Schools are open and they’re a mess. Thousands of teacher vacancies, some of the worst reading and math scores in 20 years, inadequate numbers of school nurses and other support personnel, not enough school supplies and declining morale.
Teachers feel underpaid and under-appreciated. Parents are worried, and administrators have been waving the white caution flag for so long their arms are ready to fall off.
And still we dither.
Slapping band-aids on problems that are gushing blood. Arguing endlessly over how to pay teachers and how much is fair. Adding fancy new locks to the schoolhouse doors while ignoring what’s going on inside the classroom and the minds of our kids. Deluding ourselves that it will all work out somehow. That schools can do better with the resources they have because the taxpayers are all tapped out.
Here’s the fact: Educating children is strenuous, complicated, time-consuming and incredibly expensive.
Here’s the other fact: Not educating children is even more expensive.
Have you ever bought an appliance on the cheap only to have it fall apart? Or gotten a terrific deal on a bargain-basement car only to have it end up in the shop for a major repair six months later?
That’s what happens when you cheap out on education instead of funding it as if it’s the most important thing you can spend your money on.
Ask yourself this: Would you tell an experienced brain surgeon you were going to look for someone who could perform your cancer operation more affordably? Of course not! You’d look for the best surgeon you could find and pay whatever it cost to get the job done right.
Teaching our kids isn’t any different! Parents learned during the pandemic that teaching kids takes skill and is tough sledding. So when the masks came off and the in-class teaching by the pros resumed, most parents were eager to get their kids out of the house and back into class.
They had a new appreciation for teaching. They learned first hand that schools are a lot more than day care centers with benefits. They learned that teachers are as skilled and professional as surgeons, plumbers or Mercedes Benz mechanics.
Why now are we cheaping out on the cost of education?
If you believe our kids deserve first-rate educations, you need to demand that the legislature whip out its checkbook. Pay teachers fairly, give them the supplies, equipment, support personnel and renovated classrooms they need and stay out of their way.
Failing to do that is like deciding to stop brushing your teeth. The pain may be slow in coming, but when it arrives, you’re in for a world of hurt. Don’t cheap out on our kids’ futures any more than you would your teeth!