The Rising Cost of Education - Are Your School's Teachers Worth Their Salaries?

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Last year's news headlines about Natalie Munroe brought about a multitude of discussions ranging from whether a teacher has the right to voice their frustrations to whether their frustrations are well-founded and therefore, justifiable. As stated in a previously posted article, I am more interested in my fellow Americans taking action to protect our rights to free speech and privacy where the employer-employee relationship is concerned. However, I've become very aware of the growing discord between parents of school aged children and the academics assigned with teaching them. How could I not become aware when the news is filled with teachers crying that their burdens are too great for the small pay they receive, and parents whining about the failure of those same teachers to turn their precious offspring into the geniuses of tomorrow?

The truth of the matter is that both sides are correct and both sides are dead wrong. What I've seen happening in our education system over the last forty-five years is simply an inevitable result of the cultural changes which have taken place in American society. Our society, as a whole, and as is more often the case than not, failed to look to the future and the implications those changes held. We failed to put together a plan to deal with the gaps and rifts caused by shifting parental responsibilities and needs, in connection with those of the teachers charged with successfully educating our young.

Prior to the 1960's, most families only had one income which was supplied by the man of the house. The little woman was charged with raising the offspring, maintaining the household cleanliness, and keeping order among the many schedules of the individuals living in that household. It was a full time job requiring round-the-clock administration. The time requirements for doing this job haven't changed, there's simply less time permitted due to other demands created by our changing culture.

As someone who began her educational career in the 1960's and then parented school age children in the 80's, 90's and 2000's, I lived the changes which took place on the educational level. From the perspective of a student and then a parent, it was a frustrating ordeal, one which should never have to be experienced by anyone, yet is now being experienced as a daily occurrence by parents and teachers everywhere.

As an elementary school student, I was introduced to a daily routine which began with the teacher taking the time to read a short motivational type story relating to our duty as students to learn and then pass on our discoveries to others. Some of these stories were of a religious bent, while others were simply about the importance of social etiquette and manners. When recesses were called in order to give young children an opportunity to expend pent up energy, the playground was filled with teachers who also took the opportunity to get some fresh air. While I know there were duty rosters listing which teachers were responsible for playground monitoring, I also know that these same teachers didn't limit their personal sense of responsibility to the posted list. I have many fond memories of teachers taking part in our games with us, being involved in our play as well as our academic endeavors, creating a personal bond which lasted beyond the current school year.

When the new school year arrived, my parents were not issued a long list of supplies they were to provide for the purpose of my being given an education. All items were supplied by the school district because my parents paid school taxes, which were formulated to cover every cost included in providing that education. In those days, taxes weren't solely for the purpose of building costs and the salaries of teachers and administrators.

I recall the departure of quite a few very good teachers in the mid-1970's. My fellow students and I arrived for the first day of the new school year, looking forward to taking classes from some of these departed teachers. We were told they had left for higher paying jobs which was the first time we were introduced to the financial problems of many teachers. While our young minds were able to understand the need for employment which would provide a decent livelihood, it didn't lessen the feeling that our heroes had deserted us.

A few years later, after I had graduated, I worked for a company who did income tax preparation for the paying public. The office was in my hometown, therefore, I had several occasions to become intimately involved with some of my past teachers' finances. I remember being appalled at the ridiculously low salaries they were paid. One teacher was only paid a little over $12,000 for a lifetime of dedication. Please keep in mind, this amount was the equivalent of making about $26,500 today.

If I compare the amount of work and dedication I personally observed during the years I was a student, to the years I was a parent to students, I have to say I've seen a serious decline in the standards. $12,000 in 1979 was not much for a person who spent all day teaching, all evening planning for the coming weeks, and preparing for the next day. It wasn't much for someone who had spent thirty-five years doing this work, year after year. It wasn't much for someone who took time to meet with parents in the evening to discuss a child's progress, or who attended all school related events in a show of support to the students participating in the activities.

While it wasn't much for a lifetime of work, and there was definitely a need for society to take action to bring salaries into alignment with the amount of work and dedication required of those professionals, it was not a reason to obliterate all duties necessary beyond the actual hours of a school's operation. Teachers in the 1970's physically spent a full 8 hours per day at the job site, followed by another 2-3 hours of paperwork in their off hours. Given the expected attendance at school related events during non-work hours, it's easy to see how the average teacher spent around 60 hours per week in activities related to earning their meager salaries. Even though teachers only worked about 40 weeks out of the year, the hourly rate would still only be roughly $5.00 per hour. Minimum wage in 1979 was about $3.35 per hour. Yes, there was a definite need to bring balance in pay to the work being performed.


Now, thirty years later when comparing the pay to the amount of work being performed, I am still seeing that lack of balance. This time, though, the element lacking in the measurements is the amount of work being performed for the pay expected, or rather demanded. Public school teacher's and administrator's salaries are considered public information. I did some research into salaries of teachers in various areas of our country. I found that all teacher's salaries are fairly comparable when considering the ratio of salary to cost of living for a given area, though there are a few exceptions.

