THE SANTA CLARA
October 9, 2014
In his film “Annie Hall,” Woody Allen famously declares “Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym.”
Albeit, teaching gym is easier than teaching, say, calculus, but the notion of teachers as incompetent is utterly false.
Teachers shape youth and prepare them for their inevitable immersion into society. Their purpose is to create a functioning community of people who coexist and make decisions to further the country’s progress.
A report by Pearson Education in May 2014 ranked the United States’ education system as 14th in the world, right behind Russia. We must change the social status of teachers to enforce American strength both domestically and internationally.
The stigma against the profession, I believe, correlates to its desirability. Think about when someone says they want to be a teacher — most people grimace.
The next question for the aspiring teacher is something like, “Isn’t there something else you want to do?” or “Really, just teach? What about being a professor?”
What they fail to realize is while professors provide research and enlightenment for already gifted students, they do not directly address the needs of the greater American people: the ones who don’t choose college but enter the workforce instead.
How are they supposed to function without a solid education?
Certain aspects of the teaching profession could be acting as a major deterrent to potential candidates. The pay is horrific. The average salary for teachers with over 15 years of experience at primary, early-secondary and upper-secondary schools in the United States is a little over $47,000, according to Bloomberg News.
The Bloomberg report also ranks teachers’ annual salaries worldwide. The United States ranks 12th, while leading Luxembourg pays almost $98,000 per year.
With increasing student debt and cost of living rising in certain areas, why would someone even want to be an American teacher?
Woody Allen’s words reverberate as we realize how underpaid they are. But remember, a teacher’s salary seems to be saying something more than just placing those who cannot do into an undesirable profession.
It’s a social implication.
Regardless of how salaries determine our country’s view of teachers, they are central to a functioning society. They shape all members of the country in some form or another. To discount that — as we have — shows a lack of understanding. The pay of teachers reflects their supposed weight in society.
In other words, we value them so marginally that teachers with 15 years of experience earn less than the top 10 percent of garbage collectors in Santa Cruz (by about $3,000). Not to discount the importance of a garbage collector, but you don’t need a college degree or teaching credentials to pick up trash. More importantly, you are not preparing people to vote, pay taxes and enter the American workforce.
So to say that those who can’t do, teach, is to undermine the progress of the United States. To degrade teachers through salary further deters people from actually preparing able-bodied individuals to participate in our country. They pave the way for the future and ensure we do not have uneducated constituents or stagnate innovators.
Education is the key for improving our state, for understanding others and providing a more logical American society. A pivotal approach to do so is removing the stigma of teaching and actually respecting a necessary profession, both culturally and monetarily.
Eduardo Cuevas is a junior English major.