Monday, April 30, 2012

Your teachers are NOT paid too much money

I have yet to meet one, but there are people out there who believe school teachers are paid too much. They are wrong. Everyone has a right to their own opinion, even wrong ones, but this is an opinion that shouldn't be allowed.

Why do they think that?

In explaining this we come across a multi-faced problem, the biggest ones are; the state, parents, students, and teachers.

The state is the eternal thorn in the side of every teacher. The state has in some form or another provided free education, available to any child, so it is only natural that they wish the institutions they fund to meet certain standards in quality. The most popular form of this takes the form of state testing. The critical flaw in this line of reasoning is in how the testing and the state mandated curriculum overlap (I will use Texas as an example because I am the most familiar with it). The state standards for the curriculum are set by the texas board of education. A semi-civilian/state business who's role is to oversee all school districts in the state (and in extreme cases, take over or shut down schools or districts). There are fifteen people in charge of this organization and the unfortunate part is they are all associated to political parties. So instead of 15 people who wish to provide the highest standards in knowledge and turn the student population into free thinkers (whom are able to objectively review information, make decisions for themselves, and synthesize new information), they want to redact Thomas Jefferson's emphasis on the separation of church and state and emphasize the importance of religion to the founding fathers. Anyone who simply reads some basic history books will learn that the founding fathers were non denominational or spiritualists and they designed the Establishment Clause in the 1st amendment for that reason. The primary issue teachers take with the state is the state testing. Because so much of our job security relies on students passing it, teachers tend to suspend teaching the subjects in lieu of teaching students how to take the test and what will be on the test. We have to do this because it is all that we know that will be on the test, if we try to go beyond the test, we risk the grades going down, lowering government aid, and risk intervention from outside agencies.

The students are the easiest problem to fix and are directly related to the issue of the parents. Kids are kids, they will always misbehave and they will always find a reason to do it as often as possible, but with the parents standing behind the teachers the children will improve drastically.

The teachers as part of the problem invokes the classic adage: "those who cannot do, teach". You can not fathom how wrong this is.  I have personally refused to accept jobs I am qualified for because I desire more practical experience in my field before I teach so I can expand the knowledge of my subject. Then there are the few unfortunate teachers that prove the adage right, they have spent twenty years a geologist for an oil company that just went out of business and need a new job. They're too old to be hired at another company so they tell themselves "well, geology is a type of science, so I'll teach!" so they get their certification and begin to fail miserably at inspiring and teaching. They do not understand how to teach children, they never had to manage a room of thirty or forty kids without a safety net of any kind (the master teacher to back them up or the assistant principal on standby). So they yell and scream at the kids assuming that is how it works. This is a terrible idea, one of the most important functions of a teacher is to impart the desire to achieve greater things and yelling at the kids isn't going to work. Another BIG issue is one teacher trying to teach a class of over thirty-five students. There are very few fields of study that involve classes of that size (music and physical education being two of them). Music teachers are used to classes of fifty and larger because that is the environment they were taught their subject in. However when a math teacher has to teach forty disinterested kids, it quickly devolves to hell on earth. So why do we have classrooms with thirty plus kids on average? Because of budget cuts. Schools know they don't have enough space so they try to get a building expansion, but the taxpayers don't want to pay anymore so the school has to make do. The school shuffles the room assignments around to free up some extra space to hire more teachers but when the school district proposes another tax hike to pay for their salaries, the tax payers say no. These kids are the ones who will be running the businesses you shop at, the backbone of your community and yet so few are willing to contribute what is needed to make their education more valuable.

The last group that causes unmitigated pain in the word of teaching is the most significant: parents. At some point in the 80's or 90's parents activated some form of telepathic osmosis and decided that school wasn't a place to learn, it was a free babysitter. "My kid dun need no lernun', he gun be a tow truck drivr like mah daddy, and me." Well bravo sir, you're now part of the problem. I have nothing against tow truck drivers, they perform a necessary function, what I do have a problem with is people down playing the importance of education just because they don't think they'll need it later. Even the lowliest of jobs require math, reading, basic science, critical thinking, and reasoning. There is NO reason for parents to tell a child that education is not important, NONE what so ever. Parents, teachers aren't trying to tell you how to raise your children, they're giving you tools to make it easier and to give your child a better chance at being that famous doctor or lawyer or scientist. No matter the economic background, if a parent is willing to be interested in their child's life and education, the teacher will bend over backwards and jump through as many hoops as possible to help, guaranteed. Parents, YOU are the final say as to whether what we teach matters so please PLEASE help your teachers.

Finally, we return to the subject that this article was written for. NO your teacher is not paid too much. Teachers are willing to spend their own meager earning to try and give their students a chance at success, something the parents should be doing. We work hard to make the day's lesson a positive and memorable experience, worthy of the student saying "Yes, this is important to know."

I wish to impart one last piece of info before you return to your daily routine, how much a teacher is paid.

about $46,500/yr

Lets break it down:

the summer break is on average 2-3 months long, some districts allow teachers to take all their salary during only the school year, some get it all 12 months. We will look at both types.

Monthly pay:
9 month: 46,500/9= 5,166/mo
12 month: 46,500/9= 3,875/mo

Daily pay:
9 month (30 day/mo avg): 5,166/30=172.20/day
12 month (365 days): 46,500/365=127.39/day

per student*:
9 month (180 students): 172.20/180=0.95/student
12 month (180 students): 127.39/180=0.70/student

*the average teacher has 6 classes of 30 students each (6*30=180)

That is before taxes (federal/state/local/social/etc.) which varies from state to state. If you wish to get more accurate, then the final result would be to subtract 7 to 13 cents from the per student numbers.

Conclusion: Your child's teacher is paid 0.70 to 0.95 cents a day to teach them. If you think being paid less than a dollar a day per student is a fair wage then you are wrong. Plain and simple wrong.