T Nation

Be A Teacher Be a Fool


Well, I visited the NEA website (National Educ Association) and it's pretty plain to see why education is so lousy in this country. It's the pay!

In 1940, a typical male hs teacher made about 3.6% MORE than a guy with a degree in a different field. By 2000, the other guy made 60% more.


So, the 'No Child Left Behind' and all that is just a crock. Its the pay -- raise the damn pay!!


Teachers get paid enough... You don't need a 200k annual income to teach well. You are either a good teacher or you are terrible. Most teachers are terrible and that would be why the education is so "lousy".


Smells like a crock of shit.

Are they claiming the average salary for any random asshole with a college degree is 60% higher than a teachers?


I think it is this, combined with the fact that many people become teachers just to get the summers off. I don't know how many teachers actually care about the kids they teach, but I've only had a handful that were actually good at what they did. Too many crappy teachers.


You're exactly right. In two years I will be a high school English teacher, and the pay is shit. I'm prepared for that though - I'm getting into the profession because I have a calling for it.

My dad has been a teacher for 34 years, and he is still only making about 80k. In any other field, someone with that kind of experience and expertise would be making double that.

People want to complain about the current state of education, yet all the reforms they pass just mask the fact that teachers have been getting shit on for years.


Or he would be out of a job.

Private industry chews up and spits out older workers.

The teaching profession generally keeps older workers for much longer.

It is folly to compare the two.

$ 80K for doing essentially the same job a fresh out of college kid does is a good deal. He should be thankful he has it. I am sure he does his job better than the fresh out of college kid but he should be thankful he doesn't have to justify this to some bean counter or be kicked out the door.

When you take into account the potential of summers off, sabbaticals, job security teaching is not a bad deal.


I just skimmed it and it looks like they are comparing to others with graduate degrees.

Since this pulls in doctors and lawyers etc. it is very skewed.

The NEA is clever.


Good call.


My kids have 175 days of school/year. Which means that teachers only work 1/2 the year. So to compare your Dad's salary to other industries you'ld have to nearly double it to make it a valid comparison. $160,000 is a pretty good salary.


I am so sick and tired about hearing how underpaid teachers are. I come from a family of teachers and they have all done quite well for themselves. My little sis came out of college and started at $38k. That's not bad at all considering her benefits package. Salary alone does not tell the whole story. Teachers have VERY good benes, including a terrific retirement package and way more vacation than other professions. When you consider the entire compensation and time on the job, a teacher's salary is quite competitive. Sure, a lot of teachers put in hours on their own time, but then again, so do I and I'll stack my average work week up against any teacher's. While I'm sure there are some school districts that aren't as competitive, people don't have to teach there just as stock brokers don't have to work at Charle Schwab or Merril Lynch,etc.

I'm not saying teachers don't have their valid complaints, but making a blanket statement that the education system in the U.S. is terrible (a highly debatable topic in itself) because of the non-competitive salaries is flat wrong.



The salary issues vary state to state, district to district. A good friend of mine is making less than me with equivalent years experonce in our fields. We're both in a very rural, fairly poor area, so the pay is actually quite good for around here. But if she moved to a more urban area, she could make close to double her salary and has been offered such. For her its a issue of being closer to family, and not moving off for the money.

Point is, yes teachers seem to be paid lower than some professions, but it also depends on where you teach at. The wealthier districts can pay more and get "better" teachers, just like a larger comapny can pay you more.

Ultimately though the responsibilty for a child getting an education is not the teachers or the schools, but the parents. They have to be involved and make sure their child is learning and geting the help they need.


Something to consider:

Personally, I've forgone a lot of money in industry to return to graduate school and pursue a career in education, despite the wide variance in pay.

My point?

If money is the sole motivator to someone to excel at their CHOSEN career path, then I'd suggest that someone choose a different career.

As adults, we research and know the financial potential(s) w/in the field(s) in which we pursue; to enter into that career and assume he/she is more deserving in wealth is an exercise in ignorance and greed.

My mother spent her entire life as an elementary school teacher, and she'd often express her love for her role in helping to educate young children. It's my opinion that many genuine teachers would, of course, prefer to make a lot more money, however, those same genuinely great treachers would likely take offense by the contention that they're "oath of poverty" makes them a poor educator.

[btw, it's an inside joke that academicians refer to themselves taking an "oath of poverty" when they choose a career in education].

Hope this helps you see that not all problems in our society can, nor should be solved by randomly throwing money at people in hopes that it goes toward improving a situation. - chris


Teachers do NOT create dumb kids

Parents do.


Working half the year and putting in 12 + hour days 5 days a week. What people don't realize is all that goes into teaching. You don't just show up 10 minutes before the students do and do your job. You don't leave when the after school bell rings. Many are there 2 hours before and 2 hours after. They also take their work home with them. They have papers to grade, lesson plans to make, and parent phone calls to deal with at home. Yes, parents will call you at all hours of the night. I taught for three years, 1997-2000. I made about 21,000 a year. To pay my college loans and my rent payment, and car payment I also worked two other jobs as well as coached three sports. Yeah, I knew the pay sucked going in, but that is also why I am no longer a teacher. I couldn't aford it. It is too bad because I actually was in it for the kids.


I don't think it's necessarily about throwing money randomly at people. It's about making salaries more competitive in order to attract more people to the profession. You're supposed to do something you love, but at some point for a lot of people, the utility of the extra money will outwiegh the satisfaction of working with kids. Some of my best experiences have involved coaching youth baseball and basketball, and I think I could probably make a fine teacher, but I'd rather have the financial security offered by making twice as much money. Will simply offering better salaries fix the problem? No. Public schools will still be in a constant budget crunch, and parents probably still won't take enough of a roll in their children's education. But getting more educated and qualified people in the classroom ceratinly can't hurt. If you consider it from a basic personal economic standpoint, you can spend $60,000 for two years of ed school, and start at making $40,000, or spend $90,000 for three years of law school and start out making $75,000. You're financially ahead after only three years going the law route, and the gap only widens from there, especially given the much greater potential for significant earnings increases. If you care about real financial security, why would one even consider teaching?

How to raise salaries? Can't tell you. Government subsidies probably aren't the route. But it'd be nice in perfect world.

On a side note, yeah, maybe there are only 175 days of school a year. But last time I checked, most people get weekends off. So barring any vacation time, I think we're looking at about 240 days work/year for the average professional, not 365. "Doubling" the salary isn't a valid comparison


It's comparing bachelor degree holders, year by year.

In 1940, a teacher with a BA made slightly more than someone of equivalent education. By 2000, someone with a BA makes average 60% more.

Doctors are not in the mix, because of the advanced degree requirements.


You get what you pay for. Crappy pay... crappy teaching.

How many of you guys want to teach 5 or so classes/day with about 28 smiling faces in each, go home and keep working (grading, writing tests, etc), all for a whopping $28,000 per year, to start?



If a heart surgeon does one major surgery per week, which takes 5 hours to do on average, then is he also overpaid? Hey, look at all the off time he has! Wow!!


My bad...it is possible law and med could be in the mix.

So, to treat our children's bodies, we'll pay someone a small fortune. To treat their minds, we'll pay them a pittance.

Similar logic for law...shame.


Thank you.

If someone is a teacher in a $hitty school with kids who don't care about learning anything, the parents have to take responsibility. Good teacher or not, you can't force someone to learn if they don't want to.

Too many parents think they can just send their kids to school and everything will fine. Education doesn't just occur between 8am and 3pm.