I was just reading about the education problems in this country, and at the same time about our recent obsession with prize-based game shows like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

So I thought the networks could kill two birds with one stone, and perform a public service on top of that, by producing "Who wants to be a high school graduate?" High school kids from disadvantaged backgrounds or failing educational systems would compete on national television for money toward a full college scholarship, the nation's youth watches, and everybody learns. Think about it: "put the following conflicts in the order in which they were fought":

Desperate times call for desperate measures.


Of course, when I come back to read this again and reflect on it (being several days later now), it seems kind of lame because it is only addressing half of the problem: we don't just need students interested in learning, we need capable people who want to teach. We need them to be intellectually motivated, and yes, financially motivated. We need to elevate the profession, put it up on a platter and worship the people who are doing it.

In prime time.

Or at least give them a lot of respect, a good deal of national attention...and a shitload of money (which comes in the form of a subsidy to their salary as long as they teach). No, it doesn't even have to be a shitload, just the difference between the sad amount that teachers are paid in public schools and some sort of median wage that the kind of intelligent, capable people that we would like teaching our kids actually earn. Plus a little bonus thrown in there for incentive. Not only would this turn a few more people into teachers who otherwise would not be, but it would act as a touchstone for the national debate on teacher compensation. How many people do you know that would teach if they knew they could pay their bills?

So in the interest of symmetry, and because it's probably a better idea, how about: "Who wants to teach a bunch of high school kids?"

I wrote a paper about teacher salaries for my Freshman English class in college. My professor told me that teachers were getting fine salaries, and that teacher salaries shouldn't be my concern, but then, he was a single bachelor living on frozen pizza and beer.

Of course teacher salaries are my concern! It should be everyone's concern!

The less we pay these professionals, the more they move to jobs they can afford to live on. This means that the quality of teacher goes down. Don't get me wrong, there are many who are willing to sacrifice the money for the love of the children, but that becomes less as the cost of living increases. Students are not receiving the education they need to succeed further in life; instead they are struggling with the overwhelming and ever increasing student to teacher ratios. Struggling students can no longer ask questions and get help unless they go outside of normal class hours, which for many isn't always possible. Teachers don't get half the credit they deserve. Teacher awards are given out yearly, and I bet not even fifty people know who received it. Meanwhile, stars that aren't known by more than fifty people personally get a nomination, and are remembered for decades. Teachers do a bit more for our children's minds than TV stars, and it's about time that that recognition was given where it was due.

If we want to thrive and prosper as a country, we can't wait for our children to go to college to begin educating them. They need to start learning the difference between verb and noun before 12th grade. If we wait for college, many of them will lose interest in learning, or have little desire to struggle through the process of catching up to their peers.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but where I went to school, I didn't learn this difference. I had to switch districts before I learned it, and by then I was so far behind my peers that I struggled for years.

By increasing teacher's salaries, we encourage people to go into the profession, and increase the ability to keep good teachers around. We also increase the ability to weed out the bad teachers. Overall this will allow a better environment for young minds, and better lifestyles for educators.

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