Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Cream Does Not Always Rise to the Top

The best teachers I know, for some reason, are either struggling to stay in teaching or have already left to make money in real estate, law, or to live off of a lucky retirement.

The system makes it difficult to stay in teaching. The money is bad and getting worse; benefits are going extinct; class sizes and required duties keep climbing. The profession works only for the healthiest, most dedicated, idealistic, and head-strong.

And the administrative bloat siphons off already scarce funding. According to Robert Reich, administrative numbers and salaries keep increasing while teachers get less and less. Increases in administrative money match decreases in funding to teachers in the form of stagnant wages, job security, benefits, and class size. Here's a link to an article:

What baffles me is how some who play the bureaucracy game rise to titles and salaries that seem, to me, out of whack with actual work done for students.

Schools have begun to mirror corporate pay structures where the muckity-muck CEOs rake in 20, 30, 40 or more times what the rank and file bring in.

And, I can't tell why it is that they deserve it. Advocacy to state legislators seems very ineffective if that is part of what they are supposed to be doing. States like Arizona swing cleavers to the educational allocation in state budgets.

I know that the root of the this problem is political, of getting voters to demand support for education, but it also strikes me that priorities within education need some rethinking. Bureaucracies tend to become self-interested, self preserving, and see their work as more important than that of the teachers they represent.

I am pretty dense about such things, I admit, but why does an administrator at the UA, who gets every seventh year off for a sabbatical, make four, five, six times more than an experienced teacher who gets little support for professional development (no time off to write), with excellent course evaluations, a real track record of mentoring young teachers (helping them get jobs), years of curriculum innovation, hundreds or thousands of students, and real contact with what students are supposed to be learning?

These teachers have year-to-year or semester-to-semester contracts, decreasing health benefits, little material support, and, often live paycheck to paycheck.

I guess it's just some kind of joke that I continue not to get.

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