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If you have a precious resource wouldn’t take good care of it? Wouldn’t you ensure that those you entrust to take care of it are well paid and happy, so that they can do their job well? Our children are the most precious resource we have as parents and as a society. They are the future leaders, innovators and workforce. We need to ensure that they have an environment that allows them to flourish. Who do they spend most of their time with? Yes, teachers.

I could never understand why it is that teachers have to fight to get wage increases and better working conditions. It seems to me that teachers should be one of the most well paid and lucrative jobs on this planet, because we entrust the future generation to these individuals. They spend more time with our children than we do. They have a direct impact on how well our children develop both academically and socially. How many of you have had a teacher who really motivated you? I am sure you can still remember that teacher.

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The 2011 study conducted by Harvard and Columbia universities, entitled “The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood”, showed the impact that teachers have on students’ lives after they graduate. The study found that, when students had a better teacher in a single grade, it increases the probability of that of those children attending university and having higher earnings by age 28. They also found that students who had high quality teachers improved their chances of living in better neighbors and having more retirement savings.

While no amount of remuneration can get rid of ill-tempered teachers and there will always be the few who would slack off, most teachers fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Many go into teaching for the love of it. When you meet a real teacher, you know it instantly. My most recent encounter of a real teacher is my daughter’s French teacher. He managed to motivate and entertain, while teaching her. It was the first time I saw her so excited about French. She took more initiative and was more engaged in his class than any other French class she had before. Her other teachers are all equally devoted to their jobs and they go beyond what is expected of them. It is not uncommon to find teachers spending their spare time preparing material for their class. Sometimes I think we can’t pay them enough.

I did my PhD thesis on government spending on infrastructure. From three different perspectives my research came to the same conclusion and that is if the government had one extra dollar to spend on infrastructure they should spend it on human infrastructure, which is spending on the education system, academic institutes, and other social programs. My research showed that while overall spending in both physical and human infrastructure benefited economic growth, the investment in human infrastructure, that is spending on the education system, academic institutes, and other social programs had a greater impact on economic growth than spending on physical infrastructure, roads and the like.

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We have undeniable evidence of the importance of education not only to the individual, but also to society as a whole. Education increases an individual’s earning capacity and also has a positive “ripple effect” on society. Then, why must we fight with our teachers. As it stands teachers from pre-kindergarten to high school are not given the respect or resources that they deserve. I support the teachers in their demands for better working conditions. I know that my children will get the short end of the stick in the process, but in the long run it will be better for everyone. We need to ensure that our teachers are motivated, so that they can inspire and bring out the best in our kids. When this happens, we end up with outstanding future leaders and innovators which can take society to even greater heights.

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Dr. M
http://www.thekidonomicsseries.com

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