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Alabama Senator: God Wants Teachers to be Underpaid

Alabama Senator: God Wants Teachers to be Underpaid

In case you managed to miss this one: Alabama state senator Shadrack McGill has spent the last two weeks trying to explain his way out of a controversial statement about public school teachers’ salaries made at a prayer breakfast. I’m just going to present the entire quote here, because it really is mind-blowing:

“Teachers need to make the money that they need to make. There needs to be a balance there. If you double what you’re paying education, you know what’s going to happen? I’ve heard the comment many times, ‘Well, the quality of education’s going to go up.’ That’s never proven to happen, guys.

“It’s a Biblical principle. If you double a teacher’s pay scale, you’ll attract people who aren’t called to teach.

“To go in and raise someone’s child for eight hours a day, or many people’s children for eight hours a day, requires a calling. It better be a calling in your life. I know I wouldn’t want to do it, OK?

“And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It’s just in them to do. It’s the ability that God give ‘em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn’t matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity.

“If you don’t keep that in balance, you’re going to attract people who are not called, who don’t need to be teaching our children. So, everything has a balance.”

Just a sidenote: this was coupled with a tasteful joke, where he refused to answer a question about retirement funds because “we’re going to get raptured out of here before it comes that time for you anyway.” It’s good to know he takes his legislative responsibilities seriously. (McGill has since apologized for the remark.)

There’s so much about this whole idea of “balance” and “calling” that’s ludicrous on its face. Even if they were making slightly more money – even if teachers were making twice as much money – are there really that many people who could gracefully deal with being trapped in a room full of kids all day? And more to the point – can we afford not to raise wages for teachers?

Beginning teacher salaries average about $33,000 nationwide – after 20+ years of service and maybe a master’s degree or two, teachers might work their way up to $56,000, depending on the state they live in. With student loans to pay off, families to raise, and bills and housing costs to pay, that doesn’t go far. Add that to the stress of a job that requires teachers to bring work home with them, and spend their summers and “holidays” writing lesson plans, and you have an environment that’s pushing many teachers, both new and experienced, into changing careers.

McGill has one thing right: it’s only those who are truly dedicated to teaching who are willing to go into education despite the low pay and long hours. But what about all those other passionate people who love working with kids who decide they just can’t live on a teacher’s salary?

McGill has since gone on the record to clarify his remarks – turns out he doesn’t want teachers to live in poverty. He supports modest raises for teachers to meet cost-of-living increases. Which is better than nothing, but still doesn’t change the fact that he believes God wants teachers to prove they’re worthy of working in Alabama’s public schools, in the name of “balance.”

By the way, he supports a 2007 decision to raise local lawmaker’s salaries from $30,710 to $49,5000. To make them less susceptible to bribes, you see. I think supporters of public education everywhere should get in touch with McGill, and start asking him if that’s in line with Biblical principles – how do we know our lawmakers are really called to the position, if they’re not willing to settle for 30 grand a year?

 

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Photo credit: BurningQuestion

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152 comments

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8:22PM PDT on Sep 25, 2013

Great model for the nation.

Our CEOs who would be the most dedicated and who truly would be following a calling to manage very complex firms important to our economy and millions of jobs rather than merely doing it for the money should get paid about $24.53/hr.

5:33PM PDT on Jun 9, 2012

ridiculous concepts. yes, teachers have to really love what they do to do what they do efficiently... but that does NOT mean we should hold back money from them! if they do well, and are efficient and consistent, they should def get a "raise"

2:45AM PDT on Mar 20, 2012

My niece became a teacher 2 years ago and she is great at it. She knew she wasn't going to make a ton of money. She just truly loves the kids!!

11:55PM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Agree with the previous comment and others like it.

10:34AM PST on Feb 28, 2012

Ridiculous!

12:45PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

I should point out that preaching is also a calling and so perhaps the multi-millions made in mega churches should be looked into for Biblical soundness.

6:16PM PST on Feb 22, 2012

Isn't this the same state that is closeing several state run hospitals for the mentally ill? Seriously, have their water and air pollution levels been monitered for mind destroying chemicals?

12:45PM PST on Feb 21, 2012

I consider teaching to be a calling also, but I wonder what Bible this idiot is reading! As a Christian, I have read it cover to cover about 100 times, and would love to challenge him to a debate about it's content.

9:09AM PST on Feb 20, 2012

I was talking the God the other day and God stated politicians should never receive any kind of pay-it is a "calling" to serve the people and that is all the reward they need. If they demand payment, then they must have ulterior motives seeking power they don't deserve to have. Just sayin.....

8:38AM PST on Feb 20, 2012

I know of the area he represents.

This is just one more reason why inter-marriage within families and then having children is a bad idea.

(No, not all of them; just 65%, but that's still a majority)

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Julie M. Rodriguez Julie M. Rodriguez is an arts, green living, and political writer based in San Mateo, CA. Her work... more
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