What if Key and Peele Are on to Something?
[dropcap]C[/dropcap]omedy Central comedians Key and Peele recently did a sketch that has gone viral, especially among my educator colleagues. It’s a parody of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” that begs the question, “What if we treated teachers like star athletes?”
In the video, “TeachingCenter” comes on the air with the kind of intense graphics fans see on SportsCenter. But instead of coverage of LeBron’s latest performance or the Mets’ winning streak, the action focuses on “star teachers.” The opening segment tells us about star English teacher Ruby Ruhf, who’s taking her talents “back to New York City” for an $80 million contract, with $40 million in bonuses based on students’ test scores . (Ouch, that last part hits a nerve. But that’s an article for another day.)
While SAT and ACT outcomes scroll across the bottom of the screen like they are college football final scores, fast forward to the next segment, the “Teacher Draft.”
The highly-coveted first pick is Mike Yoast, a Calculus teacher out of Tulsa Teachers College. “Just like that, you’re a millionaire,” quips Teaching Center anchor Perry Schmidt (a.k.a. Jordan Peele).
I’m both a sports fan and a comedy fan, and this video is really funny. I’d rate it as comic genius, in fact.
What’s sad, though, is that it’s funny because it’s so far from reality.
But I’m not here to complain about low pay, long hours and lack of respect, all facts of life for many in the teaching profession.
I’m here to take “Teaching Center” a step further.
What if teachers were not only drafted and paid millions, but what if they were truly idolized like athletes? What if students wore jerseys with star teachers’ names on them and had giant posters of their teaching idols on their bedroom walls?
What if students stood in long lines before class just to get a teacher’s autograph?
What if fantasy sports fans held drafts for their favorite teachers and watched with interest to see what their picks did every week?
What if the person most responsible for teaching you to read, arguably the single most important skill of your life, was treated with the same reverence as your favorite forward who sinks a 3-point shot at the buzzer?
That in itself could redefine the term “game changer.” And when you think about it, if we worship athletes for their physical abilities, why shouldn’t teachers be revered for their knowledge and for “performing” as the true heroes that many are? Don’t teachers deserve more credit for the long-term impact they have on the lives of others?
Maybe elevating the status of teachers to hero-worship levels is not an unreasonable premise.
The reality, though, is that as valuable as they are, good teachers are likely to shun the spotlight. Unlike the star athlete who thrives on individual glory, the star teacher revels in his or her students’ success. Only when the student “wins” does the teacher get to spike the ball or do a victory dance, figuratively speaking.
Educators score their greatest achievements by empowering someone else. How many other professions can say that?
Maybe the disconnect that’s at the core of “Teaching Center” is that even if society revered teachers for their profound contributions, these teachers probably wouldn’t take much of the credit. They wouldn’t call press conferences and star in car commercials. They’d continue to focus on “their kids” and tell the public what a great group of students they have.
The reverence? Sure, we educators will take it. The credit? Star teachers I know would probably shine the spotlight on the students whose lives they help to improve forever, something immeasurable in terms of recognition or celebrity.
And as for the $80 million? Well, let’s talk…
The opinions expressed here are solely those of Donna Krache.