You owe me. Big time. This year, in the midst of our nation-wide budget crisis, you presented one solution to local school districts who are scrambling to balance their budgets: a retirement incentive for teachers. The hope was that with enough retirements and expen$ive teachers gone, layoffs could be avoided. An additional benefit was that these older, burned-out, wizened teachers would be replaced by more affordable, younger, enthusiastic teachers. How could a district lose?
I'll tell you how they lose.
They lose a career's worth of experience. They lose 30 years of having learned what works well in a classroom. They lose years of having learned to read each student and the knowledge of how to respond to that student. They lose understanding of how to go around red-tape to find help for a student. They lose the courage experience gives in how to communicate confidently with an administrator, angry or frightened parent, defiant student, and more.
There will always be teachers who need to go - teachers whose attitudes and abilities are better-served elsewhere. But the teachers who are retiring this year? Well, some of them are dearly loved by our family.
We'll miss the way she helped our child gain confidence and discover talent.
We'll miss the way she taught our child that the best effort is the only effort worth giving in any task.
We'll miss her even-temperament and how our child's face lit up when he saw her in the audience of his musical.
We'll miss the way she got to know our child who didn't think he wanted anyone to know him, and the dream he had of one day marrying her.
So, Michigan, you owe me. Let's do the math: approximately $75,000 per year times the 27 cumulative years my children have left in school, less the $35,000 per year the newer teachers might earn. That leaves $1,080,000 of career experience your incentive owes my family.
We'll gladly take our incentive in the form of a check or cash.