Because Pennsylvania is my home state, I'll use the numbers from my home school district in my examples. The average starting salary for a new teacher fresh out of college is between $39,000 and $41,000 per year. The average amount of weeks worked out of 52 is about 44, with 36.5 hours per week of scheduled work. These numbers translate into $24.68 - $25.53 per hour. Even if a 60 hour work week is used to calculate the hourly wage, the pay would be $14.77 - $15.53 per hour. Based on the pay rates from 1979 (for a teacher with 25+ years), the equivalent would only be about $11.12 per hour for a 60 hour week. Incidentally, the difference between minimum wageand a teacher's pay was a 49% difference, whereas today, the average starting pay for a teacher is more than double the minimum wage.

I've used a 60 hour week comparison for the sole reason of keeping the comparisons complete, but I don't believe the majority of these teachers spend more than 45 hours doing teaching related work. All one needs do is take a look at the results of their collective performances. Once considered one of the top school districts showing high academic student performance, my district is now ranked at 395 out of 542. Another interesting fact about teachers and their salaries: it seems the states which pay the highest salaries in comparison to the cost of living, are also the states experiencing the highest rate of teachers strikes. Pennsylvania is ranked at #5 in comparison to other states, but according to the Associated Press, it's experienced more than half of all strikes since 2004. It would seem to me that more money certainly does not translate to a better learning experience. Throwing more money at teachers who don't perform isn't going to entice them to do a better job, it simply rewards them for poor performance.

I find it very difficult to feel pity for the “plight” of today's teachers. The amount of work being performed is nowhere near the amount being done by those of thirty years ago. My class room size was between 32 and 36 students per class, with one teacher and no such thing as an aide or assistant. Grading papers at home and planning for the upcoming days and weeks was a given. It was all a part of the job. The only “free” periods expected were during the time the students were in gym class or lunch, with supervisory duties of the lunchroom rotated amongst the teaching staff.

During the 1980's, the general public bought into the idea that teachers should be paid more. That was good considering the number of hours of dedication necessary to being a GOOD teacher. But then we began to agree to other demands, such as smaller class rooms. We allowed ourselves to be convinced that smaller classrooms would create an environment of more individualized teaching. We blindly believed that having fewer pupils would produce better performance from our teachers. In 1997 the average classroom size in this country was 25 students. By 2005 the number had dropped to 15.5, an amount less than half of the average size of 25 years prior.

We caved into demands for more taxpayer funded “free” periods to help curb the amount of take-home work a teacher might have to complete in their off the job personal time. We met demands for more and more aide in the form of teaching assistants. All these ridiculous demands have been met, over and over again, until the cost of publicly educating a student is more than some people earn in the same 44 week span.

Teachers reading this will likely be outraged by some of my remarks, because according to most teachers I've ever heard complaining, they are faced with the monumental task of teaching students who don't want to be taught. They are expected to turn these same students into top performers. They are expected to deal with the ungrateful, demanding parents of these same students. I've heard teachers complain that they are expected to teach their students manners and respect, which according to them, should be done at the home level. WHAT??? I've heard teachers remark about their disgruntlement over being expected to MOTIVATE students, claiming motivation isn't their job. WHAT????

Perhaps these attitudes of self-righteousness are a huge part of the problem. I'll agree that teaching begins at home, but where does anyone get off assuming that their classroom problems are a result of the parents? Perhaps the teacher is the problem, or the environment, or the lack of accountability the teaching staff demonstrates? Children are naturally selfish creatures geared toward relieving what they view to be their needs. It's up to the adults in their lives to model the way, and this includes all adults who are in a position to impact the child's understanding of the world around them.


Parents become parents by choice. We aren't given a handbook on raising a child. We aren't required to take four years of college level instruction before being permitted to conceive. We work our way through all the problems and joys associated with raising a child. Teachers also become teachers by choice. The difference is that teachers DO have an education geared to the job, as well as learning basic psychological facts about children and their maturity levels and coping skills.

We will both make mistakes because it is through mistakes that we learn. The experience of our lessons is what makes us valuable in respect to dealing with future situations of a like nature. It is the information we've learned that we pass on to the children in our care, in hopes that our lessons will help them to make better informed decisions. The reality of this is that some students will learn from our mistakes, while others will need to make them on their own. Maturity level plays a very big hand in how any one student will respond to lessons being taught.

When I hear a teacher say they it's not their job to teach proper behavior and deportment, I want to fire them on the spot. It certainly is a large part of the job. Our children spend more of their waking hours in the company of their teachers than with their parents and families. On average, a child will spend about one hour prior to leaving for school, getting dressed and fed. Most parents don't get home from work until after 5 pm, at which time household duties like cooking dinner and washing clothing takes up their time. The children may spend that same time doing their homework. Then it's time to eat, take showers, and perhaps go over their activities of the day with their parents. These events only happen if there are not extra curricular activities.

