Wednesday, July 9, 2014

In Another Universe the Premier Tweets About Teachers

I noticed Christy Clark’s tweets of support and congratulations to Genie Bouchard, Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil. That was nice. Last weekend was exciting for sports. Like me, Ms. Clark was watching both the Wimbledon finals and the World Cup match between Netherlands and Costa Rica. In soccer, she cheered for the underdogs; like her son, I cheered for Netherlands.  

I was watching the big events between games at the Beach Volleyball Open at Kits beach. My son was playing. He and his partner lost a hard-fought battle in the quarter finals. I was cheering from the sidelines as I've done for many years for many sports for many kids as a mom and as a teacher. I’m a big fan of the power of competitive sports to inspire kids through passionate experiences. I add this so no one thinks I’m against sports or don’t understand their importance.

Certainly our premier thinks sports events are important enough to tweet about. She’s not alone of course:  hours and hours of TV and radio time and pages and pages of newsprint have been dedicated to sports, along with millions of social media mentions. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who didn't know what happened at Wimbledon or hasn't followed at least some of the highlights at the World Cup. And compensation is commensurate with the attention we pay. As a runner-up at Wimbledon, 20-year old Genie won $1,492,000. The World Cup winning team in Brazil will win $35,000,000. This is just the icing on the cake for someone like Netherlands winger Arjen Robben who makes $7,500,000 a year in his day job.
I would argue, however, that there are many much more important things that we don’t seem to be paying attention to at all. Buried in the tweets about sports and celebrities, for example, you might find some about the amazing work of the incredible teachers around the world. I didn't find one in Christy Clark’s feed. Maybe I missed it. But if we pay wages according to what’s important to us and what’s important is revealed through what we pay attention to, it isn't surprising that we are still quibbling over wages for teachers in BC. Indeed, our premier has castigated teachers for their greediness in desiring a wage increase. What she means, really, is that she thinks the work teachers do doesn't matter enough to the people of BC to deserve more. Choices need to be made.

When I imagine an alternate universe, I don’t really wish teachers made millions. Disproportionate wages are always at the cost of someone in the community.  But In my alternate universe the premier would tweet about teachers - and the many other extraordinary people who contribute to the health of our community - at least as often as she tweets about the White Caps or the Canucks. Perhaps under such leadership we might begin to rethink what's most important.

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