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'Underpaid' Teachers, 'Overpaid" Businessmen

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Many years ago, a local talk-show radio host, Mark Scott, did a broadcast in which part of it addressed "Why are teachers underpaid?"

I do not have a transcript of the show, nor do I recall many of the items touched upon, but the summary essential stated: "Teachers get paid the least (among comparable other careers requiring similar amounts of education) because they do the most damage."

Damage in this case was delineated along the lines of 'conceptually crippling' our young.

Now I realize this is a blanket statement, and that there are notable exceptions out there, but when you read headlines over the weekend about an individual who calls 911 because the prices at the pump are higher than he thinks they ought to be, or about inner-city conflicts over designer clothing, or conflict resolution by shooting the individual who borrowed an outfit without asking, grant you, it is not strictly the teachers fault. Still, within the public schools, providing reasoning skills is not a K-12 curriculum. I vaguely recall from the late '60 early '70's the topic of philosophy coming up in a class. It was too early in my life to really get into it, and so little about it was covered that I can only remember the word was mentioned.

This morning I awoke before the alarm went off. While I was getting ready, a thought popped into my head. 'Overpaid' Businessmen.

Well, given the validity the underpaid teacher show left me with (again, minus many details) the overpaid businessman engaged a couple of gears.

Risk vs. Reward.

The businessman, in addition to the natural market risks that are out there, have the addition of the media being against them.

The media in turn, generates those who will call 911, because he has been led to believe by the same, that this is an affront to him in some vague way.

The judicial system, with an arsenal of ambiguous laws from anti-monopoly, price-gouging and others may be called one day to determine his fate.

Just to name a few here.

If the teacher is underpaid for turning out sub-standard product, the businessman is overpaid for the additional risks taken, over and above the natural chance to fail that nature offers him.

After the businessman thought popped into my head, the comparison to the vague recollections from the teacher show came to mind.

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  • 3 months later...

I've heard similar arguments (teachers vs. insert-various-professions) and it drives me mad. The reality is that it doesn't take much to be a teacher. Depending on your state, you need a Bachelor's degree and a teaching certification (sometimes not even that). In the last state I lived in, any Bachelor's would be accepted. On the other hand, in order to be a successful business-person, you need to be successful in business. Which one is harder?

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I've heard similar arguments (teachers vs. insert-various-professions) and it drives me mad. The reality is that it doesn't take much to be a teacher. Depending on your state, you need a Bachelor's degree and a teaching certification (sometimes not even that). In the last state I lived in, any Bachelor's would be accepted. On the other hand, in order to be a successful business-person, you need to be successful in business. Which one is harder?

Mastering a discipline, breaking its conceptual hierarchy down and explaining it, step by step, in a way appropriate to the ability levels present in a classroom, while all the time ensuring that students are not only developing content knowledge but also reasoning skills, are all elements of teaching. Perhaps this doesn't take much more than a piece of paper: no real mental rigor or discipline, no experience, no developed comfort with interactions with children or adolescents, no strength in communication, no constant battle to evaluate fairly and objectively, no weight on your shoulders of having the minds of tomorrow placed in your hands.

As a future teacher, I'll ask you not to equate the ignorant thug-priests who do naught more than grunt at children about global warming and the evils of businessmen all day with those few of us who actually do give a damn.

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Mastering a discipline, breaking its conceptual hierarchy down and explaining it, step by step, in a way appropriate to the ability levels present in a classroom, while all the time ensuring that students are not only developing content knowledge but also reasoning skills, are all elements of teaching. Perhaps this doesn't take much more than a piece of paper: no real mental rigor or discipline, no experience, no developed comfort with interactions with children or adolescents, no strength in communication, no constant battle to evaluate fairly and objectively, no weight on your shoulders of having the minds of tomorrow placed in your hands.

As a future teacher, I'll ask you not to equate the ignorant thug-priests who do naught more than grunt at children about global warming and the evils of businessmen all day with those few of us who actually do give a damn.

I'm going to second this. Being a GOOD teacher is exceptionally hard. The problem is that so many are not good. Is it easy to be a crappy teacher? Probably, just as it is easy to slack at anything else. To put real effort into teaching students, especially when you know most of them don't care and are only in it for a grade, if that even, takes all one's integrity and personal resources.

I honestly think good teachers don't get paid enough but that bad teachers are too hard to get rid of.

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Indeed.

I'll disagree with one thing themadkat said: "Is it easy to be a crappy teacher? Probably, just as it is easy to be slack at anything else." I'd say it's _easier_ to be a crappier teacher than, say, a crappy programmer, because no one notices the effect of crappy teachers for years and unions cover for them even when it becomes painfully obvious. A crappy coder will be found out quickly (though in this day and age it can be hard to fire them, too, what with all the costs of firing people). I actually support efforts to check on results of teaching, in fact. I'd rather have teachers incentivized to teach to a test than not incentivized to teach at all. It frustrates good teachers, sure, but there aren't that many of them. Ideally there'd be better ways of testing for "teacher does a good job" but I'll be damned if I can figure out what they are.

One disadvantage of the way things are done now in education is that a teacher--good or bad--can only provide their service to 20-30 students at a time and in fact the unions insist on trying to _reduce_ this number. (The whining about class sizes over about 20 is incessant. 25-30 was typical when I was in elementary school and students on average tended to learn more. So I tend not to "buy" it when people try to claim that class sizes are a problem.) Anyhow if there were some way to have a good teacher teach thousands of students (and maybe leave grading papers up to people of less skill), I bet we'd see better results. Also that good teacher would get paid probably 20 times more for teaching 50 times more students and be worth every penny. And we'd hear less whining about how much sports stars make versus teachers. (The reason for the differential is NOT that we value sports more than education, but that one sports star can entertain thousands while a teacher can teach only a few dozen.)

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Just imagine how much a really good teacher could get paid in a free market... That is the essential that is missing, it would not only improve the quality of teaching overall but the crappy ones would probably not be permitted (by the market) to survive.

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