Thursday, February 17, 2011

don't become a teacher

That's the lesson from this article in the South Bend Tribune today. Take a look at it. It's a marvelous case study in choosing facts to make your audience jump to conclusions.

I guess it's always important to remember that journalists call their pieces "stories," as in narratives that conform to literary structure and tropes.

What the "story" is just begging us to take away from it, of course, is that Carol Wallace is an overpaid buffoon who doesn't give a hoot about the well-being of her students. No need for nuance when we're talking about the Tea Party's welfare queens!

Am I seriously supposed to believe that a 35 year veteran of the South Bend School Corporation with no prior suspensions actually tried to make two of her students fight, and then up and pimp slapped one of them for apparently no reason? The story is patently ludicrous.

I'll tell you what really struck me about this article, though: it mentioned her salary. I've never seen that before in a "teacher gone bad" story, and it's never been my impression that newspapers routinely report the salaries of their subjects. It also happens to be completely irrelevant, not to mention a breach of Ms. Wallace's privacy!

Anything to get more clicks from the teabaggers, I guess.

Of course, her salary is notable, though not for the reasons Kim Kilbride apparently believes. Carol Wallace makes $61k/year. She has a master's degree, has been with the same employer for 35 years, and works long hours while still bringing lots of work home with her. Her work is not only physically taxing, as she probably stands most of the day between 8am and 3pm, but dangerous seeing as she works in one of South Bend's "troubled" high schools dealing, as we see here, with belligerent adolescents.

Is there any other job requiring that much education, demanding that much of the worker, and compensating so little? She has about as much schooling as an attorney, the workload of a business executive, and a job similar in danger and environment to a prison guard. And after 35 years she makes $61k. The only comparable job I can think of, interestingly, is that of a public defender, a profession similarly -- though not equally -- reviled.

No comments: