Soapbox: Higher Pay for Teachers

I'm going to get off of the saddle for today, and stand on my soap box. Prerequisite reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/07/nyregion/07charter.html.

Teaching is hard work. I don't think enough people realize quite how difficult it is to teach in a school, a "production environment". Consider: the teacher's class day runs from 8am to 4pm. In that time, the teacher gets one 30-minute lunch break, and spends a total of about 4 hours standing and 5 hours talking. Every day must be planned, in advance. There is no room for running late, and little tolerance for error.

I commend some of my own hardworking teachers: Emily Moore, Alphonse Scotti, Holly Ojalvo, Nelda Latham, David Greenfield, Linda Holmes, and Daniel Jaye are just a few of the hardworking professionals who have served as my teachers through the years. (I would consider outstanding professors, such as Steve Leeb and Brendan Foley, in a parallel but separate category: already motivated individuals pursuing their own work who value sharing their work.)

I think the level of difficulty of a teaching job is on the level with that of a job in system administration. The deadlines, demands, and required energy levels are about the same. Both stem from a desire, however unrational it may be, to help another individual succeed.

There are too many examples of bad teaching in this world. In 7th grade, I had a science teacher who knew substantially less about the alkali metals than I did. In 11th grade, I had a history teacher who literally sat in her chair reading a book for every class session.

Jane and I have certainly considered going into teaching. If the conditions were right - good pay, warm weather, summers off - I think I could be convinced to become a math or computer science teacher, and moonlight as a cycling coach.