Our daughter is a high school senior and interested in becoming an elementary education major (a teacher) when she begins college this fall. When she told my wife and me this nearly a year ago, we were very happy and proud of her. The world certainly can always use more great teachers and more importantly people that seek out teaching as an avocation as opposed to those that end up there.
Being an aware person, our daughter is also cognizant that teachers are not very well compensated. And new teachers are even less so. An article in Wednesday’s New York Times reminded me of something that’s been bothering me for a long time http://nyti.ms/hyBDEM which is the financial disincentive for bright young (and not young) minds to enter the education field. The idea that teachers only work from 8 until 3 and have weekends and three months off is a fallacy. Teachers grade papers and create lesson plans at night and on weekends; they take courses in the summer to keep up their certifications. Additionally, many teachers take second jobs simply to make ends meet.
How did it get to be this way? It’s not the same as in politics where I feel many smart and capable people stay away from ever getting involved even if they would want to help due to the scrutiny and shenanigans that accompany a life in politics. One could argue that politicians are at least appreciated to a certain degree. But that’s not often the case with the teaching profession.
When you are a parent and you meet your child’s kindergarten teacher you are focused on ascertaining that the teacher is a good one and will understand the individual skills and needs of your child. At that moment many people would be willing to hand over the cash in their pocket to ensure that the teacher would pay special attention to their cherished, precious baby. Yet it doesn’t happen that way.
As students matriculate parents become less patient and more aggravated with their school systems, their administrators, and yes individual teachers as well. Of course there are plenty of bad teachers out there and that’s an ongoing problem that has to be addressed. And politicians consistently discuss improving our schools, installing more benchmarks, testing score targets and the like. But to do that with shrinking budgets, increasing class sizes and uninvolved parents makes it increasingly difficult.
So here’s the conundrum. I feel teachers should be among the BEST paid workers. The United States is losing ground across the board to countless countries across the globe. Students in other countries have higher test scores and have more motivation and desire to learn. The world is going to eat our lunch right from our under our noses. It’s happening day by day.
To me it seems so horribly out of place that a backup Major League Baseball utility infielder should make $ 500,000 annually (more than ten times what teachers get paid) for – hmm, let’s see – 8 months of work (if you include spring training) although in season they do have to work weekends.
While there are so many problems inherent in the world of education, I remain convinced that our daughter is doing a great – and brave, thing by considering getting into the education field. I hope that for her sake that once she is educated and sees how teachers are perceived and compensated, she does not use that knowledge to abandon ship and seek other fields. But I wouldn’t blame her if she did. And that’s just sad.