Why Teachers Are Tougher Than NHL Hockey Players

This Saturday I spoke with my mother as I am apt to do on a Saturday. By profession she is a teacher in the Philadelphia public school system at a school so bad they have to pay a bonus for teachers brave enough to teach there. She has a masters in education as well as a masters in fine arts. She taught at one point in her career (back when I was an infant and the Flyers could actually WIN a Cup) and then returned to teaching later in life.

Last year, the teacher’s union came to my mom (who is 2 years away from retirement at the top pay scale) and asked her to be the union steward. She gave them an enthusiastic NO. They asked again. They asked a third, fourth and fifth time. Each time receiving – NO as the answer. Basically, on the 7th or 8th time they made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. Now she is the person every teacher with a problem goes to in order to complain. With the new principal at the school there is reportedly a lot to complain about. For the record she makes just over $50,000 US. That’s with two master degrees. One of which she is still paying for.

The reason I bring this up is because the teachers in the Philadelphia Public School System are teaching right now without a contract. That’s right – they have no deal between their union and the state – who had to take over the Philly school system because it was SO grossly mismanaged.

UNLIKE hockey players – teachers are not paid to be millionaires or multi-millionaires. A fourth line player in the NHL who send love notes to Bob Goodenow via email while waxing his Lamborghini with all of his free time thanks to not playing hockey these days – is paid upwards of $1,000,000 per year. Do they have advanced degrees? No. Do they educate our youth? No. Do they serve as mentors to under-privilidged children? At best – on rare occasion. Life for them is about working out with a trianer, shopping for Armani Black Label Suits to wear to the rink and negotiating lofty appeance fees for celebrity golf tournements in the offseason. This is the same group of multi-millionaires who “will not under any cir*****stance accept a salary cap” that would ensure that players for years to come make million dollar salaries while at the same time the small market teams remain solvant.

There is a lot that can be learned by the players union from the Philadelphia teacher’s union. If Bob Goodenow wants my mom’s number, I am sure she would talk some sense into both sides PHILLY-style. There is a bigger issue at hand. In the case of teachers, it is the well being of poor and seriously neglected children. If George Bush has any idea how many children are “left behind” he would be ashamed. In the case of the NHL, the growth and health of the game of hockey. Personally, I think the children are more important but I would settle for both sides in the CBA argument to hire a professional arbitration service to hammer out a solution that works for both sides. Drawing this line in the sand is getting nothing accomplished other than ruining the game of NHL hockey.

Lastly, in an incredibly important election year in the U.S. I urge voters to get out and vote no matter what and no matter who you vote for. There is absolutely NO excuse for you not to case the vote you are given as a citizen in the richest and most powerful country in the world. If you are undecided about who to vote for consider the situation in the schools in major cities as a major issue of concern. In fact, ask a teacher about it. The federal government spends $300,000,000 per year to find “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq (while Osama is in a cave in Afganastan with only a few of our boys looking for him) but invests less than 10 percent of the cost of all of the public school costs. The results are: litterally (and I am not joking) no book or materials for students in places like Philadelphia and Los Angeles. With the tax revenue created by our all-powerful economy, this is shameful and should stop. You can make a difference with your vote as well as volanteering at your local school. Kids love guest to read to them (fairy tales about how the Leafs once one a cup go over big with 7 year olds). Also if you can swing it – bring some markers, paper and crayons to a school that is underfunded. They need your support and it feels good to be part of a solution to a big problem. Bettman and Goodenow could use to learn that lesson.

Jerry Del Colliano