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My spouse both leads and manages ~24 direct reports, each of which require near continuous instruction, supervision, mentoring and encouragement. Her role demands an advanced degree with on-going education and certification requirements; exhaustive planning; an endless well of optimism; extensive individualized communication with third-party stake-holders; detailed performance accounting and reporting to stake-holders and management; frequent conflict resolution; incredible time and resources management; quick adaption to unexpected situations; acute safety awareness; and to operate in a highly-political environment with severe budget constraints.

She's a nationally board-certified kindergarten teacher in a public school.

This gave me a laugh. Very well written. And, good on your spouse for doing what she does. I was fortunate to have an excellent kindergarten teacher, and still think of her from time to time.

You missed the part where she's criminally underpaid for the work she does.

That depends heavily on the location (i.e. school district). Last time I looked at the school district budgets, school teachers where I live make, on average over $100k/yr plus health insurance and a sweet pension plan. The next town over, I think they make half that.

If you live in a school district with taxes high enough to pay that to teachers. They are still possibly underpaid.

Where is that?

I live in a state where they pay is pretty decent starting around $50k a year (they should be making more, but still not a bad start). Also the state pays for pretty much all of your Masters degree. Their health insurance is top notch and their pension is solid. Lots of states really don’t care for public education.

But she gets her summers off! /s

It's crazy how underpaid teachers are.

Tenured positions, strong unions, pensions, benefits the average blue collared worker can dream of, and no accountability or pressures to ensure students make their marks. I can support raises once merit pay is instituted and they start doing something about the bad teachers, of which young me would say is the majority.

Tenured? We are talking kindergarten here. Also, are you seriously comparing an advanced-degree career to blue-collar workers?

How is it you'd institute a merit system? By the volume-of-students-per-hour, or what, exactly? The least complaining parents? Test scores that depend on parental involvement to be any good? How are disinterested or absentee parents or those parents who have it in for teachers accounted for in such a system?

>Also, are you seriously comparing an advanced-degree career to blue-collar workers?

Like capital class could tell the difference

The teachers union where I am is strong, but it doesn't preclude the administration from playing tricks similar to the exactly 39-hour "part time" employee. Specifically, the teachers get "fired" on the last day of the school year, and turn hired back in the fall, in some sort of adminstration-union rule avoiding shell game.

It's a wonder anyone wants to do the job at all, knowing all this in advance. I almost became a teacher once. Figured all the abuse would be a degrading waste of my efforts.

Maybe not everyone's motivated by money?

Yea - but maybe for such an important role for society we can actually put up the cash to make it a worthwhile career choice. I've heard the "we don't want teachers who are only in it for the cash" line enough that I want to puke. If you paid enough to attract the leeches legitimate teachers would get them sacked right quick.

> maybe for such an important role for society we can actually put up the cash to make it a worthwhile career choice

The point was what makes it worthwhile isn't cash.

Cool. But people need to eat and our society (at least in the US) is completely run via cash - you can appeal to higher ideals all you want, but if you're starving out teachers you're going to lose a lot of the good ones that can go into other fields of education and communication.

I think a lot of teachers do value the experience of teaching enough that they'll stick with it through thick and thin - but a lot of folks never even consider teaching due to just how poor the wages are.

It's not just about money. Ultimately, it's about respect. Considering the clearing price in a free market is good and all, but you have to consider there's a buyer representing real people, who determines the working condition of this group. And also a seller whose life will be made easier and more dignified if they're properly paid, which will in turn attract better and less desperate teachers.

When I say paid, I obviously also mean in intangible ways, such as having enough time to go to the toilet between classes. Or being insulated from being yelled at by parents and meekly saying sorry for telling off their particularly concentration-destroying kid.

If they were entirely not motivated by money, we could just have them do it for free. I think clearly teachers expect at least a little money, and perhaps many potential teachers would expect even more.

I think if we removed the need to earn money to get a decent living, we would have a lot of people teaching for free.

Most people are not motivated by money, they reluctantly accept that they need to earn a living, but it is not a big driver per se in most people I know.

In a lot of cases, they don't want to do the job. There are teacher shortages in a lot of the United States, especially in states that are infamous for mistreating teachers, like Texas.

There is no teacher shortage. There is a shortage of people willing to teach for peanuts.

My son’s kindergarten teacher (at a public school in suburban Chicago) makes $76,000 per year. He has 16 classmates and it’s an all-day program.

Not in Canada

That really surprised me when I moved up here - suddenly I lost a whole class of jokes about how underpaid teacher are. It shows too, you can look at things like IP creation (comedians, musicians, writers, performers) and even vaccination rates to see the benefits investing in education can get you.

Sorry to shit on your sacred cow, but you mean overpaid. For babysitting.

The education children get in public schools is abysmal.

Good teachers that actually educate are exceedingly rare.

The education requirements for teachers is a sick joke. If you get a master's degree in underwater basket weaving, have a tolerance for noise, you join a teacher's union, work 9 months out of the year, get weeks of holidays, get virtue by association, a retirement, and are basically employed for life. Unfireable.

The reason teachers aren't paid more is because what they do isn't worth paying them more.

Some of the smarter ones move to private schools, but more of the good ones burn out and either leave, or stop giving a shit. Formalized regurgitation and pavlovian schedule training prepares kids for 9 to 5 bullshit. Barely. The rest is hit and miss on a garbled curriculum of mostly irrelevant filler and fluff.

You can't continue inflicting the bullshit teachers on the good ones, or on the kids. Unions have to end for certain classes of employment, but especially teaching. A vast majority of teachers need to be canned and kicked to the curb.