Parents can do their very best to instill values in their children, but when those children leave home to attend school, it's up to the teachers to continue building on those foundations. We've all had experiences with a child who behaves a certain way in our care, only to discover their behavior isn't the same in another's company. It's no different just because they are in school. Education officials need to stop assuming that a student's home life is solely responsible for bad behavior or poor performance, and take some responsibility for correcting the problems.

We all know that children learn what they live. Guess what? They live most of their youth in a scholastic setting. Perhaps watching their teachers take personal cell phone calls during classroom time has taught them not to respect the time set aside for learning. Perhaps listening to news reports of teacher strikes by those who demand more and more for less is teaching them to bargain and argue for unearned grades. Perhaps hearing about teachers crying over the amount of take-home work expected by the general public is what teaches them that they shouldn't be required to complete their homework either. After all, they attend school all day for the purpose of learning. Perhaps they too believe after hours should be reserved for their personal use. Perhaps they take their cues from the teachers around them who complain about being required to actually spend every moment teaching without enough “free” paid time. Perhaps they too feel the task of learning all this stuff is too taxing for them and the rewards aren't great enough for what is expected.

We all complain about the sense of entitlement today's kids are exhibiting. Where do you think they learned this behavior? Something else to be considered; this belief didn't just start yesterday. It began many years ago and has escalated to this degree. It is continuing to escalate because every year more and more children become of adult working age and begin to demand more for less.

One of the most infuriating remarks I've heard is that a teacher's job is important, therefore they should be paid more. First off, the matter of importance is one of relativity. If the job isn't performed well, then the importance is irrelevant. Second, does importance justify extortion? Teacher strikes are simply a form of legalized extortion. Publicly funded positions should never be open to work stoppages. We, the taxpayers, fund those positions. It is up to us to determine what we can afford to pay. In my job as a General Manager of a business, if I can't meet the financial demands of an applicant, I don't hire him. If I can't meet the demands for a raise from a salaried employee, I don't give him the raise. And while I may hope he doesn't leave for a better paying job, I understand it is his right. However, if he is an excellent producer with high standards, I will do everything in my power to try to either meet his demands or come to some kind of agreement. I would suggest those who don't think their jobs are financially rewarding enough, find a new job. It's your right. And if you truly love your job otherwise, then start producing results that will convince your employers (the taxpayers) that you are a much needed commodity.

On a collective basis, in my school district, I'm not seeing evidence that the extremely well paid teachers are performing the quality of work for which they are paid. Standard testing on 11thgraders revealed that only 58% were able to read at grade level, down from 66% the previous year. Also revealed was a 45% grade level achievement in math and a 41% achievement in science. Math was down 8%, while science was stagnant. Pennsylvania, as a whole, was only 1-2% better. In fact, Pennsylvania ranks in the 55th percentile on a national basis. Again, I don't believe these performances support the notion that our teachers aren't being paid enough.

I suggest we begin doing exactly what they demand in respect to paying according to all they accomplish. Averaging the scores would be about 45% on level achievement. The average national teacher's wage is about $54,000 taking both newly hired and long term teacher's salaries into account. This figure also includes salaries from areas with very high costs of living. Since the level of achievement is only 45%, perhaps we should only be paying 45% of the national average which would be $24,300 per year. Maybe the incentive of increased pay by percentages of achievement will help to motivate our teachers to perform at a higher level.

I urge every one who reads this to take the time to do a little research (http://php.app.com/edstaff/search.php) on their own school districts and the teaching staffs. It's not only our right to know the costs of our education systems, but it is our duty to monitor and curb unnecessary spending. If you wouldn't pay $50 -100,000 a year for your child's college tuition at a school known for it's failure to produce qualified graduates, then don't do so for their elementary and secondary education.

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Comments 9 comments

AbsoluteJeanius profile image

AbsoluteJeanius 5 years ago

I think it is utterly ridiculous to tie teacher salaries to student achievement until the parents obey the teacher's standards as well!

If parents would follow my guidelines, their kids would do better all around - and I say this as a teacher mentor and academic therapist. Most parents refuse to do the hard work of parenting and want to leave it to schools and teachers to pick up their slack.

I've guided many parents of learning disabled students - including oppositional/defiant and ADHD - through the parenting skills that encourage students' growth while refusing to tolerate poor behaviours, and how to do it without disrespecting, abusing, or crushing their students' spirits.

It can be done. Is it easy? Absolutely not. Convenient? Far from it! Painful? Yes indeed for both parents and children. But it is absolutely worth it.

Withholding teacher salaries will simply drive the caring teachers out of the field, leaving it to minimum wage employees with about as much dedication as the nearest burger flipper. I want better than that for our youth!


