When I first came across the term “supply-side economics,” I immediately assumed it referred to teachers: supply excellent teachers to every student – yes every – and the enormous potential of the students thus released to the world will cause the economy to prosper, and make America great. Build from the ground up. Create a firm foundation. Etcetera.
Silly, biased me to think, as a former teacher, before I read on, that supply side economics was a proposition to do whatever it takes to make teaching be respected as the fundamental calling – on which success in every other endeavor depends.
Why do we assume, for instance, that teachers should make less money than, say, lawyers, doctors, engineers, when we know that you can’t be a lawyer, doctor, engineer without having gone to school? Isn’t it wrong that it is not as challenging to get certified to teach in public schools as it is to pass the bar exam or become a doctor? Many people believe that teacher unions make it difficult if not impossible to remove mediocre and inept teachers from the profession. I believe that in many cases they are right, but I also believe that if teachers were accorded the degree of professional autonomy and respect that other professions enjoy, they wouldn’t need unions to get what they need. The public would do their advocacy for them.
During the recession, a friend asked me why I thought teachers should be given a raise that year when people in other lines of work were not. “My administrative assistant isn’t getting a raise,” he said, “so shouldn’t teachers be held back too?” I wanted to say, “An administrative assistant isn’t a teacher,” but I held my tongue. Having been a teacher, I could not claim an elite position. That has to come from the society
Does anyone really believe that in a nation all of whose citizens have been educated by excellent teachers, a candidate for the presidency could get away with proposing we build a wall on our southern border and send the bill to Mexico, while his rival is unpunished by his base for advocating that we require proof from refugees seeking asylum here that they are Christian?
I, for one, do not.