This opinion piece was written and submitted by Max Mickelson of Rock Springs.
Pulling out educator salaries, whether administrative, teaching, pre-or post-secondary is
suddenly trendy. Apparently, we shouldn’t value the time and money those folks have put into
developing their knowledge and skills or, at least, not too much. Never mind a Wyoming
resident will spend $81,032 to receive the degree required to teach in our K – 12 system. Your
reward is an average teaching salary of $59,775.
Are you surprised to learn 41.3% of new teachers leave the profession within their first five
years, 28.4% in the first three?
If you believe an educated populace is necessary for a republic to function, then things look ugly.
If you’re like me and still wondering what happened to all the teachers, you might look to the
relentless attacks and attempts to dismantle education in America. Maybe if every time you turn
around you were told $100,090 is a ridiculous wage for an attorney, $60,070 for an electrician,
$56,210 for a plumber, $78,803 for a miner, or $90,570 for a civil engineer and that your
profession has failed or is actively bad, you might look elsewhere. Maybe if you grow up in an
environment where teaching is derided, regulated, and picked apart, you wouldn’t see it as a
career opportunity either.
Education matters. As a state we had decades of not paying our share with industry paying our
bills. If we had contributed all along, our state budget and savings would be the envy of our
nation. We made the decision not to and now we must decide to support the services we depend
on, including education, or to continue with the fantasy that we don’t receive bang for our buck.
This decision fortunately and unfortunately rests with you and I. We can blame school board
members. We can blame county commissioners or city council members. We can blame
legislators. We can wring our hands and say it’s a shame but it’s not my fault. If we do, our
children will not be prepared to compete intellectually and economically. We will own that
regardless of who we blame. The time to stand and support the services we depend on including
education is now.