Terri Meredith profile image

Terri Meredith 5 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

AbsoluteJeanius, I must apologize! I don't know how I missed this comment until now, except to say I've been extremely busy.

From your comments, I'm assuming you may be one of the rare teachers. I can tell you hair raising stories about my own personal observances, and interactions that would show you the other side of the issue. It's wrong for either of us to lay blame solely on one or the other. Please don't get caught up in the blame game.

There are plenty of parents who truly don't parent their children in the manner others would like them to do. There are equally as many teachers who do not perform the job they are paid to perform. My eldest daughter was permitted to go through 8 months of 1st grade before her teacher decided to inform me she was having trouble with reading. There had been no homework in that area and she had received A's on previous report cards. I was an involved parent, the VP of the PTO. I was furious. It only took me two weeks to bring my daughter who has an IQ one point short of what is considered genius range, up to speed. Why was her teacher unable to spot the problem earlier?

10 years later, my son who is a victim of ADHD, was literally passed through year after year without being able to read or do basic mathematical computations. Year after year, I did battle with teachers who insisted that he was learning disabled beyond the ADHD. As his parent, I knew better as he had been tested by the Mental Health Department at the age of 3. I had to fight to get an evaluation from the school psychologist. When it was completed, it revealed that my son was so advanced in his ability to think in the abstract, that most of his teachers were not equipped to know how to teach him. He wasn't your normal 5th grade student. Do you know those teachers were angry about being told they were wrong? They found fault with the psychologist's findings because now they had to follow a recommended program that would require more work on their parts. I was so tired of the lack of dedication to teaching, I moved only to discover that the disease had spread. I pulled my son out of public school and home-schooled him. He learned more in the 1st three months at home than he had in 7 years of public school. At this time, he is in college and reads an average of 3-4 books a month on a wide range of topics not necessarily related to his studies.

When teachers, who mistakenly believe they have all the answers so parents should simply follow their lead because they say so, learn to work cooperatively in an exchange of ideas which work for EVERYONE involved on a case by case basis, then we will see a positive difference. Right now, horrible teachers are being kept in positions because they are protected through Teachers' Unions. It's a disgrace. There is no other career or job which allows for increasing salaries BEFORE accomplishment takes place. If a teacher is performing, there's no call to withhold their salary. So if you're one of the "caring" teachers who is performing, what's your worry?

About your comment relating to burger flippers...it is an example of ignorance. Have you ever worked in such an establishment? After being in charge of multi-million dollar budgets for real estate projects, I decided I had always loved the restaurant business. I went into management as the General Manager of a fast food franchise. It was the most rewarding job I ever held. The majority of the employees are not stupid by any means, and given the right attention and coaching, can be led to do great things.

I worked very hard to make my people, ALL of them, the very best they could be and the results were astounding! Every one of my managers came from my own staff and I was willing to pit their knowledge against any college degree in the same field. I discovered early on, that the majority of fast food employees are simply folks who were ignored and over-looked by those who should have been parenting and/or teaching them when they were growing up.


crazyteacher profile image

crazyteacher 3 years ago from Virginia

Take a look at North Carolina teacher pay...I think your hub was written from a very narrow perspective. I have taught for 8 years and most of the teachers I have worked with work between 50-60 hours a week. Are there a few who leave as soon as they contractually can? Of course, but they are more the exception than the rule. My husband and I are both educators in the fields of Math and Science. He teaches HS Math and I teach 8th grade Math and Science. My smallest class has 29 students with the other classes being over 30. My desks keep breaking and there are not any to replace them. My husband and I both are in our 8th year of teaching and will complete our Masters in May, but for now with 7 years experience we are making $33,030. When I figure my hourly wage it comes up to just over $11. However, any person with their Bachelor Degree and experience should expect to be paid well beyond minimum wage. I certainly can understand frustration when teachers seem to be failing at their duties and perhaps they are in your district, but I am more inclined to believe that changes in student expectations and decrease in parental involvement is more to blame that lack of teachers ability or caring. Do you realize that 6th graders today are learning the math we learned in HS? These are expectations being passed down to us by politicians who don't understand how students learn and age appropriateness of expectations. Read my hub on No Child Left Behind and you will see what is happening to our teachers and children. It is not teachers (except for a small few who are inept) that are ruining our education, it is politicians who make decisions while being completely separated from the classroom experience.


Terri Meredith profile image

Terri Meredith 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

crazyteacher:

It's perfectly within your right to voice your opinion, just as it's within MY right to voice mine in saying you have either mistakenly missed the entire first half of the article, or you are choosing to ignore it out of convenience. I clearly stated that monetary figures are a NATIONAL average. I also stated that most salaries paid to teachers were comparable with the average wage for the given area THOUGH THERE ARE EXCEPTIONS to the rule.

