I had an interesting conversation with an Oklahoma school board member the other night. The member was extremely upset that the board had been berated by the local union’s president for being “asleep at the wheel.”
At one point, the board member exclaimed, “Do you know how much money I receive for the work I do for this board? Zero!”
It took me aback. After a second, I asked him, “Do you know how much money I receive for being a professional educator? $34,000.”
His response was so insulting, I couldn’t believe my ears:
“Yes, but that was your choice. You knew that teachers don’t make a lot of money.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond at the time. What I would like to have said is that I did not make the choice to be paid a lower wage than other professionals; but rather, people like him, people who are powerful and wealthy, people who make 6 figures at their day job and are not taxed at the same rate as the majority of other Oklahomans, they’re the ones who made the choice to defund education.
I did tell him that it isn’t the case that teachers make less than other professionals in countries like South Korea.
He responded, “if you’re going to leave the country, you should go to Finland, the teachers there work in a wonderful system!”
I grinned like a Cheshire cat and said, “Yes, and they are very, very unionized.”