Seth Meyers came to the defense of Detroit teachers in a big way in a segment on his “Late Night With Seth Meyers” television show.
For those not paying attention, Detroit teachers staged a sick-out for two days this week — one of many in recent months — to protest news that they were not likely to be paid for work they had done and would do through the end of the school year because the district was running out of funds. On Wednesday, schools re-opened after officials promised that teachers would in fact be paid for work they’ve already done.
Sick-outs have been staged periodically this year by Detroit teachers to call attention to the miserable conditions in Detroit public schools, where teachers and students have to deal with rats, roaches, mold, unreliable heat, inadequate textbooks and supplies and other things. On Jan. 21, a Michigan court rejected a request by school system officials for an injunction against the sick-outs.
Meyers did a long segment on the situation facing teachers, saying, “Clearly there is something wrong with the way our society values the work teachers do, and yet when teachers object to budget cuts or ask for increases in pay, they are dismissed and the politicians who dismiss them are often celebrated as straight-shooters.”
Then he showed a clip of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie arguing with a teacher about her salary. She said she was not being adequately compensated for her education or experience. Christie’s response: “Then you don’t have to do it.”
Meyers detailed the plight of some teachers around the country, such as those in South Dakota. He noted that the average teacher in South Dakota with a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience earns $33,600 annually — less, he said, than the average auto-repair worker. “Teachers, unlike mechanics, can’t just take one look at your kid and bill you for a bunch of made-up problems,” he said.
He said that the average salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and 10 years experience is $44,900, and that since 1999, teachers’ salaries in some states have dramatically fallen, such as a 13.7 drop in Indiana and a 13.3 percent drop in North Carolina.
“Teachers deserve to be paid more, but if for some reasons we can’t manage that let’s pay them for the work they’ve already done,” he said.
Watch the video. It is worth your time.