You Can't Blame the Teachers for Striking 4/6/2018

Henrico County, Va.’s Short Pump Middle School recently hired a “diversity director” to influence undesirable student behavior. The director’s annual salary is $99,000. Yet an Henrico County high school mathematics teacher's starting pay is $45,741. I was never good at math, but it seems to me that a Henrico County math teacher makes less than half of the County’s new social engineer.  

What is the new director going to do? Force black kids sit next to white kids in the lunch room?   

Meanwhile, across the United States public school teachers are striking for higher pay and cash for dilapidated or nonexistent classroom supplies. Case in point: West Virginia, where school spending has increased 39 percent since 1992, while during the same time enrollment dropped by 12 percent and nonteaching staff (district personnel, assistant principals, curriculum gurus, teachers’ aides, and the like) increased by 10 percent.  

West Virginia teacher pay during that period dropped 3 percent.  

It’s the same across the country. More kids are moving to private and charter schools but public school administrative staff numbers keep ballooning. When I was in school in the 1960s and 70s, we had one principal per school (of three and four grades), and sometimes an assistant principal, and an office secretary. I went to large schools in a major metro area. Now even smaller schools have a principal and assistant principal and secretary for every grade. Whereas we had one psychologist per school, there are public schools in the United States right now where nonteaching staff comprise fully one-half of school staffing.   

And now we have a diversity director to make sure there is equal distribution of everything by color, language, sexual orientation, religion, etc. Social engineering is what it is, and it’s at the expense of teachers. This latest is an insult to teachers, who are undervalued and marginalized at every turn. I personally know three young teachers who taught for two to three years—fewer years than they studied for the job—then left, swearing they’d never go back. Low pay, insufficient classroom supplies, long hours, administrative burdens that increase year after year, and disrespect from students and parents sends them packing, exhausted and disillusioned.  

But school districts keep demanding they are underfunded. Funds are allotted by state legislatures and communities vote for bonds to make up any shortfall. But the money doesn’t get to teachers’ paychecks. Where does it go? We both know the answer.