Monday, May 09, 2016
Graves: Teachers are tremendously underappreciated
Last Wednesday, we celebrated national Teacher Appreciation Day.
Almost everyone has had a teacher leave a lasting impact on their life. And yet teachers are tremendously underappreciated in this country. That's a disgrace.
If teacher pay had risen in proportion to per-pupil spending since 1970, the average teacher would make more than $120,000 today. And studies have shown that an exceptional, high-performing teacher can impart a year and a half's worth of learning to a student in just one year.
There is no magic fix to our nation’s education system, to finding a way to give every single kid in America the opportunity to become happy, productive and self-sufficient adults. But the best place to start is by reducing red tape and getting the federal government out of our schools.
The problem is that our education dollars are not going where they'd be most useful. This bureaucracy is what keeps teacher pay stagnant while education spending skyrockets.
It also helps force nearly half of all public school teachers out of the profession within five years.
I recently introduced a resolution honoring Teacher Appreciation Week in the Capitol, but we have to do much more from Washington to support our schools.
Late last year, the House passed a law to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act, which gives more control back to local governments.
In fact, the Wall Street Journal called it the “largest devolution of federal control” in 25 years. The law replaces No Child Left Behind, gives authority back to local school districts, and prevents the White House from forcing states to adopt Common Core standards. I’d say the Wall Street Journal was on to something.
This law will return decision-making to administrators, school districts and local governments, while limiting the influence of bureaucrats in Washington. It represents a shift back to the way things should be run, but there's still a long way to go. The national attitude on teachers and the importance of education has to change before we can really fix the problem. And it has to happen soon.