I took your advice and checked out your state. It would seem that North Carolina has average starting teacher salaries of $27,944 but an overall average of $43,343 for the year 2012. The average salary paid across the board for ALL jobs was $41,250 in 2011. I'd say NC teachers are right in the ballpark regarding pay in comparison with other types of jobs. I even checked out the cost of living and economy in NC. It would seem that your state ranks 25th, right smack dab in the middle of the National average. You can't get anymore average than that.

In light of all the above mentioned, I'm not sure where you get the idea that it's a narrow view. I simply think the pendulum has swung too far and now instead of teachers not being paid enough, the students aren't getting their money's worth. I'm sick of the tired song about horrible parents being solely to blame. It just isn't so. There are good parents and not-so-good parents. There are good teachers and not-so-good teachers. That's one thing that has never changed. It's always been a fact simply because the world is made up of many types of people.

I agree that politicians are clueless and the "No Child Left Behind" scheme is a waste. In my opinion it is simply a ruse and an excuse for government becoming even more entrenched into the lives of the citizens. There's no better way to take control of a community than to make it legal to take away their rights to determine their own school policies and curriculum offerings.

As for your comment about how a person with a Bachelor Degree and experience should be able to expect to be paid well beyond minimum wage....well, that sort of says it all, doesn't it? You're quite welcome to have any expectations you choose, but expecting it won't necessarily get you it. And just because a lot of people have the same expectation doesn't mean it's justifiable.

I don't mean to insult you or put your efforts down. However, I don't believe being in the possession of any kind of degree is something that should be rewarded just for the mere possession of it. I applaud everyone who is dedicated enough to go the required distance for obtaining one. It says a lot about dedication and perseverance, but it doesn't tell me how well the material was learned. Someone could go to school for 10 years, taking the same classes over and over until they finally pass. Or they could pay others to write their papers and do their homework, barely scraping by on testing. There are also those individuals who might never attend a formal class nor enroll in a single college course, who because of their own curiosity and thirst for knowledge acquire the same education through different channels. I find it very distasteful that those individuals will not be permitted to pass on their knowledge simply because society values a piece of paper over the true knowledge it's supposed to represent.

When you speak of a decrease in parental involvement, it shows your bias. There are some very good reasons parents can't be involved the way they were in years gone by. It's called a need to work so their children can eat. There is also the fact that most teachers simply will not even entertain the idea of meeting with a parent after school hours, wanting the parent to lose hours at a much needed job in order to accommodate the teachers' union. I can't speak for your school district, but I can tell you that in my district parent-teacher conferences are scheduled during daytime hours when parents are at work. And even though there is usually an option for emailing a teacher in an effort to communicate, most teachers I'm acquainted with simply do not respond.

My observations are not restricted solely to my own personal experiences. I have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances, some of whom are teachers. In fact, all of my ex-husband's family members were either teachers, educational administrators, or ministers. They were good people who loved their jobs. They have since retired but that doesn't mean they are out of touch with what's been happening. I've resided in several states due to my job. I raised my children in those states. The problems experienced were not isolated.

I now have grandchildren. A few months ago, my 13 year old granddaughter (who attended cyber school) was the victim of a tragic freak accident with a Razor scooter. She suffered a torn liver, a broken back, broken shoulder, broken arm and lost a kidney. We didn't know if she would live through the ordeal. Her sister and brothers attended the local school a few blocks away. While their sister battled for her life, their parents kept the family close by in case of the unthinkable. Phone calls and emails were sent to each of the children's teachers and school officials by several family members. They were kept informed from day to day.

The kids were out of school for 3 days during which time a request for their school work was made so we could pick up their assignments to do from home. The request was never met. Their explanation was that it was too much work for all the teachers to do when the kids were only out for 3 days. When they returned to school, they were punished by their teachers for not having those assignments done. In fact, my 12 yr. old granddaughter was sent home with a horribly demeaning note that she was forced to sign as though the words had come from her. It said that she was lazy and irresponsible for failing to do the same work her classmates had managed to accomplish in the same allotted time. It came from a teacher who had been emailed each day the child was out of school. That child is a straight "A" student, who cried her eyes out over the incident. This same teacher punished her for not having work done that required logging in to a computer site. There was a problem with logging in and the teacher was told. Ms. Degree Holder didn't bother to fix the problem or report it, but still punished my granddaughter for not having the work done. In the mean time, her barely alive sister had been transported to a trauma center 150 miles away.

When my daughter and her husband demanded a meeting with the teacher and school officials, she arrived only to be told the teacher couldn't be at the meeting. Apparently, her mistreatment wasn't a concern for her supervisors, nor did they agree that there was anything wrong with inflicting that kind of humiliation on an 11 year old. They were a bunch of idiots who didn't seem to have a clue about the injured member of the family. In fact, they actually came right out and asked what had happened, like they never even bothered to read their emails or have personal conversations with any of us.

