Aug 17, 2003 Miscellaneous

Education in America

I was just reading slashdot (a bastion of cough insightful, useful comments, as everyone is, no doubt, aware), and I was absolutely shocked to discover a comment that actually made sense.

“Teaching children is a low-paying occupation, and you get two kinds of people:

1) Those who aren’t competent to do anything else (“those who can, do…”)

2) Those who have a calling to teach and are willing to accept substandard pay to do it.

Teachers in category one mainly teach by rote, following a rigid lesson plan, so a bright student who thinks and reads ahead is a problem. Of course, teachers in category 2 are delighted by this kind of challenge.

School administrators, of course, tend to be mostly in category one, since they don’t actually teach. And they tend to favor teachers in category one, because they don’t make waves. Basically the same mentality that leads them to favor a single computing platform… “

(in-context link)

it’s just really nice to see that there is, on occasion, someone who actually understands that some teachers really do love teaching kids, that they do it because they’re passionate about it, and that they get totally screwed by the system.

just so this makes more sense, both of my parents are public school teachers. It pisses me off that I just turned 21 (July 4), and I make $3000 less than my mom, who has been a public school teacher for about 16 years now. There is absolutely no reason why a person in what is arguably one of the most important occupations in the world makes about as much money as her fresh-out-of-college son. It’s just ridiculous that we value teachers’ contributions so poorly.

Of course, there is the argument that most teachers are incompetent. I can’t argue with this. There are a lot of teachers who are. Of course, if teaching paid well there would be more competition for positions, which would, in theory, increase the quality of educators in the system. This would not be an overnight panacea sort-of-thing, though. There are still too many terrible teachers who have gotten tenure, and are impossible to throw out. Nevertheless, it would still be a start. Contrary to most Americans’ expectations, there is no such thing as a quick fix. Change tends to be gradual. There really isn’t any way around this, so it behooves us to start fixing things sooner rather than later.