Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why doesn't the U.S. value educators?

I like talking about educators. They have one of the most interesting jobs out there - almost cartoonishly entrancing in some cases. I wondered before if some people can't be educated, and now I have another question: Why do teachers get such lousy pay? The NY Times says U.S. teachers rank 11th in the world in salaries, which is better than I thought, but still very low for all the hours they work.

So why? Why are police viewed as heroes for saving lives, but teaching, which affects far more children, is seen by many as a back-up profession? Next to your parents, teachers have some of the greatest potential to pushing you towards career excellence. People always credit their teachers for their success. They spend up to eight hours a day with our kids, after all. We value our babysitters and day care when our kids are younger, so why don't teacher salaries match this interest when our kids are older? We value teachers, but we hate paying them - or, more accurately, the idea of paying tuition. Someone else should pay for this, not me.

My friend Ilan says we don't value teaching because we think that anyone can do it. They're just talking from a book, right? Anyone can do that, right? Well apparently not, since you need a Master's equivalent before you're allowed in a public school.

I don't know where this is all going, but it just seems that it says a lot about our society that we undervalue our teachers so much. Teaching is probably about as glamorous as plumbing in the U.S., and yet it pays much, much worse.

1 comment:

shesthesheriff said...

B/C America has always treated symptoms instead of addressing root causes.

I agree-back home here a cop ran into a telephone pole in his cruiser and died recently, practically the entire state attended his funeral. I'm not saying I don't value police, after all they have the most dangerous job, but that sort of ten gun salute treatment is less likely to happen for a nurse or a teacher.

Here's an interesting fact-many school districts implement something called 'salary averaging' in their budget figures. So if you have a school district, say Boston, with 135 schools, they might say something like the average salary is 45K. But this is misleading, because a teacher in Roxbury or another low income area is making 25K, and someone in Cambridge/Belmont might be making 70K.

So of course, the veteran teachers are going to flock to the rich areas, and what do you get? A bunch of rookies teaching at the failing schools i.e. the ones usually featured in the nightly news. The average American sees it and says 'teachers suck'. Kind of depressing!