The icing on the cake was when the vice principle blurted out his explanation of the computer problem. Apparently, they were aware as it was district-wide and they'd had to call in an IT team to correct it. Then why was my granddaughter punished? Her teacher was aware of the problem and neglected to make allowances for it.

The entire group of school representatives kept make excuses for the teacher and didn't feel the need to extend an apology to either parent or child. My daughter pulled all of her children out of school that very day. This happened in an affluent neighborhood with a school system that is well equipped for the business of teaching. They just suck at their jobs, and frankly, I don't want to pay them for it...not one red penny.


crazyteacher profile image

crazyteacher 3 years ago from Virginia

I'm truly sorry you had such a negative experience in so many different situations. I would ask what is the only common factor?


Terri Meredith profile image

Terri Meredith 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

I'm not sure what you're implying with regards to common denominators. I have hundreds of stories that can't all be told here as there's not the room or time. These stories come from other parents. Some come from the teachers, themselves.

Back in the late 80's, my job took me to Silver Springs, MD. The elementary school was only a few doors from my home. I absolutely loved the teachers and staff. No one could ask for a more accommodating and caring group of teachers. They formed their own homework club to help kids who might be having trouble. They did it for an hour after school every day and they did it without extra pay. They didn't call a parent and interrupt their work unless it was an emergency, but they DID call during evening hours just to touch base each week. I never met a single parent who had a complaint to make about the teachers or the school district. I also never saw so much cooperation between teachers and parents as I saw in Silver Spring. What's interesting to note: At that time, most of the teaching staff was not American born. Almost every teacher my children had, came from a different culture. And let me tell you, there was a wide variety of cultures. What does that say to you? For me, I think Americans have gotten very greedy and suffer from a great deal of entitlement issues. I was very sorry when my job brought me back to Pennsylvania where a teacher suggested that I quit my job and go on welfare so I was available to accommodate HER schedule. It was the most insulting and infuriating, not to mention stupid thing I ever heard come out of a teacher's mouth. The scary part is that she was being genuine. She really believed it was more important for me to come to her scheduled events than to teach my children the importance of personal responsibility for their lives.

Should I tell you the story of one parent who was advised by her son's teacher to have her son repeat kindergarten because the following year a new full day kindergarten program was being put into effect? The parent informed the teacher she would do no such thing since her son was performing very well and able to do the work being taught. The teacher's reason for the recommendation was because studies had shown that kindergarten boys are less mature than girls of the same age. Since the child in question had an April birthday, this genius teacher thought he should repeat kindergarten. She didn't base it on his performance. At the end of the year, 7 children, all boys with April and May birthdays were failed. The boy in question was one of them. Now, I'm sure you're going to find all kinds of possibly legitimate reasons for this to happen. Personally, I believe the school used these kids as test subjects against the will of the parents.

Or how about the male math teacher who wasn't happy with a student who was having trouble with his math concepts? The 5th grader asked his mother for help and she showed him long division the way she had learned. The next day the teacher was not happy with the way the boy was calculating his answers, even though they were correct. The teacher announced to the entire class that the only purpose their mothers should fulfill was washing their socks, not teaching them math.

And then there are the 6 single mothers who lived in a town that was filled with mostly doctors and attorneys. These mothers were left fighting for support from their ex-husbands (doctors and lawyers) who fought them at every turn. Their children were the only children on subsidized lunches. Their children's school files showed numerous negative comments from teachers about what "bad" mothers they were because their children were never permitted to take part in school extra curricular activities. The empty headed twits couldn't figure out that these children's mothers didn't have the money to pay $15 for a field trip, plus a packed lunch. They certainly didn't want their children to be the only ones without any spending money for souvenirs. This was a school district that had Olympic sized indoor swimming pools, 15 students per classroom, and new books every two years. They also had several brand new computers in every class room in the early 1990's when surrounding school districts could barely afford one for the library.

These stories are not my stories. The districts they happened in were not ones my own children or grandchildren attended. So...about your question....the only common denominator I can find is that the public school system and teachers were involved.

As for parent involvement... It would seem that the only involvement wanted is for parents to just go with whatever teachers and administrators suggest, rather than being actively involved. The idea that teachers know what's best for every child for every occasion is a dangerous fallacy that is supported by teachers who bought into the dogma taught to them. Teachers do NOT have all the answers and they need to stop allowing their over-inflated egos to get in the way of good parent-teacher relations. I can't count the times I've heard for myself or been told by other parents this particular comment made by numerous teachers: "I went to school to learn about child development, so I know what's best." At least 50% of the time, that ideology comes from teachers who don't even have a child of their own.

