I wish to reply to an opinion piece ("a shortage of teachers") penned by Norway-Vulcan Area Schools Superintendent Louis Steigerwald, specifically to his statement that "education today then appears to be a career with limited wages...as well as low social status."
I am an industry and research scientist, not really an educator, but have taught courses at two Michigan universities now and I agree with these sentiments.
We live in a paradoxical society that awards lavish praise and pay to professional athletes and actors-but gives little appreciation to teachers, the very people entrusted with our most precious resource, our children.
Substandard pay and low respect are disincentives for bright minds to consider teaching as a career, resulting in an inevitable brain drain away from education into more lucrative professions.
This not only hurts students, but the resulting educational deficit makes our country less competitive with respect to other industrialized nations that value education more than we do, and can be argued as a long-term threat to both our economy and national security.
But what concerns me more than these big national problems are the ones right here at home.
Last year, my wife applied for a science position at Norway-Vulcan Area Schools.
During her interview, she presented a folder of scientific equipment that she can bring to the classroom to augment science education, ranging from scintillometers to help students understand radioactivity, to microscopes as good as anything in our hospitals.
No local schools have this type of equipment; it's too expensive. But instead of prompting interest, I am told that the folder was dismissed and quickly tossed aside-a disappointing attitude from a school that boasts an outdoor banner declaring "highest rated high school in the U.P."
After her interview, my wife waited and waited to hear back from the school as to whether or not she was still being considered, or if another applicant had been chosen-but never heard anything.
And that's just rude. All unsuccessful applicants deserve the simple human courtesy of being informed in a timely fashion that another candidate has been selected, so that they can move on and make other plans. Practically everyone today has email or a cell phone. How long does it really take to send such a notification-a couple minutes? Is that asking too much?
It is unrealistic to hope for improved societal attitudes towards teaching when schools themselves treat teachers with disdain.
So please, show some respect.
Shawn M. Carlson