When a professional basketball player wraps up a stellar career, he often walks away with millions. If he has been particularly outstanding, his number is retired and his jersey is hung from the rafters of his home arena. As time passes, his exploits may be recalled, with decreasing frequency, at sports bars.
When a stellar teacher retires, he or she--if lucky--can look forward to the promise of a reasonable pension. His legacy is not a retired number, but a flicker of inspiration carried in the hearts and minds of the students he touched.
When those students grow old and take stock of what they have done with their lives, they may credit that dedicated professional who set them on the path that enabled them to exploit their individual potential to its fullest.
Both the basketball player and the teacher chose their line of work out of love for their profession. There is nothing wrong with rewarding the basketball player for providing us with high-quality--albeit transitory--entertainment. He performed his role with excellence.
There is something wrong, however, with so undervaluing the profession of those to whom we entrust the nurturing of our children's intellects that they must struggle for decent pay and a respectable retirement.
Yes, we are in desperate economic straits, but surely we owe our teachers more than that.