Commentary on TeachingCenter

A couple of days ago I was on some random website and this headline jumped out at me:

Key & Peele Sketch Imagines A World Where Teachers Are Paid Like Athletes And It's Awesome

Naturally, as a teacher, I just had to click on the page. What I watched was very entertaining, but also very thought-provoking. Watch it below:

Fabulous, right? From the huge amount of money guaranteed to a talented teacher to the drafting of a "mathlete" who was living on his father's modest paycheck from playing professional football to the "play of the year" getting the introvert involved in the discussion, all of these are things for which teachers would love to be praised.

So why does it take a popular sketch show mimicking a sports show to get people talking? Why aren't teachers paid like athletes? The second question is easy to answer:

1. Public schools are owned by the government, and you know there's not a lot of money there. Church schools (like mine) are paid through offerings of the congregation and tuition of the families - not much there, either. Meanwhile, sports teams are owned by rich guys who know they can get a lot of money back and make a name for themselves.

2. Teaching is not a spectator event. Sporting events are. The more eyes you get watching a game on TV, on the Internet, or in the stadiums means more revenue. Schools have to resort to bake sales and fundraisers to get more money for music or PE equipment.

It can be said that not everyone requires sports to survive, but everyone needs some sort of education. While we wish that we teachers could be compensated a little more for that, we also know we didn't get into this profession for the money. For some athletes, money is the only thing that matters.

There are tough times when it comes to being a teacher, but the happy times are often so wonderful that it makes the tough ones easier to handle. I was at a presentation on Monday evening, and one of the families from our school was there. I taught their son and daughter last year, and both of them came right up to me to say hello, and the daughter sat herself right next to me for the presentation. Better yet, their little brother - who will be a kindergartner next year and has never talked to me that much - came up to me and gave me a hug!

Those happy moments can occur in the classroom, too, like when you finish switching classes with another teacher, come back to the room, and everything you asked them to do is done.

At the end of a good day, a teacher won't think "I made a lot of money today!" They'll think "My students really did a great job today!" Money can't buy that kind of happiness.

So it's fun to see these spoofs and wish that teachers would get the same appreciation and recognition as the professional athletes of our day, and hope that one day we get the same kind of rights as teachers in Scandinavia. But we know that if our students look at us in the future and remember us more fondly than their childhood athlete "heroes," that kind of appreciation keeps us going year in and year out.

But thanks, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, for keeping the conversation going.


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