You want better results and parents who are involved? Stop labeling blind obedience as parental involvement. Stop thinking parents need to toe the line you draw in the sand. Stop making demands that are self-serving but put parents at risk of losing their jobs or of being unable to pay their bills. Stop assuming parents with financial limitations or no support systems are bad parents. Stop punishing parents for not agreeing with everything you say. You want parents who look at you with respect and adoration? Then do a few things that will foster their trust that you have their children's best interests at heart and not the mortgage payment on your 4 bedroom house. When I say "you", I mean public school employees in general, not you personally.


crazyteacher profile image

crazyteacher 3 years ago from Virginia

I understand you may not mean me personally, but when you globalize and put all teachers in to this "box" you are talking about me and my husband. I agree with you wholeheartedly about the entitlement generation, but I feel it is the kids who feel entitled. They want to be given grades for nothing. As for parent relationships, my parents have my cell phone number and the only stipulation I placed on their using it is to not contact me after 9 pm, as this is my time allotted for my homework (working on my Masters) and time with my husband. I meet with parents whenever they need to meet and this is required by our school, but I would do that even if it were not, as would most of my coworkers, except those that have a 2nd job they have to go to after school to survive.

My coworkers also do not own houses because they can't afford it or have fixer uppers that they are scrounging and saving to try to get up to liveable standards. We are renting a house with 3 bedrooms because we have teenage twins. It is very old, has had its well go out twice on us, has too little insulation and the air conditioner does not work upstairs. For all this we get to pay $900 a month! Lucky us!

As for parent involvement, I would just like to have my parents ensure that their child is completing their homework, but it is only a very limited math teacher who does not allow his pupils to solve problems in different forms, so long as they show work and get the correct answer. Which is how my husband and I handle such math issues, as well as our coworkers. That is a very old school thought that students have to "do it the way I said." I have not run in to a teacher in my last 8 years that requires this of their students. It would also be nice if parents punished their kids for getting in trouble at school and expected that they behave when they attend school. I have been called a b--ch by four different students this year and only 1 parent brought their student up to school and made them apologize. Of course, this is part of the district that I am in, as in the past 7 years of teaching in Texas, I have never been spoken to so disrespectfully, but regardless many students are not being held accountable by their parents and to say it is because they are too busy working is cop out. My parents both worked full time and still made sure my homework was done before I went to bed. If I got in trouble at school, I was in more trouble at home. This is also how we are raising our twins. School is their job and it is their job to behave and get good grades. My husband and I both work which has been the "norm" for quite some time and we hold our kids accountable. Even though my husband often does not get home from work until 7 pm or later due to coaching duties assigned to him. However, he still will sit down with our son and help him with his Algebra and emails teachers to check on their progress.

You have to take in to account that all of the stories you are getting from other parents are first of all one sided and secondly, the ones coming from students should always be questioned as to whether or not they are reliable. I have had my own kids tell me terrible things about their teachers at one time or another, but when I got to the bottom of it, it was either greatly stretched or my child trying to cover up their culpability.

I will agree that there are bad teachers, but I will not agree that most public teachers are bad or that they should receive less pay. My husband and I have 1 vehicle payment: a Kia van and with our bills we are in the hole each month. We get $33,030 which after taxes, health insurance costs and the like, we bring home $2400 a month each. We buy discount groceries and our clothes from Goodwill, but there is not enough to go around. We do not eat out, except on payday. And we both graduated with honors with our Bachelors degree and have stellar test scores from our years of teaching experience. We both currently have a 4.0 while working full time and working on our Masters and still ensuring our kids homework is done every night. So for you to suggest that we don't deserve to be paid better because it's just a piece of paper (your comment before) or that just because a few of our lesser teachers are not up to par is ridiculous, hurtful and just plain ignorant. It is opinions the likes of yours and the pay that has helped us to decide that despite our calling to be teachers, we may need to find other employment.


Terri Meredith profile image

Terri Meredith 3 years ago from Pennsylvania Author

This is getting ridiculous. Nothing that needs fixed is going to change as long as people continue to become offended by hearing the opinions of others. Your response is an example of exactly the problem with the mentality of those associated with the public school system. This article was not written expressly for you or your husband or for any single particular person. It was written about those who fit the bill. YOU are the one who keeps identifying yourself with the behaviors mentioned. YOU are the one who feels the need to decry how unfair my expressed opinion. Quite frankly, me thinks thee dost protest too loudly!

I'm not going to address your feelings that kids are the ones with a sense of entitlement because all of that is addressed in the main article. However, I will say this about it: Children are naturally selfish with a sense of entitlement. After all, they are initially the center of their world. It takes ALL the adults in their ever widening scope, to help them find their way. They mimic and adopt behaviors they see in others, especially the adults most involved in their lives. Teachers are very much involved in their lives as so many hours are spent in the scholastic environment.

You should know this from all your years earning degrees and teaching. Childhood development is part of the curriculum for those who wish to become teachers. Why is it that for all the learning, so many seem to be unable to actually embrace what they've learned and put it to positive use?

