Americans like teachers.
We like to think of public school teachers as kindly, idealistic men and women nurturing rows of attentive, wide-eyed youths with the knowledge and values they will need to become informed, productive citizens. This image is doubtless reinforced by memories of our own favorite teachers — the ones who made that extra effort to help us understand a subject, an idea or a book that changed our lives for the better. We rightly remember such teachers with fondness and gratitude. Teaching is a noble and necessary profession, whose practitioners often forgo more lucrative careers out of a sincere desire to make a difference in their students’ lives.
Unfortunately, there is another, darker side to the teaching profession these days, a side seeded and sown by public-sector unions.
On Sept. 10, the 25,000-plus members of the powerful Chicago Teachers Union walked off their jobs, abandoning their 350,000 students in the process. Instead of teaching, they took to the streets to try to wring more money from the city, among other sundry demands. The union originally asked for a 30 percent salary increase for teachers who already make an average of more than $70,000 per year. As the editors of the Wall Street Journal noted, “That’s not a bad deal compared to the median household income of $47,000 for a Chicago worker in the private economy.”