There’s a small budget surplus in the state of Minnesota and already the folks over at Education Minnesota are plotting how to spend it. Given that Education Minnesota represents the state’s teachers, their rather obvious and predictable answer is to send more money the way of educators.
“From kindergarten to campus, Minnesota’s educators are being burned out covering for open jobs that can’t be filled at current compensation levels and working conditions,” Education Minnesota President Denise Specht said in a press release. “We’re asking lawmakers to dedicate money toward making these jobs more attractive, with higher pay, reduced workloads, more affordable health insurance and significant pension reform.”
Nice thoughts, to be sure, but also ones which raise some interesting questions. For example, why are educators burned out? Could it be because the education system has tied their hands, forcing them to yield to politically correct diversity, equity, and inclusion policies which hinder them from disciplining students or choosing the curriculum they think will serve their students best? Why isn’t Education Minnesota doing anything to free teachers from such a situation?
Furthermore, why are teachers paid such low salaries? Judging from numbers on Indeed.com, the average base salary for a Minnesota teacher is $32,500. The high end of that salary scale is roughly $65,000. Yet as we’ve seen from places around the state, many districts are spending roughly $20,000 per student, and since the average class size in Minnesota schools comes in at around 21 students, each classroom has about a budget of $420,000. Any sensible teacher would naturally wonder where the other $355,000 is going. Why doesn’t Education Minnesota advocate for giving those hard-working teachers more of that classroom money pot instead of asking the state to fork out more money for teacher salaries?
Here’s an idea: Instead of directing that extra budget surplus money solely toward teachers as Education Minnesota is suggesting, why not direct it toward both teachers and students by using the surplus for Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)? Both parents and teachers support ESAs, which is really not surprising because they hold the promise of innovation and opportunity for both students and those who teach them.
Education Minnesota has advanced the same ideas for years … and education in this state only seems to grow worse. Maybe it’s time for them to start thinking outside the box if they really want what’s best for their teachers.
Image Credit: Flickr-MN Senate DFL, Public Domain