This is a short, but powerful video posted on Scholastic Teachers the other day that I think is a good conversation starter to something that has been on my mind a lot lately....
So what do teachers make? If you are one to judge your success and failure on income, teaching is not your profession. I don't know a single teacher that went into education to make money. At the same time, it is frustrating to know that I have friends in the medical or engineering fields who will make more in their first year out of college than I will make halfway through my career. It is frustrating to watch the news on Labor Day and hear this statistic joked about by morning hosts. It is frustrating to hear my mentor teacher talk about problems with contract negotiations and how Cincinnati Public School teachers have not had a raise in SIX YEARS.
Despite all of this, the teaching profession is still considered to be one of the most trustworthy professions. People want reassurance that we will take good care of their children (and I know I for one, will); the nation as a whole expects us to prepare our future professionals we are expected to teach children how to share, work as a team, and become independent. We teach children to read, write, spell, compute, analyze, research, problem solve, and analyze. We nurture, set guidelines and goals, and work to keep our children safe and healthy. This is the education that if I was a parent I would want for my children. This is the education I hope to give every child. I believe that this is the education our society values. My concern is that the value of education, as with many other necessary and trustworthy professions (social workers immediately come to mind), in a society dependent on capitalism, does not show. We want the best for our children, but we aren't willing to pay for it? This is not even just about salary. It is the idea that schools and classrooms often have to operate below their potential because the resources they need are not available to them. (This is what makes places like Crayons 2 Computers so great!)
Maybe this is something that makes teachers (and people in similar professions) successful. We care more about the welfare of children and sustaining a successful community than we do about making money. We perceive success away from the constraints of money and property.
On a more personal note: I want to be a teacher.I choose to be a teacher. It is more important to me to do something that makes me happy, that can make an impact in so many lives, than make a lot of money (and I really think I could do well in a higher paying profession if I really wanted to). At the same time, I have experienced the difference between a comfortable, middle class lifestyle and the fear, anxiety, and frustration of trying to support a family on limited or no income. It is hard trying to make a lot out of little to nothing and even harder to sacrifice necessities as an individual or as a family. Realizing that I am choosing to continue the latter for at least a few more years, if not the rest of my life is disheartening and terrifying. I guess it wouldn't be a goal or a dream without a sacrifice. Maybe it is possible to have both, but right now I don't have that answer. I will let you know when I find it.
Other links, sources of info, and topics mentioned:
http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2009/12/29/then-vs-now-how-prices-have-changed-since-1999/ (this shows how much things have changed in 11 years, the best I could do to show the sacrafices of CPS teachers who have gone without a raise for half of this time.
http://www.crayons2computers.org/ an organization trying to help make things right :)