If teaching is such a sweet deal, why isn’t everyone doing it?

There’s a certain childlike innocence that goes along with the popular modern sport of teacher bashing. I say this because most people get over the idea that teachers are ultra-powerful beings who live unattainable lives of luxury at around the age of 7, when they realize that rumpled, coffee-stained JC Penney office apparel is not haute couture. Many critics of teachers, however, manage to hang on to this silly notion way past the time when their skulls have fully hardened.

Call me a fuzzy-headed liberal, but I just don’t see the point in bashing people who help train our future workforce.

Of course, the tired old canard that teachers are remorseless, mustache-twisting budget-drainers has been resurrected in the past few months – first when the governor’s budget repair bill touched off mass protests among public employees, and most recently when the Wisconsin Supreme Court removed the final barrier to the bill’s enactment.

Some have reacted to teachers’ and other public employees’ reluctance to lie down and simply accept significant cuts in compensation and the stripping of their collective bargaining rights with everything from derision to rancor.

For example, some local wags took to calling Walkerville – the protest village near the Capitol that was inhabited by disgruntled public employees and their supporters – “Entitledtown.”

And Rush Limbaugh summed up many critics’ thoughts on the matter when he tossed this fragrant load of chum to his eager audience: “The whole educational system has been co-opted by people who have found an easy way to a good living, and they realize it and they don’t want to give it up without a fight.”

Meanwhile, Scott Walker is being lauded as a hero and some sort of master financial alchemist for balancing the budget on the backs of public employees. Yes, yes, he’s a brilliant man. Had he been governor from birth, our utopia would have long ago arrived. Our state would have progressed so rapidly, we’d have had ‘70s leisure suits in the ‘60s.

But previous governors have managed to balance the budget without resorting to these sorts of mean-spirited tactics and without scapegoating anyone. Was this really the only option? And did he have to take away employees’ future collective bargaining rights in order to balance the current budget?

So what, exactly, lies behind the animus toward teachers? Someday, I’d like that explained to me.

But for the moment, I’ll settle for the answer to this question: If teaching is such a sweet deal, oh wise young teacher-basher, why aren’t you taking advantage of it? What are you, an idiot?

To hear many (but, to be fair, by no means all) conservatives tell it, teaching is a non-stop gravy train that’s readily available to every manner of layabout, malingerer, and ne’er-do-well. It’s easy money, and a ticket to a lavish lifestyle, complete with a three-month summer vacation.

But if capitalism teaches us anything, it’s that imbalances in any market are quickly corrected by the law of supply and demand. If you sell gold Krugerrands for 10 cents apiece, your inventory will be wiped out in no time.

So if teaching were really such a lucrative profession – and so easy – wouldn’t people be beating down the doors of school districts in order to get in on the action? And wouldn’t the current crop of shifty-eyed losers – who have to scream to the rafters of the Capitol in order to trick folks into allowing them to stay part of the middle class – eventually be replaced by much more qualified workers? And wouldn’t teachers hang onto their privileged positions with white-knuckle determination?

Apparently not.

While the economy has no doubt lowered the demand for most professionals, teacher retention has traditionally been a problem across the country. Of course, the reasons are not hard to guess.

And now, with their prospects sure to become bleaker in light of the current political climate, teachers are retiring in droves.

So how about it, teacher-bashers? Step up to the plate. The world can be your oyster. Your gilded subcompact chariot awaits.

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