We’ve got a new word in our lexicon — “sequestration” — which literally means “seizure” or “confiscation.”

It is not my intent to get into the politics surrounding that word. I am concerned today only with the adverse “lost investment” opportunities — IF sequestration means that our country will lose more teachers. For further losses in that profession will have harmful effects on our children’s future.

I grew up in South Dakota many years ago. During those formative years, the culture I encountered valued certain professions above others: doctors and nurses, police, firefighters and teachers. Those were considered the noble professions — individuals who had chosen a career of service to others.

My respect for those chosen careers has not waned. Oh, I’ve been made aware of some of the abuses: redundant medical procedures, strikes and union overreaching. But, a society void of committed people to these professions would impoverish us all.

Nicholas D. Kristof, writing in the New York Times, offered an understanding that puts this issue into much better perspective. In a column entitled, “Pay Teachers More,” Kristof wrote,

“If we want to compete with other countries, and chip away at poverty across America, then we need to pay teachers more so as to attract better people into the profession. . . . In 1970, in New York City, a newly minted teacher at a public school earned about $2,000 less in salary than a starting lawyer at a prominent law firm. These days the lawyer takes home, including bonus, $115,000 more than the teacher . . . When governors mock teachers as lazy, avaricious incompetents, they demean the profession and make it harder to attract the best and brightest. We should be elevating teachers, not throwing darts at them.”

Modify the union work rules and require greater contribution to pension and health plans, if you choose — but, our politicians must stop dumping on these professions. Doctors and nurses, police, firefighters and teachers remain members of the noble professions. We need more of our best young people to choose these careers and we need to pay them higher wages in the process.

Attacking the nation’s debt problem is one thing — but, attacking our yawning investment gap is a far bigger problem. Our children depend on our answers to that challenge. Their opportunities are in the balance.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said it best:

“We have the chance here to provide an opportunity to every child in Massachusetts, a chance to show them that in the face of an uncertain future we were willing to act and to lead, to preserve for them what our parents and grandparents gave to us. . . . We invest in education because we believe that it is the single most important investment government can make in our collective future.”

More on Thursday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder
ITC Learning

www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com