JIM SHARPE

Sharper Point: The kids are back in school — let’s party!

Aug 6, 2018, 12:19 PM | Updated: 12:20 pm
Lyric Sharpe, right, with pal Audreena at kindergarten orientation. (KTAR.com Photo/Jim Sharpe)...
Lyric Sharpe, right, with pal Audreena at kindergarten orientation. (KTAR.com Photo/Jim Sharpe)
(KTAR.com Photo/Jim Sharpe)

As of this week, most Valley schools are finally back in session. 

I don’t know how you feel about seeing the kiddos toddle off to another year of learning, but at our house it’s a party! 

Listen, I do really love my kids, but I also enjoy at least 10 minutes between toy-motivated fights in my house. Honestly, I don’t think playing with dolls is a good training ground for parenting when you’re willing to yank a baby doll away from your little sister with such force that it loses a limb. 

But there’s also another, much smaller, reason for a celebration. My wife is a public school teacher and she’s been promised a raise this year. 

While we are grateful, we haven’t exactly created an “I got a raise!” dance. That’s because the actual raise hasn’t shown up yet, and when it does it, my wife will earn enough (after taxes) to pay our water bill. 

But as my wife likes to remind me, she didn’t get into education to get rich. So, as parents, our primary focus regarding teacher raises is wondering if it will make a difference for the kids. 

After all, they are the reason we have schools and why teachers have jobs in the first place. 

Personal finance website WalletHub just did an analysis of nationwide school data and they confirmed what we’ve already known: Arizona schools ain’t so good. 

(There’s an example right there: I went to public school in Arizona and I just used the word “ain’t”!) 

WalletHub’s rankings say Arizona’s schools (as a whole) are 47th overall. And we’re ranked 48th in quality. 

Thank goodness they included Washington, D.C., in their analysis. That way, we aren’t third worst. We’re only fourth worst. 

As a group, based on the education level and the ongoing training that they are required to have, teachers definitely deserved more money. But we will also have to have a serious conversation in a few short years about whether teacher pay being raised has raised the quality of education in our state. That needs to be the reason we do anything with our schools. 

Determining that might be tough, however.

In the real world, customers ultimately decide whether people working for a business get a raise. Things like quality of workmanship and customer service keep people coming back and cash registers ringing. 

More profit means more money for the workers. And if people aren’t rewarded for helping their employer succeed, that business runs the risk of losing that workers superior work and/or great customer service to a competitor. 

But many “real-world” market forces don’t apply (some don’t even exist at all) when an entity, like a public school, is run by the government. Political agendas, superfluous spending, incorrectly applied manpower and an inability to quickly adjust to customer demand can get in the way of serving customers (our kids) at a high level. 

These mitigating factors might make it tough to determine which teachers deserve raises, which deserve a bigger raise, and which teachers deserve to be shown the door. 

Because I want everything we do in education to be about the kids. 

Even if it means I have to start paying the water bill out of my checking account again. 

Jim Sharpe

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Sharper Point: The kids are back in school — let’s party!