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What Are Teachers Worth?

What are teachers really worth?

That's the question, as the Senate puts off a vote on $10 billion for state and local governments to prevent teacher layoffs. Senate leadership wanted the bill to be deficit neutral—a line never applied to war funding, where no spending's too great because we're killing for peace. Estimates are that it costs $1 million per soldier per year to keep troops in Afghanistan. But enough of that.

Last week, David Leonhardt at the New York Times cited a study that showed that teachers can make a huge difference in the lives of children as early as kindergarten. The study found that a “standout” kindergarten teacher is probably worth $320,000 a year—that's the value that good teachers can add to the life of their students.  When researchers left standardized testing out of the equation, they found many more benefits added by teachers.

Of course, this study plays into the idea that every individual teacher's responsible for the performance of the kids they teach, regardless of socioeconomic status, home life, class-size.  Listen to Diane Ravitch on this program for more on that.

But it also brought to the front page of the Times the idea that our teachers, far from being laid off because of Senate politics, should be paid better and given more support.

If we can't find $320,000 a year for kindergarten teachers, perhaps we can at least find a way to keep them from losing their jobs entirely. Scratch that. If we can't find a way to pay living wages for kindergarten teachers, who are we ? And just where in our picture of "national security" do we place our kids?

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders is a best-selling author and broadcaster who hosts the The Laura Flanders Show, where she interviews forward thinking people about the key questions of our time.  The LF Show airs weekly on KCET/LinkTV, FreeSpeech TV, and in English & Spanish in teleSUR. Flanders is also a contributing writer to The Nation and Yes! Magazine (“Commonomics”) and a regular guest on MSNBC. She is the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species (Verso, 2004) and Blue GRIT: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians (Penguin Press, 2007). The Laura Flanders Show first aired on Air America Radio 2004-2008. You can find all her archives and more at Lauraflanders.com or via Twitter @GRITlaura

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