Kids deserve better, and that starts with honestly addressing the problem in the classroom.

Gee, I'll bet you were a peach to teach.

Let's just fire all the teachers and see if the next batch of applicants do any better.

I'm a software engineer and I'll happily admit that I'm grossly overpaid for the contribution to society I provide.

I'm curious what you think teachers should be paid for trying to educate our future.

There's a market that works on software engineers. Ability, work ethic, and quality of output plays a significant part in who gets hired and fired. There are no mechanisms by which bad teachers are removed, as long as they check the boxes for attendance, not being visibly intoxicated, etc. The profession is riddled with incompetents and bad actors.

Actual good teachers are rare.

Simply being able to fire the bad ones would improve things immeasurably, but for some reason people put all teachers on pedestals. It's grotesque. Give PTAs hire/ fire powers or better yet, give the public a vote, weighted by testing scores or some performance metrics. Union ride or die is a garbage way to do things.

Treating teachers like a special caste of unimpeachable holy people is nonsense.

> Give PTAs hire/ fire powers or better yet, give the public a vote,

They are already good at driving good teachers out of the profession without a formal direct personnel role, giving them more power would make things worse.

Teachers can be fired for poor performance. It is just rare, because proving poor performance is dubious in education. Good teachers want bad teachers out. There just isn’t a motivating force for the supervisor to do it unless the teacher is truly a harm to the kids.

Everything going on in education over the past 20 years has been to add that overarching, cross school performance metric to measure teachers against each other. The problem is:

1. How do you measure performance? Tests. What will any educator or student tell you? Ends up test performance doesn’t really correlate much to the quality of the teacher. What it does correlate well to is income of the student’s parents. You teach in a school that serves low-income families? You’re fired. Also tests don’t factor that some students are special needs. You have a lot of special needs students in your class one year? Sorry. You’re fired.

2. No one could seem to find the money to incentivize good performance of teachers. Just fire poor performers based on dubious criteria. Not exactly motivating.

3. Outside of test scores, which are a bad representation of teacher quality and easily manipulated, there isn’t a driving force to fire teachers.

Your comments may be true some places but are broadly generalized. The states I’ve lived in have had great public school systems. They pay their teachers well and have great pensions and benefits. Where I grew up the administration did a terrible job managing funds but our teachers were great and eventually the state stepped in and got things running better. Problem is there are just some places that don’t give a shit about public education and places that have a big push to privatize it, and that sure as shit doesn’t always mean better. Just means our tax dollars are going to some company instead of straight to schools.

Can’t fire them or choose who to hire either. At least they are not working on 24 different work streams.

I'm sure I could also make my job sound extremely impressive.

I don't understand why everyone believes teachers are so undervalued. On average, I don't think teachers provide that much value.

My pet peeve is teachers teaching children maths. How can you teach something that you don't understand?

There are plenty people who are qualified for teaching children math. But it would be a disservice for them and their family to accept a low wage teaching job when they can work for $400k+ elsewhere.

Your argument is like hiring only minimum wage workers to build rockets, then complain that on average they don't provide that much value and can't solve integrals in their heads.

If we want better teachers, the solution is not surprising: pay more.

Just increase the numbers on the paychecks and the current bad teachers would all go away and be replaced by different, better teachers? Somehow, I doubt that.

I don't think you need someone amazing at maths to teach kids. In fact that would probably be detrimental for most kids.

I don't say that teachers don't provide much value because they're useless, but because they are usually very generalized and most kids don't seem be to that interested in learning.

Even if you fix problem #1, you haven't fixed the arguably bigger problem. I also don't think that significantly increasing the quality of teachers would change much for most kids.

Well, it is very common in situations like this to have 2 to 4 assistants, and I can't believe without them it would be possible to avoid hard conflicts and even violence on regular basis.

She has no assistants and never has (I just asked her). Occasionally a student teacher but not for years, now. Some students, such as ESL or special ed, are pulled out of class for about 30 minutes from 2–4 times a week but, the recent district policy is called "push in" where the specialist comes in to class to assist a particular student or two.

Where are you basing this on? In public schools in the US (at least in my hometown in Louisiana), schoolteachers don't get assistants of any sort. You get the occasional "student teacher," who is training to become a schoolteacher, but never more than one.

Faculty at colleges get teaching assistants, but their job is hardly to help with conflicts or prevent violence, their job is to help with instruction, grading, writing homework assignments, etc. When I was a teaching assistant, I myself tended to have 10-20 students in my section, and the class as a whole had close to a hundred people.

Growing up we had 60 instead of 24 students and 0 assistants and still no violence and less if none bad conflicts

Troll? Give some background info if this is to be taken seriously.

I'm not OP, but depending on where in the world you are, classrooms with 50+ students aren't that rare even today: https://www.economist.com/china/2018/09/13/anger-grows-in-ch...

I'm most familiar with China (I taught middle-school classrooms of 55-60 in Yunnan around 2010, and had some friends in Guangzhou teaching 75-80), but I assume there have been & are plenty of countries with similar situations.

Good perspective. I would've guessed when you get to numbers like that it would even be worth doing.

Apologies for not giving context, i am from india and yes it was very common to have classrooms with 55-60+ students and simply 1 teacher.

We are in a pretty well-funded district. None of our kindergarten classes have 2-4 assistants for a class of 24. Most have zero.

Can you let us know which public school system has 2-4 assistants in a 24-person kindergarten classroom so I can move there when I have children?

Each assistant is typically assigned to a single special needs kid.

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