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Commemorate Brown decision by adequately paying teachers

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Julianne Malveaux | 5/18/2019, 6 a.m.
Sixty-five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Brown v. Board of Education case that the doctrine of ...

So the nonsense we celebrated during the week of May 6, Teacher Appreciation Week, is a charade. If you want to appreciate teachers, pay them! Don’t offer folks two-for-one burritos at Chipotle or other food fringes when what teachers need is fair pay. Don’t give teachers apples and faux appreciation when the teachers who graciously accept your apples and recognition are hustling outside the classroom to make ends meet.

Teachers are striking all over the country, even in places like West Virginia where we would least expect it, because they are desperate to be valued. Paying them less than they are worth is disrespectful. Offering half price burritos and other nonsense is hypocrisy at its highest.

The Brown v. Board of Education decision changed the law, but not the structure of racial gaps in education. And it did not foresee the many ways that those who deliver the educational product, our nation’s teachers, have been disrespected and disadvantaged by the structural indifference to classrooms that serve poor and black students.

Sixty-five years after the Brown decision, the achievement gap is persistent. Our nation’s wealth gap is a function of that achievement gap, and the treatment of our nation’s teachers is connected to the wealth and achievement gap.

When we commemorate Brown v. Board of Education, we must embrace the importance of adequately compensating teachers. In embracing our teachers, we support the children they are teaching and guiding. In ignoring issues of fair teacher compensation, we are utterly abandoning our children.

The writer is an economist and author.