by example, not coercion.

Again, remain faithful. Lead by example, not coercion.

Micah 6:8