• 'Biblical Principles' In Education

    "It's a Biblical principle. If you double a teacher's pay scale, you'll attract people who aren't called to teach.

    "To go in and raise someone's child for eight hours a day, or many people's children for eight hours a day, requires a calling. It better be a calling in your life. I know I wouldn't want to do it, OK?

    "And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It's just in them to do. It's the ability that God give 'em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn't matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity.

    "If you don't keep that in balance, you're going to attract people who are not called, who don't need to be teaching our children. So, everything has a balance."

    The above comes from Alabama state Senator Shadrack McGill (R). It's not every day you're confronted with a statement that is so irretrievably stupid that it takes the rest of the day just to wrap your mind around the sheer stupidity of it all.

    For starters, I have yet to run into a passage in the Holy Bible that holds keeping teacher salaries at well below the national average as a "biblical principle." That's just something you won't see in the Old or New Testaments any time soon. McGill must have one of those custom-made Holy Bibles filled with "scripture" specially designed to justify the entire conservative philosophy.

    Second, those who have a calling for teaching might initially go in without regard to how much they're being paid, but eventually their thoughts will turn towards keeping the lights on and the fridge stocked up. As this whole "calling" thing, sounds like McGill is mixing up teaching with preaching. The classroom is not a pulpit, the students are not church folk and there's no deacon walking around the room with a collection plate in hand.

    Last but not least, sounding off a desire to keep teacher salaries as low as possible should be a red flag to just about anyone who is teaching or thinking of teaching in the state of Alabama. One of the things that brings the cream of the crop to the surface is a decent salary. Although the state has one of the highest starting salaries in the nation, the average salary is well below the national median. Depressing those salaries won't bring in the best and brightest, because the best and brightest want to be paid a decent salary that is commensurate to what they're worth and if they have to go outside the state to be paid well, then that's exactly what will happen. The idea that great teachers have to sacrifice their salaries and livelihoods just to do the job they love is quite nonsensical and patently stupid.

    Meanwhile, McGill believes that such sacrifices should not extend to the legislature:
    McGill, R-Woodville, said a 62 percent pay raise in 2007 - passed first by a controversial voice vote and later in an override of a veto by then-Gov. Bob Riley - better rewards lawmakers and makes them less susceptible to being swayed by lobbyists.
    Lawmakers entered the 2007 legislative session making $30,710 a year, a rate that had not been changed in 16 years. The raise increased it to $49,500 annually.

    McGill said that by paying legislators more, they're less susceptible to taking bribes.

    I doubt that. No politician who's getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and perks is going to suddenly give that up over a nearly $20k annual pay raise. That's just extra change dug out from underneath the couch for those guys, on top of the kickbacks and gifts they'll continue to receive. It's interesting how McGill is willing to give legislators such as himself a larger paycheck, yet he's adamant about keeping teacher salaries as low as possible.

    I suppose the end game of all this is to keep teacher salaries depressed to the point at which no one in their right mind would want to take up the job (at least in that state) for a living. This will be one of the many sources of justification for pushing ahead with the idea of charter schools as a replacement for the "failed" public education system, a system that is currently being driven into failure thanks to a number of factors, with underfunding being one of them. If you take a close look at most school systems in Alabama, you'll notice how inflated the salaries of the administration are in comparison to the faculty and staff within the schools themselves. That might not bother someone who approaches the issue of public education with a business mindset - after all, the CEO and other execs have to be "well-compensated" in order to perform a good job.

    Looking at education from a business perspective also demands that the guys on the ground floor - the teachers and support staff - be paid as little as possible to preserve the bottom line. That's something that Casey Wardynski is introducing to Huntsville City Schools with "Teach For America." Instead of having qualified teachers with hundreds of hours in traditional training and years of experience in connecting with and motivating students, HCS students will be taught by fresh-faced college graduates who have relatively little experience. While the strong push for "Teach For America" is just Wardynski's way of making sure the Broad Foundation gets a return on their investment, a cunning politician can seize on TFA as being a backdoor for dumping qualified and experienced teachers in favor of what will eventually amount to as "temp workers." There is a certain allure towards paying teachers fry-cook wages, on the mistaken believe that they don't do much of anything aside from sit on their asses and babysit kids all day.

    Perhaps McGill should borrow a proper copy of the Holy Bible and spend the next few days going over it from cover to cover, preferably with a good minister who'll guide him through the text. That should help him separate genuine biblical principles from the principles he's conjured up in his head.