About parental involvement: I never said that parents are too busy at work to discipline their children, so I'll kindly thank you to stop putting a spin on my words. What was said is that parents these days have many valid reasons for not being able to kowtow to a teacher's demands on their time.

As for parents making sure their children do their homework: Really???!!! You want to make your students' homework their parents' responsibility? Gee, seems to me that's not teaching a child to be responsible for his own duties. My parents made sure everyone sat down at a specified time to do their homework, but they didn't scrutinize everything we did. We weren't required to show them some list of assignments. It was our responsibility to do it and do it right. If we needed help we had to ask for it. Before we went to bed, we were asked if our homework was completed. That was all. But if it was discovered we had not done as we said, then we were in major trouble for the crime of lying. The punishment for not doing our homework was left up to the teachers since they were the one's who assigned it. If our grades were not up to par, then our parents requested extra work for us to do at home, and the teachers accommodated the request. That extra work took away from our free time. With the exception of one brother who was learning disabled, we were all honor roll students back in the day when Honor Roll meant having no less than a 93% average.

As for parents not holding their children accountable: says who? You? You're making an unfounded assumption based on a belief that your idea of punishment is the correct one. How do you know these students haven't been reprimanded or punished? Just because a parent doesn't march their kid in to apologize does NOT mean they haven't addressed the issue. I've worked with too many kids whose family was one paycheck from homelessness. I know the struggles these parents have trying to find time to do all that needs done. I find people, teachers included, who focus on punishments and reprimands as the answers to their problems, to be bloodthirsty egomaniacs. It's simply ego that drives people to feel insulted that their wishes aren't carried out. Ego is what makes people believe they have the right to make demands and expect them to be carried out. And it's a bruised ego that makes them retaliate.

As for your financial woes: I can't identify with them. I've had the luxury of having some very high paying jobs that I left for a great deal less because the work was more rewarding to me. I knew there would be sacrifices and I made them willingly. But then again, I never allowed myself to be obligated to making monthly payments on anything other than utilities and a mortgage that was well within my means. I refuse to own a single credit card. If I couldn't pay cash for a new car, I bought a used one with what cash I had on hand. If I couldn't afford cable, the internet, or a cell phone, I simply didn't have it. I don't watch television anyway and my children learned to enjoy reading. I didn't run out and buy the latest fashions or gaming systems. I don't buy any kind of processed food. It's expensive and it certainly isn't healthy. That means I didn't buy instant anything. I don't buy junk foods and snacks, though I'm quite good at whipping up my own, when the mood strikes, for pennies. I even bake my own bread, rolls, wraps, and English muffins. I don't go out to eat. I find that I don't like paying 5 times the cost just because someone else cooked the food, especially since I'm pretty good in the kitchen. I prefer to watch a movie in the privacy of my own home, and I don't go out to bars or nightclubs, though I enjoy get togethers with friends and family. And yes, I'm good with a needle, too. So good that my daughters modeled in competitions wearing the clothes I made. And they won, over and over again.

I'm not suggesting that everyone should do all those things. But the truth of the matter is that people spend most of their money on the things they WANT, not just what they need. No one needs dozens of outfits or shoes or electronics or the latest electronic gadget or the newest of anything. They merely want them. Just like you don't NEED a three bedroom home. You WANT one. That's okay. It's entirely your choice to decide how you spend your money. It's not okay to tell taxpayers we should make sure you have the means to get more of what you WANT.

I can't for the life of me understand how $4800 a month isn't enough to live on. My fiance was very sick for quite some time. Even had open heart surgery. He had to start all over in a career that normally pays a man with his experience a minimum of $75,000. He has 30+ years experience, along with his formal education. Unfortunately, due to the economy, he had to take a job that pays about half of his worth. I no longer work outside the home, yet we are able to pay our housing and costs, 2 cell phones, satellite TV, internet, a membership to a local botanical garden, and still eat well, in addition to owning two cars. The rent for our apartment and storage unit is only $85 less than you pay and we have one bedroom. And no, we don't live in a ghetto. His take home pay is quite a bit less than $2400. Before he moved in with me, I was on unemployment. I only received a little over $1500 a month. I managed to save $4,000 that year. I'm guessing it's because I don't spend my money on the things so many others do. You mentioned that you and your husband are educators in science and math. I'm not trying to be flippant, but can't you put your own education to work for you? Mapping out a household budget and sticking to it isn't rocket science. It just takes some sacrifices like millions of workers in other fields are being forced to make.

And finally, I said you don't deserve to be paid more for the mere POSSESSION of a piece of paper. Sorry, that's not going to change. I've earned certifications in several fields, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be paid more. My performance is what has always earned me my raises. Not time served.


crazyteacher profile image

crazyteacher 3 years ago from Virginia

You are welcome to your opinion, but it is people like you who are driving good teachers out of teaching.

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