Sunday, August 18, 2013

Exhaustion and Teaching Salaries - Two Angry and Valid Arguments Worth Listening To

The time for my actual teaching experience is almost here. Students come to class on the 22nd, and I am terrified. 

That being said, I am also very excited and tired. I haven't been able attend to my blog like I have wanted to, and that is ok, because there are more important things. This week I decided to cop out and just share two articles I think are worth reading. That being said, I don't think they are perfect articles, and I don't agree with everything said in them. But I do believe in their core messages. 

1. Below is an excerpt from The Exhaustion of the American Teacher. I haven't even started teaching yet, and I am exhausted. I have already put in huge amounts of time, but I won't get paid with dollars or satisfaction for a few more weeks. The article seeks to push readers away from the problems of kids these days, and points to adults as the real issue of today's education. 

While this article makes some good points, the author is clearly very angry and is guilty of a few logical fallacies. Though the argument is passionate and wide-swinging, I still think it is valid. I wish there were an easy answer.

Bottom line: The problem with American Education may merely be a bigger problem of American Adult vision and values. 

2. The next article also comes from a frustrated educator, but with a more specific problem: The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries. As I read this I couldn't help feeling a little indignation of my own, especially after seeing what kinds of insurance packages for my family the school district can (or rather can't) offer this year.
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. This prices teachers out of home ownership in 32 metropolitan areas, and makes raising a family on one salary near impossible. 
So how do teachers cope? Sixty-two percent work outside the classroom to make ends meet. For Erik Benner, an award-winning history teacher in Keller, Tex., money has been a constant struggle. He has two children, and for 15 years has been unable to support them on his salary. Every weekday, he goes directly from Trinity Springs Middle School to drive a forklift at Floor and D├ęcor. He works until 11 every night, then gets up and starts all over again. Does this look like “A Plan,” either on the state or federal level?
We’ve been working with public school teachers for 10 years; every spring, we see many of the best teachers leave the profession. They’re mowed down by the long hours, low pay, the lack of support and respect.

These facts make me feel very sad. I want to be able to support my family, and I also want to make a difference in the lives of young people through education. But at the current rate of things, it doesn't seem like that is very possible without extreme sacrifice on the part of my whole family. I must say, I can totally see and understand why many young teachers with Teach For America or not who do amazing things in their classroom decide to leave teaching. Can you blame them for wanting to support a family and eventually buy a house?

Bottom line: "A poll of 900 top-tier American college students found that 68 percent would consider teaching if salaries started at $65,000 and rose to a minimum of $150,000. Could we do this? If we’re committed to “winning the future,” we should."

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