Mr. Bedwell was my 9th grade Humanities teacher. He team-taught a class called "Man and Society." I was forced to read Animal Farm and 1984. My life has not been the same since. Mr. Bedwell was an outstanding teacher who managed to make 15-year-olds think. These days, teachers are lucky if they can get their freshmen and sophomores to sit down and shut up for more than thirty-seconds. I am saddened by the news of Mr. Bedwell's passing. I trust his family is aware that his life could not possibly have been more productive and meaningful to every snot-nosed kid who sat down and shut up in his classes long enough to learn how to think critically about anything read in a book, seen on television or a movie, etc.
This is a particularly significant time for me to think about teachers and the role they play in this society as Greedheads around the country attempt to take away the pittance teachers earn. Just for the record, when I taught high school in Los Angeles, my starting salary was $38,500 a year. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, rent for a tiny, TINY studio apartment in L.A. (at that time-- I hate to think what it is now) was about 1200 a month. So, chop off 14,000 right away. Take another 33% for taxes and you're left with 11,000 for an entire year of gas, food, utilities and that all important car insurance for that all important car (it's L.A., remember?) What are you left with? Usually, debt. For those of you who may think teachers are overpaid fatcats living off of your precious dimes, take heart. They don't make enough to save anything at all and, as stated, are usually left in debt by the end of the year paying for basic needs.
No, you filthy Greedheads, teachers are in no way overpaid. They are, in fact, radically underpaid. If you have never attempted to corral a classroom of hormonal teenagers long enough to lay some knowledge on them, you have no idea what this job entails. Additionally, the teacher's job does not end when the sixth period bell rings. Teachers work more extra hours than anyone else and they don't get paid for it. So, let me assure you, starting salary for a public school teacher should be no less than six figures. I think 150,000 is fair and the ceiling should be 500,000. That's fair, folks.
Unless, of course, the Greedheads want a stupid population. Hmm...