The majority of Hanover teachers are dedicated, career educators who care more about our students than our paychecks, but we are poised on a dangerous precipice. Year after year we have been asked to do more with less resources, such as teaching 21st century skills with outdated, limited technology to an ever-increasing number of students in facilities that are older than a half-century, but we have always risen to the challenge.
There comes a time, however, when even the most dedicated teachers have to consider the opportunity costs of such dedication. In economic terms, opportunity costs are what you give up in order to get something else, or simply what you would have done if you didn’t make the choice that you did.
For instance, the reality is there are only 24 hours in a day. No matter how much money one has, one cannot buy more. It’s not like teachers can magically “buy” more time to do extra work without taking time away from our present responsibilities and obligations to school and family. So what would be the opportunity costs of teaching 6 classes instead of 5? To calculate that, I would have to consider what I would be doing if I were still teaching just 5 classes as opposed to what I would now not have time to do if I have to teach 6?
I can’t help but wonder how many dedicated Hanover teachers faced with this scenario are going to decide that the benefits of teaching in Hanover are no longer worth the opportunity costs?
Harper Lee’s character Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird perhaps said it best. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” I would not want to walk around in the skin of a Hanover Board of Supervisor member or a Hanover School Board member trying to balance the budget right now, but I do suggest they try to consider what it’s like to walk around in the skin of a Hanover teacher.
Teachers have been forced to absorb enormous opportunity costs over the years while continuing to provide a quality education to Hanover County students. We have “paid” dearly for each balanced budget, but we can no longer silently stand by as the quality of education in this county is being endangered?
As you make these tough budget decisions, please don’t lose sight of the fact that teachers are human beings, not just numbers and dollar signs, and they daily shape the future of this county as well as this country. Who do you want doing that important job, and what are you willing to do to retain dedicated, quality educators who are going to continue to provide Hanover students with the life skills that will enable them to be the best contributing members of society that they can be?
I respectfully ask you to consider the opportunity costs carefully!
A Dedicated Hanover Teacher