How expensive are good teachers?

I got in a fun discussion with some of the school techs across the State today.  A tech job opened up at one of the big school districts (5000+ K-12).  The salary is $80,000.  I commented that seems excessive considering highest teacher salary for the district was $10,000 lower.  One of the smarter techs pointed out the 9 month versus 12 month detail.  OK, so $80,000 is in the neighborhood if a senior teacher was paid for 12 months.  I can let that go.  The argument that came up that did not make sense was that a tech for this position has to be highly qualified and that to attract personnel of this caliber requires a good salary.  With very little thought that implies teachers do not need to be highly qualified or high salaries are not needed to attract good teachers?   Something wrong there.

Could this be one of the issues with US education in that it is more important to attract good administration personnel than to attract good teachers?  In my mind it is important that both be good to ensure a good school.


4 Responses to “How expensive are good teachers?”

  1. Geekymom Says:

    I think the argument is the tech person has other options while teachers can only teach. There’s less competition for the teacher position than for the tech job.

  2. Michael S. Kirkpatrick Says:

    “Could this be one of the issues with US education…?” YES! Shockingly few people (except for teachers, of course) understand what teaching actually is. I describe their perception as “tutoring at scale.” All you have to do as a teacher is stand up at the front of the room and explain things. Simple enough. They’ve never heard of Bloom’s taxonomy, formative assessment, etc. In short, they see teaching as a rudimentary job, not a profession.

    That’s why there are so many flawed initiatives like Teach for America. Being a subject matter expert does NOT equate to being an expert at teaching the subject. Until this perception is changed, teacher salaries will remain lower than that of entry-level practitioners in the field. Consequently, there is a continued disincentive for talented and passionate individuals to become teachers.

  3. Mike Zamansky (@zamansky) Says:

    I describe teaching as (bearing in mind that I’m a high school teacher):

    You give 5 unique performances a day to a hostile, yet captive audience and the curtain goes up promptly for each performance whether you’re ready or not – and each day the show changes.

    Of course, I don’t really mean hostile, but even the most dedicated of students don’t want to be there all the time and of course it’s not a one direction performance but it captures part of the spirit.

    On the pay side, I think it’s only an issue in that we’re not payed enough to raise a family in the communities in which we live and teach – the traditional plight of the disappearing middle and working classes.

    More important is the lack of respect, the ridiculous work loads and unrealistic expectations — I worked in tech prior to becoming a teacher – tech is much easier — let’s see them plan five lessons and then overnight grade 150 homeworks and all the other things we do.

  4. gflint Says:

    The respect thing is very interesting. I have spent some as a tourist in Europe. As soon as people find out I am a teacher I become “Sir” or “Doctor” even though I do not have the Dr. degree. Different traditions.

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