Favorite

Show them the money 

An op-ed columnist for the New York Times made the most fascinating point last week. He said that people are more likely to take a job if you offer them more money. Actually, the writer, Matt Miller, was recommending dramatic salary increases for public school teachers who work in poor areas, and he used some sophisticated data and policy knowledge to make his case. But in the end, his argument boiled down to a simple truth all of us can understand. Even some of the most idealistic and dedicated young teachers I know — each one unquestionably smart and talented — decided to leave Arkansas for a state that pays its teachers better. Embarrassingly, none of them had to go very far. Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alabama, and other states in our region are luring away our teachers with the world’s most reliable bait. Still, there is always passionate resistance to the idea of raising teacher salaries in Arkansas. They only work nine months of the year, some say. Arkansas has a lower cost of living, others are quick to mention. Both contentions are true, of course, but they are irrelevant in the context of our competition with other states. The best teachers are almost always going to go where they can make the most money. We can either try to bring them here by offering attractive salaries, or we can continue to lose them because we are too jealous to give them a comfortable lifestyle. But wouldn’t it be nice if teaching were a profession that inspired jealousy? A nice salary and summers off might convince our brightest minds to choose a career in teaching instead of business, law or medicine. Most surprising is that conservatives consistently reject this logic. One would think they would instinctively appreciate that the competition for skilled workers in any free-market industry is fierce, and the best talent follows the most generous compensation. We are often told that wealthy people and corporations won’t move to Arkansas — and that the ones already here might leave at any moment — because we have the audacity to impose an income tax. And our voters were encouraged to approve Amendment 2 last year, giving the state authority to grant over $200 million in bonds to build infrastructure for companies that put facilities here, because Arkansas would not be able to land the projects otherwise. “Without Amendment 2, these high-paying jobs will continue to pass us by,” Jim Pickens, the state’s former top economic development official, told the Jacksonville Leader. The article added, “He said the amendment gives Arkansas the same tools to compete that Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi already have.” In a similar way, higher teacher salaries would prevent the best teachers from passing us by. And if we can spend over $200 million to land an auto plant that will employ a few hundred people, why can’t we spend at least that much to attract the best people to teach our kids statewide? Does anyone underestimate the value of a great teacher? Especially in poor and undereducated areas, a teacher may be the only person able to instill in children the value and importance of learning. By challenging, enlightening and mentoring his or her students, a great teacher can literally change lives and, by extension, whole communities. From an economic development standpoint, a well-educated workforce would be our most powerful asset in the coming decades as the nation makes the transition from an industrial to an information-based economy. That means we should try to do whatever it takes to compete — the more dramatic, the better. It’s a simple equation: We need to get better teachers to improve our state’s education system, and we know that increasing their salaries would help us achieve that goal. If we can find the money for tax cuts and corporate subsidies, we can find the money for this far more important public interest. Unless, of course, you think things are just fine the way they are, and that the only people who make decisions on the basis of dollars and cents are rich people and CEOs.
Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Trump launches attack on 'SOBs' of the NFL

    Donald Trump led a rally for Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange Friday night and the resulting news coverage (if not in our local newspaper) is giving great attention for his rant against the NFL, including but not limited to players who have made political statements by taking a knee during the National Anthem.
    • Sep 23, 2017
  • Driver killed in crash with Maumelle officer

    Maumelle police report the death early this morning of a motorist who crashed head-on with a Maumelle police officer. The officer and two passengers in the other vehicle were injured.
    • Sep 23, 2017
  • Walmart lawyer picked for U.S. attorney in western Arkansas

    Donald Trump has nominated Duane "Dak" Kees,  director of global ethics and compliance at Walmart Stores, to be U.S. attorney for the western district of Arkansas. It has been filled on an interim basis by a career lawyer in the office.
    • Sep 22, 2017
  • More »

More by Warwick Sabin

  • Helena's disappearing buildings

    Preservationists hope to slow demolitions.
    • Mar 22, 2007
  • Trailers headed to Dumas

    Gov. Mike Beebe issued the following statement earlier today: Although this decision by FEMA to deny emergency funds to Desha County defies common sense, Arkansas will take care of its own people.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • Youth Ranch robbed, vandalized

    According to a press release we just received: The Donald W. Reynolds Campus of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranches (The Ranch) located near Fort Smith was vandalized overnight Thursday.  Items stolen during the break-in included all of the children’s saddles, food, tools and supplies from The Ranch’s carpentry shop and all equipment from its auto shop.  An investigation is underway with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • More »

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Latest in Warwick Sabin

  • Trickle-up theory

    Through thick and thin, there has always been one group of dedicated Americans whose support for President George W. Bush has been unwavering: The wealthy.
    • Mar 8, 2007
  • Time to go

    Tough questions face us in Iraq and it's time to confront them directly.
    • Mar 1, 2007
  • Plugged in

    One reason why the South remained solidly Democratic during the mid-20th century was the enduring gratitude to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who brought electricity to the poor, rural parts of the region. According to one historical account, “Althou
    • Feb 22, 2007
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sex on campus

    • Once again commentators blame the victim. Social scientists, of whom I am one, regularly find…

    • on September 22, 2017
  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • Shiny, nobody is saying that Hillary isn't entitled to speak. Shit, the more she talks,…

    • on September 21, 2017
  • Re: Bad health care bill, again

    • Its hard to tell what the GOP in Arkansas care about beyond making life worse…

    • on September 20, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation