I so agree with you, and now facing my husband's retirement from teaching and looking for a new job myself, I am seeing up close what it means to try to make ends meet. Fortunately, my child is through college, and we have saved for retirement (we are independent school teachers), but funding health care, a mortgage, a car payment, and those other necessities really adds up.
However, the "we want teachers to get rich" nonsense is a lie used to mechanize, rationalize and deprofessionalize - in other words, but unions and destroy more solid middle class jobs. All the while, we'll drive the costs of public education ever lower towards a goal of zero and destroy one of our last democratic institutions.
The entrepreneurial utopia these folks speak is based in a zero-sum view of the world, complete with high-risk, high-stakes and most "entrepreneurs" failing.
They refuse to pay teachers a living wage and benefits or properly fund classroom materials. Where will the six-figure salaries they promise for "magic" teachers come from?
All is not hopeless. Read http://amzn.to/t2tvnX and see what is possible if we truly respect children and honor teaching.
I enjoyed your blog. I agree that we shouldn't want to "be rich" as a teacher. I know a lot of people these days that laugh at me when I tell them I am a teacher. They ask "Why?" well...I know as many other teacher's know we don't do it for the money we do it for the kids. We want to make a difference if we can and grow from our experiences. I hope that we get the credit for where credit is due but not in the monetary sense. More than anything I enjoy a compliment or two to get me to stay positive in such a negative setting at times. When we have to worry as you say for our economical security that what's scares me.
As I think about retirement after many years in public ed, I realize that I simply can't afford to do so, especially now that my Governor has made it impossible for me to collect my pension until I am 62. The economic insecurities are part of the realities most face, save that 1% and perhaps a few others.
The HR director's comment reminds me of how scale has become blown out and how the answer to any question is increase one's wealth. Both are foolish, but these are the mythologies we need to expose.
Great post Chris. I saw the quote this morning but I think my brain intentionally suppressed the memory. I am so glad that you and others are not only opposed to this notion, but I particularly appreciate your notation that the only war that our government is currently winning - anywhere - is the war on the middle class. It is 100% impossible that any classroom teacher in the current system entered into the profession to "get rich," at least not in material terms anyway. All of us in this field who treasure what we do can see the falsehood at immediate glance. I just hope that all of those outside the field of education can - and will - see the same.
And I am REALLY concerned that if the issues that you addressed are NOT remedied, then we will force otherwise successful and well-intentioned educators to remain in their jobs beyond the point that they are still successful. While others bemoan the fact that educators retire at a younger age than other professions, I still think that the reasons for that are viable and raising retirement ages for educators will do more harm than any positives gained from their various "reforms" - if there are even any positives to begin with.
Very thoughtful post and I would definitely agree that teaching, as is any other worthy profession, is pursued with pure intent-not to get rich. However, a thought that sits in the back of my head is that as we continue to become more of knowledge-based global society doesn't the knowledge that teachers have become more valuable? Or-are we becoming an open sourced society where knowledge is shared with all at no costs (i.e. MIT). Your post really makes me wonder (think!)-Thanks!
I haven't researched the Washington system enough to know how competitive it is or if ALL teachers can aspire to these kind of "performance rewards." But if it is strongly competitive, allowing only a certain percentage to "win," then that system will further erode any kind of long term meaningful gains because it almost necessitates eliminating collaboration of best practices among teachers. How do educated people not foresee that kind of damage?! And misunderstand committed educators' motivations? Thanks for the insights, everyone!
What I think people don't realize is that most teachers would be happy to make a wage that allows them to have, for lack of a better term, "The American Dream" (a house, a car, a family), but what they really crave is to be treated as professionals, to be included in the decision-making processes of a school, to be freed up for their own learning & collaboration with their peers, and to have just enough responsibility that they are both an integral part of their school and their family.
I find it really discouraging to see that someone w/a high school diploma can make more than I do with a Masters degree and 3 certifications because of the job sector they work in, but I know that I wouldn't be happy anywhere else (unless, of course, Mythbusters has an opening).
What I remember most about the movie Born on the Fourth of July, about the Vietnam Vet later played by Tom Cruise,w was pretty silly: his family lived in a private home in a nice suburb, his wife was a stay-at-home Mom, they raised two boys....and what did he do for a living? He managed the produce department of a local grocery store! How is that possible??
Yes, teachers today should definitely be able to live as well as a grocery story clerk did in the '60s!
I know that teaching in a rich profession of the heart. It is not a profession anyone goes into thinking that they will be rich at the end of the school year. It is a profession that a person goes into knowing that they will be able to make ends meet if they stay with in their means.
I feel that most teachers know this and are willing to look past the riches and be happy with a secure future through hard work.
Most, if not all, of the teachers I know became teachers to make a difference in others' lives. To employ a profit motive prostitutes educators. It is interesting that some say the US is skidding internationally in education yet the officials do nothing to mirror those countries that are succeeding. These officials only make moves to enrich their corporate friends.
I taught in a well-paying suburban district outside DC for 5 years. I was living paycheck to paycheck. Student loans and high rent was the majority of my spending. One of the many reasons I became an international school teacher was because there was an opportunity to actually save money. But the main reason I became an international school teacher is because I felt I could directly impact my curriculum and school outside of the contraints of NCLB. I never became a teacher to make money, but it is nice not to worry about when payday is. And it is even nicer to feel empowered and trusted to do my job.
As a 17 year employee of a Career and Technical school, I recall many of my fellow teachers taking a large cut in salary to teach. Many had been business owners or shop employees and entered education through alternate route. Now as these teachers near retirement, their benefits are being questioned. No one questioned the cut in pay that they were taking to share thier passion and knowledge. It concerns me that the professionalism related to the teaching profession has been questioned.
As an educator in a Career and Technical district, my concern lies with the lack of understanding that some teachers took a loss of pay to enter the profession. Some instructors were business owners or shop stewards and entered education at a fraction of the salary. Nearing retirement, this must be remembered.
I am a second career teacher, and I am totally inspired by this blog post. My first career was as a United Methodist pastor, and I see some distinct parallels between what is happening with this "get rich" mentality in the education field, and what I see happening in my church. I was so inspired by this post, that I have quoted it in my own blog post. Please see my thoughts here.