Teacher protest has deep roots of unrest

Illustration by Rachel Dugo
Illustration by Rachel Dugo

Imagine working at a job. If you’ve never had a job, ask yourself what you’re doing with your life and then rifle through examples you’ve witnessed. Now imagine that there is no contract for this job, so you can be let go at any time and pay is not guaranteed.

Chico State faculty members don’t have to imagine. This has been their reality for the last 100-and some odd days while they negotiate new contracts with the university.

They don’t want to be paid the same amount for teaching 50 students that they were for 35. They want to be paid fairly.

Who can blame them? As much as students are outrageously overcharged for receiving can education, teachers are outrageously underpaid for dolling out that education.

It’s no fault of either of ours. The game has changed.

Gone are the days when $300 from a summer job paid for a year’s tuition and books.

College isn’t some fertile utopia of learning and growth where knowledge is all that’s exchanged. No, that would be too creative and too nurturing an environment.

Education is a for-profit business. Students are paying for a service, teachers are paid to administer that service.

There is no business where everyone wins. Sure, that H&M; sweater was a $12 score, but there’s a seamstress in Bangladesh that got paid 50 cents to make it. Someone comes out holding the short end of the straw every time.

In this case, teachers and students are both clinging — grasping — at the tiny piece they’ve been left. The system has made losers out of both of us.

It’s not like the money isn’t there to pay the teachers. There seems to be plenty of money for the chancellor, presidents and board of trustees to pay themselves handsomely.

I’m aware that just lopping $100,000 off the top-20 salaries in the CSU system doesn’t help teachers receive the raises they want, however satisfying it sounds.

I don’t know what the perfect solution is. That’s for people with more degrees and credentials than this humble writer to ascertain.

I do know that when the two most critical cogs in this machine aren’t happy with what they’re paying and getting paid, it’s time for a change.

Here CSU Board of Trustees, I’ll get you started: pay the teachers what they want. They deserve it. Proceed from there.

Matt Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or @mattmurphy93 on Twitter.