I signed some important paperwork here a few weeks ago:
I start a new job today! I will be working one on one with students at a nearby middle school (6th and 7th graders) that are part of a retention increasing program. My job comes with a great deal of flexibility regarding what a typical day might look like, but it also comes with huge responsibility.
I believe that any job in the education field is worthy of society's respect and gratitude. I wrote a post on my old blog about a year and a half ago that I'm re-posting here. I know it's long, but I hope you will take the time to read it...and thank a teacher the next time you run into one!
(I'll update with more details on my decision to return to the education field in a future post.)
April 30, 2011
I grew up in a family of educators and saw firsthand that it was often an unappreciated job with a serious cap on how much you can earn, no matter how hard you work. I promised I would never be a teacher.
I was a teacher for two years.
I think God was laughing every time I said "I'll never be a teacher." He laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Then there I was, at the age of twenty one, entrusted with the lives and futures of 150 students each semester.
Did you know teacher's don't get a playbook from the school? Did you know they come up with all the curriculum on their own? Did you know their classrooms don't come pre-decorated with boxes of new supplies? Did you know most new teachers pay out of pocket (months before their first paycheck) to fill their rooms?
I was called to be a teacher for a season. I learned lessons I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The time was right for me to leave the teaching profession after two years for many reasons (moving to a new city where the state's only medical school is located has a way of shaking life up a bit). However, many young teachers leave the profession for very different reasons. "Nationwide, 46 percent of teachers quit before their fifth year."
Why could this be? It's such an easy job, isn't it? I mean, summers and holidays off--why would anyone quit? Well, it turns out even teachers and their families have to put food on the table. Who knew they couldn't live off all the love and support our society and students give them?
"At the moment, the average teacher’s pay is on par with that of a toll taker or bartender. Teachers make 14 percent less than professionals in other occupations that require similar levels of education. In real terms, teachers’ salaries have declined for 30 years. The average starting salary is $39,000; the average ending salary — after 25 years in the profession — is $67,000."
If that doesn't make you think, consider this additional tidbit: "Sixty-two percent [of teachers] work outside the classroom to make ends meet." Awesome. Because we wouldn't want them spending all that extra time working on lesson plans and getting a few hours of sleep. They should definitely be getting a second job because their first job isn't that important. Oh, wait...
We trust teachers to lay the foundation for every member of our community. Presidents, CEOs, bankers, lawyers, doctors all have one thing in common--teachers laid their learning foundation. What could be more important?!
The NY Times article I linked to above is worth your time. It does a great job pointing out that we as a society are quick to point fingers at teachers when we don't see the results we want in our students. We blame and punish teachers instead of supporting them. What improvements would we see if we actually tried to recruit the best of the best to become teachers? We'd have to pay them like they're the best of the best, but wouldn't that be a wise investment?
This post is too long, and I doubt anyone will suffer through the entire thing, but more people have to speak up on this extremely important issue or we will all suffer the consequences of a failing education system. I'll end with this great little story (author unknown) that always makes me chuckle :)
Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year. It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit. We can get that for less than minimum wage.
That’s right. Let’s give them $3 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan– that equals 6 1/2 hours).
Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day.
However, remember they only work 180 days a year. I am not going to pay them for any vacations.
LET’S SEE…That’s $585 X 180= $105,300 per year. (Hold on. My calculator needs new batteries.)
What about those special education teachers and the ones with master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.
Wait a minute — there’s something wrong here. There sure is.
The average teacher’s salary (nationwide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students=$9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student– a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!)
WHAT A DEAL!