A pitch for teachers

Dick George

April 28, 1992|By Dick George

IT HAPPENS every spring.

As sure as robins eat worms, somebody bemoans the fact that baseball players make a lot more money than teachers. This is a pitch that's so fat that conservatives fall all over each other getting to the plate to knock it out of the park.

They ask: When did 50,000 people ever pay good money to watch a bunch of teachers teach? Why, those players have valuable talent. That talent, one commentator said recently, actually makes teachers possible. See, the players draw fans, creating a taxable profit for team owners, and jobs for groundskeepers, hot dog vendors, etc., and all those people pay taxes on the money they earn, and it's all those taxes that pay the teachers. So teachers ought to be darn glad those baseball players make so much. Grateful, even.

Well, I think it's time to put the tag on this whole teacher-athlete salary thing.

First, I don't think teachers begrudge athletes their big money. That's not the point at all.

What's galling is this odd double standard. While ballplayers are revered and seen as generators of economic growth, teachers are attacked and seen as economic drains.

Baseball leads to profits . . . jobs . . . prosperity. What does teaching lead to? Read the headlines. In budget hearings across America, and especially in Maryland, you'll see that teaching leads to deficits . . . controversy . . . pestilence . . . locusts. Paying those darn whining teachers is bankrupting us.

Maybe we can stop swinging our bats at teachers' heads long enough to notice that people who are educated by teachers are in a better position to get jobs. Jobs that pay money. Income. Taxes. Yes, teachers are also little beehives of positive economic activity. And where there are no teachers, or where they are woefully unsupported, you get negative economic activity. Unemployment, welfare, incarceration. An entire nation losing ground to foreign competitors. Baseball players who cannot read.

So let's stop all this foolishness about how grateful teachers should be to baseball players -- and everyone else -- because our taxes pay their salaries. Maybe we're the ones who are lucky to have them.

Dick George is a television writer and producer. He writes from Baldwin.

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