Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan: Pay ‘Great’ Teachers $150k
My post to the comments section:
From the Wall Street Journal (online article, June 25, 2011): "...American primary-school educators spend 1,913 working in a year. According to data from the comparable year in a Labor Department survey, an average full-time employee works 1,932 hours a year spread out over 48 weeks (excluding two weeks vacation and federal holidays)." That's awfully close, folks. Here's the kicker: teachers work the same number of hours in approximately 37 weeks. And you complain about our summers and holidays. We don't get paid for that time. We get paid for the hours that we work--our paycheck is simply spread out over 12 months. Speaking of pay...
In this Texas city, I make $42,668. With the federal, state, and district budget cuts, I did not receive a raise this year, but health insurance increased. For my family of 4, I pay around $1,000/month for insurance. Do the math. Naturally, I would welcome more money. Knowing how much time I spend on my students, I'm quite certain that I've earned it.
I know, I know, I signed up for this job. I wanted to teach children. Teaching is an essential profession and I'm a proud, thankful, joyful member of it. It's filled with dedicated, brilliant, creative, kind, loving people. (Are there poor examples of teachers? Irrelevant. Every profession has poor examples. What an ignorant reason to speak negatively of all teachers.)
In those countries who are tops in education (Finland, for example), they first made significant changes to the system and their philosophy. For one, they absolutely engineered higher prestige for teachers. Through improved college preparation, higher salaries, and greater freedom, teachers, schools, and children found success. Period. Now, I think that teachers should earn more money--it's a means to improve prestige. I think other things need to happen, also. The American education system needs a renovation. Rather than adding a new coat of paint on the old coat of paint on the old coat of paint on the old coat of paint, we need to sand it to the wood and start over. This is beyond new tests, incentive pay, charter schools, or vouchers--those are just new paint.
Presently, American teachers are handicapped by unrealistic laws, arbitrary policies, misguided standardized tests, reduced budgets, and the relentless hounding and doubt from parents and the public. In Finland, Japan, Korea, and other countries with impressive education systems, they don't deal with any of that. Teachers are respected, well-paid, well-educated, and allowed the freedom to collaborate and continue their education. In the United States, decisions are made by politicians, school boards, administrators, parents, and the public. None of whom are in the classrooms with the students! As long as that's true, our education system will never improve. That's why it's easy for you to complain, point fingers, and disparage.
I love teaching. I spend my days with kids who look up to me. It's full of challenge and pride and adoration. And my impact is long-lasting. I simply want more for my students and country. For that to happen, people need to get out of my classroom. You can keep talking about money, but you've completely missed the point. That's okay--it's easy to do when you're not spending your days with a class full of children.