Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Fuck the Schools: Ever since I can remember people have complained that we don't pay teachers enough. When I was young I thought this didn't make any sense because teachers only worked two-thirds of the year. In my teenage years I decided this complaint was crap because teachers more or less sucked. I was punk rock enough to see that the schools were a scam meant to destroy the lives and minds of uppity-Americans and replace them with complacent consumers.

I guess I am still punk-rock enough because I still feel that way and I had to choke down the venom when I read Dave Eggers Reading, Writing, and Landscaping on the sadness of teachers in Mother Jones. It made me want to go throw a brick through the window of one of the lead-paint and asbestos ridden penitentiaries that pass for schools in New York City. Or go encourage some kid to stop doing homework, stop going to classes and stop listening to the counselors. Becoming a moral drop-out did me nothing but good, and if you're a high-school student and reading this email me and I'll explain how to initiate a one-man revolution. The first step: drop out of school now.

Oddly enough, Eggers agrees with me about teachers, even if he uses mealy mouthed phrase "the quality of education is diminished." Eggers solution to someone doing a bad job is to pay them more to do it. Or, as he puts it, we should pay teachers "in line with their importance to their communities."

It would be interesting to see how Eggers would administrate this departure from the system of supply and demand that sets the wages of everyone else. Or does he intend to make becoming a teacher as difficult and as costly as becoming a lawyer or doctor? Alternatively, we could make the teaching profession a lot less easy, so that fewer individuals would be willing to take on the burden of entering it.

Look, Dave, the only way to raise the wages of teachers to that of attorneys and doctors is to make teaching an exclusive profession, to lower the supply of available teachers. Of course this would mean that teachers would become less affordable, and poorer communities would not be able to afford as many of them. So maybe we're best left not trying to introduce price-fixing into the teaching profession at all.