No Subsidy For Cupid, Stupid (Lessons In Pay Equity & The Value Of Teachers, From 1948)

I found this article, Subsidy For Cupid: Request for Salary Differential for Married Teachers Is Unsound, in the December 10, 1948, edition of The Wisconsin State Journal.

The first line reads, “The board of education has been asked to establish a permanent salary differential of $600 annually for instructors who are married.” This had me thinking that the proposed salary adjustment would remove $600 a year for married teachers; you know, because married women are therefore little women who do not really need a salary anyway. But then we get to the second line. “The request comes from the recently-organized Madison Schoolmasters club, whose members are married teachers in the city’s school system.” Surely this club would not be suggesting they cut their own salaries?!

Read on:

This type of a salary differential is based upon a poorly-thought-out idea, upon a misconception of the purposes of a salary structure, and is suggested without foresight.

Teachers’ salaries, like all others, should be based upon value received. All teachers should be paid decently, and The State Journal has pushed hard for a minimum teachers salary law that will attract qualified men and women to the profession.

[Hear that, Scott Walker, et al.?]

But in any good system, workers’ salaries are set with an eye on the value of the individual worker. The scales are based on training and background, efficiency, ability to cooperate, and perhaps seniority.

Unmarried teachers should not be penalized because they happen to prefer to remain unmarried.

[The picture becomes a bit clearer now...]

Taxpayers should not be asked to grant special subsidies to teachers who prefer to get married, any more than they should be asked to subsidize teachers who choose to buy automobiles or houses or trips to Europe.

[I am astounded at the suggestion that at any time in our history a teacher could afford a trip to Europe on their own salary!]

By all means, school salaries should be substantial enough to allow a teacher to get married if he wishes.

A-ha! So here it is! We are primarily speaking of male teachers! You know men, they have to take care of the little woman, the kids, the bills, the dog… No woman has to do that.]

But he shouldn’t get a bonus for walking to the altar, or for accumulating other personal obligations. Those matters are up to the individual.

***

There is good reason for teachers — particularly those who are married — to oppose the plan.

During a depression, boards of education must cut expenses, If that married-teacher salary differential were on the books, the inclination of money-conscious school board members would be to hire instructors whose personal status didn’t require payment of that extra $600. That would man less job-security for the very people who would need it most.

While the ending line nearly eradicates my hopes of some sort of gender equality, the lines before it certainly are felt in the pink ghetto and by women at every level during the rough economic times. When talking heads speak of how women are faring better, their 77 cents to a man’s dollar means a twisted sort of job-security.

About Deanna