Oooooooohh! Do you want to know how to get my blood boiling in 2.5 seconds? Brace yourselves.
Apparently, it has to do with an article my friend Dave
found in the New York Times about some Long Island teachers who are making over $100,000 a year. I thought, "Wow! That's great! Good for them!" and I started reading the article. All was well until I came across this bit: (emphasis mine)
Still, critics of the [$100,000] salaries as well as those who consider them necessary
agree that the image of teaching as an altruistic, low-paid occupation is no longer the case in the suburbs. A family with two public school teachers can
earn enough to put it in the top 4 percent of families on Long Island.
So, I'm not altruistic if I make over a certain amount? Where's the change in the State salary scale that changes me from an altruistic educator to a materialistic, shallow gold-digger? Apparently there's a cap on the price of my pearls of wisdom. Is there a similar cap on the other "altruistic" professions, like, say Doctors? 'Fraid not.
There are those that will argue that Doctors have more education, spend long hours at the hospital, and have the power to diagnose and cure diseases. So, for this, they get to keep the "altruist" label and
be paid a boatload of cash. Let me see, I've got 2 degrees (BA, MA), six years of education, 13 years of teaching experience (ranging from kindergarten to university - certainly equivalent to an internship and residency), and can diagnose ADD/ADHD with startling accuracy. Can that Doctor create and deliver a lesson taking into consideration the IEPs and 504s of different students, differentiate his/her instruction, and implement varied teaching strategies to reach all learners, while keeping it engaging and interesting and all in a foreign language?
I didn't think so. So, can I make the same amount of money as that doctor and still be altruistic?
Probably not, in the eyes of society. The problem, in my opinion, lies with the "perception" of teachers and teaching, as it always has. What got my blood to boil was this bit (emphasis mine):
"We're trying to convince people that our teachers and teachers' union and
administrators do not have the children's interest at heart," said Richard
Graham, a member of the anti-tax group. "The people who couldn't do the
engineering, and anything else that required some brain
power, became teachers, and they now have $100,000 salaries."
Those that can't do, teach, eh? I'd just laugh it off, but this is sooo bloody typical of what I hear whenever I'm asked what I do for a living. It only gets worse when I tell them I teach French. People are amazed that a French Teacher can speak fluent French, as if I study up the night before to stay just ahead of the kids. So, I and the rest of my colleagues are short on brain power, Mr. Graham? Here's a bit of brain power for you, from this French teacher: vas te faire foutre, sale espece de cretin chiant!
[insert typical teacher muttering here, e.g., I'd love for him to spend a day/week/month/hour in my classroom and see what salary he thinks I deserve. More than what I make now, that's for sure...]
I suppose that teachers will never enjoy a salary commensurate with other professions that have the same degree of education and experience.
Now I don't mean to disparage Doctors, here. I would be no better than Mr. Graham. Plus, I love Doctors - they keep me healthy. I should also say that there are other "low paid altruistic" professions - Social Workers, Paramedics, and Clergy, to name a few - that would deserve a hefty raise in salary. It couldn't hurt. These people serve the masses for relatively little monetary gain. And the money isn't really the issue. It's the respect. My problem is that Mr. Graham implied that it's ok to pay teachers peanuts because it's what our job is worth. I think Mr. Graham should homeschool.
You know, I don't need
$100,000 to enjoy what I do. I sure wouldn't turn it down, though.