Would you go through with it? And if you did, would you consider it a good marriage if your spouse actually did leave after two years? Would you consider it a successful venture as long as he or she was a pretty good partner for those two years?
I imagine not, because whatever other sterling qualities your short-lived help-meet might possess, commitment is not one of them. There's a lot to be said for dedication to a cause. That's why the traditional anniversary gift for the second year of marriage is cotton and the 25th silver.
That's also why programs like TFA are always failures. A two year commitment isn't a commitment at all. It's a jaunt, an experience, or perhaps a resume filler, but the TFAer can never be a real success as long as his or her career has a built in escape hatch.
My purpose today isn't to bash TFA (if you want that, do a search of this blog and you'll find plenty). Rather, I'd like to answer those people who wonder why a 22 year veteran teacher should make so much more than a rookie. Think of it like that marriage. No spouse is perfect, but you want someone who is dedicated--not one who plans to run off before the ink dries on the marriage certificate. A great spouse is one who sticks it out, learns from mistakes, and plans to be there through thick and thin. A great spouse is dedicated to making things work, not just in year 1 but in year 41 as well, knowing that in the long haul dedication and commitment will pay off. The irony is that dedicating your life to someone means you have to work harder each and every day to make it work--a lot harder sometimes than the person who feels free to leave the marriage whenever they want.
Dedication is also a key factor in teacher quality. A teacher who is willing to dedicate his or her life to teaching is always, in the long run, a better teacher than the fly-by-night TFA type. When teaching is in your blood, when it is part of your identity, when it is how you plan to spend the majority of your adult life, then you are willing to do the work, make the mistakes, and reap the rewards that are due you. You will work longer, harder, and better than the person who sees teaching as a pit stop on the way to their 'true' career.
Even the most dedicated spouse needs incentives to keep going. Children, financial stability, and long term life plans are frequent motivators. For teachers, financial rewards, along with security and respect, were long time motivators. Now that job security has been eroded by our own union, and the respect that once belonged to teachers has been bought and spit on by billionaires like Bloomberg, Murdoch, Gates and Broad, financial rewards are the only ones left in tact.
The deform billionaires are going after that last remaining incentive. They want all the benefits of dedicated teachers without actually having to pay for them. They'd like to offer us all beginning wages and have us fight for whatever merit pay scraps they throw our way.
I don't know about you, but I don't want my child taught by someone with just two years worth of dedication. I want teachers who see the profession as a calling and as a privilege, and who want to hone their craft over time so that they can reap all the benefits that teaching has traditionally conferred on those willing to stick it out.
Mayor Bloomberg would like the right to give all of us a quickie divorce. Let's not give him that chance.