When teachers deal with negotiations and start talking about salaries, emotions can run high. I’ve been on negotiation teams in the past. It’s rarely fun.
You see, there is a business end to schools. Largely, schools are about the kiddos and their lives and it’s hard to then begin talking about a school as a business. It’s darned hard to start talking with others about how much money one should make. Talk about touchy.
In my opinion, teachers have never made what they are worth. Well, most of them anyway. Some should be making the salaries movie stars and pro athletes make.
Some folks have lately asked me to share my opinions about our current negotiations. They want to me to put it in print.
I suppose people think, since I’m an old-fogy teacher that I can get by with saying whatever I want to say about this topic.
Just a few days ago, someone said “Well, Mark Tullis can put all this in print.” Yes, I could. I can’t believe someone would ask me to do it, though. Can you?
Part of me wants to lay it all out there. Part of me wants to get all bitter and negative and tell you how no one on the face of the earth knows what a tough profession it is and how we will never get paid what we should.
I want to tell you how we are required to do more and more every year. I want to tell you how no record seems to be kept of all the good we do, yet when we mess up, trumpets sound and there is gnashing of teeth.
I want to let you know that I once painted a stripe in the hallway during the summer and for no money, just because I wanted my workplace to look good. I want to add to that all the times I tutored or did something for a family and didn’t ask for a cent.
I want to tell you how my wife has two college degrees yet has always stayed at home with our younger children because we feel that it’s important. Although we’ve figured out ways for her to contribute to our household budget, I have always been the primary bread- winner.
I want to go on and tell you that not every teacher has a spouse who makes a comparable salary or a lot more than they do. We are in the minority, us primary breadwinners.
I want to tell you that, at times, I feel that folks who have left the teaching profession lose touch and forget what it’s like.
A part of me wants to tell you that I don’t think a lot of what happens in our profession is fair.
If I were to go on, I might say it’s sometimes hard to trust when you are in my profession. Like many professions, there is a lot of talking out of both sides of the mouth and many folks concerned have issues with loyalty.
Oh yes, I could go out on a limb and let you know the whole story and how unfair part of it seems to be. There are folks who want me to. Spill it all.
But in all honesty, I would also need to go on and tell you how many choices I’ve had in my life. I would have to go on and be honest with you about the many times I could have done something else or made another decision. I would have to be honest.
I’d have to tell you how I already knew about many of these drawbacks. I knew I’d never be rich and I knew there would be hardship.
I would have to be honest and tell you the many good things that I have received as a teacher. I would have to tell you about the many times I was supported by the same people who are on the other side of teacher negotiations. I would, in all honesty, report that I have respect for all the parties involved, teachers and non-teachers.
So what do you do when touchy subjects come along? Do you stomp and pound your fist? Do you ask others to put themselves out on a limb and risk repercussions?
I think we must always stand back and look at the situation before speaking. What is the best thing to do?
We should be allowed to speak up. We should be allowed to share our honest opinions without worrying about the backlash. We should be able to have our say.
We should be allowed to share things with the general public and educate others about the full story, with everyone being honest and presenting all of the information they have.
When we hear that someone is sharing information that is false or wrong, we should be able to politely disagree and correct this person. We should be able to ask this person to come and see for themselves what is going on.
And in the end, we should be able to smile and come to a peaceful agreement. An understanding.
An acceptable compromise.