Speaking Kurtly

by Kurt Johnson


It seems everywhere I turn lately I see examples of executives, managers, leaders of all kinds making decisions about things we don’t clearly understand without checking in with those in the middle of working the problems. It’s something about which I am constantly trying to remind myself in my management roles, often without a full measure of success.

It happens when management of a large organization implements procedures without understanding the unintended consequences that may follow for the staff actually doing the work. It happens when a government entity imposes laws and mandates without seeking information from the governed.

For all our experience when we reach, or are placed in, a management position, there is no substitute for the understanding and expertise of people who remain in the fight on a daily basis. Counseling with those experts before we impose restrictions, rules, etc. on them is a sure way to save a lot of heartache all the way around.

This can be seen pretty clearly any time a bureaucratic machine makes rules regarding education without taking the time to discuss the ramifications with local education leaders, teachers, and parents.

As managers, we think we’ve been there and we know what’s best, but as it turns out, there are people in the middle of the situation who could help us make better decisions just by the questions they ask. Why do we shy away from that interaction and input?

Salary discrepancies

When speaking of education and those experts in the field, I’m constantly amazed at how much we, as a society, seem to ignore the value of teachers.

Unless something has changed, it is my understanding that the highest paid public employee in the state of Utah is the football coach at the University of Utah. Don’t get me wrong, Kyle Whittingham is a great coach and I love his work, but an elementary school teacher in Piute or Wayne county will have a significantly larger impact on society through the kids with whom she interacts than Coach Whittingham will ever have.

It’s not like it’s a small salary discrepancy either.

I love sports as much as the next guy, but when we have an education crisis in our community, we throw our hands up and say that we get it, but there are no easy answers. Imagine the impact we could have on public education if the financial needs for funding education received the same level of intensity that college football teams receive when the subject of Name, Image, and Likeness comes up.

It’s a relatively small population of people, but fans who are so tied to the success of their college football team will rise up and call for major multi-million dollar fundraising efforts so that college athletes can be paid more and more for their services in order to allow their team to be more competitive in recruiting athletes. All so their team can win more games.

So, it’s not NIL, but where’s the intensity when we can’t find enough people willing to sacrifice earning potential because they love teaching our children and are willing to do so?