Friday, September 07, 2012

What if You Can't Make a Living Teaching?

My guilty pleasure is watching cooking shows. I don't cook that much, but I'm fascinated by food competitions, and also by shows that try to help restaurants. One of the things I notice is that Gordon Ramsay, as nuts as he gets, never says, "The best way to save this restaurant is to close it and replace it with another one." Of course, when he gets to a restaurant, it's often on its last legs anyway.

I was watching a show called Restaurant Stakeout, noticing that they planned to judge the service via observation, when suddenly the host identified a helpful employee. The restaurant owner said, "Danielle's a friend of mine's daughter. She's a sweet girl. She's also a teacher."

This means Danielle teaches all day, then waits tables at night. Why the hell should Danielle have to live like that? I really shouldn't criticize. I taught college at night for almost 20 years. In retrospect, I wonder if I'd have made more money waiting tables. A friend of mine often tells the story of the pay cut he took when he went from being a waiter to a teacher.

Yet, to read the paper, you'd think we've got a free ride, jobs for life, a union that wants us to sit around while kids fail. That's awful. Also awful is people like Danielle, who have no time for personal lives. It's a good thing she's not in some charter school working 200 hours a week, because then she wouldn't even make the extra money, and when those anxiety attacks started coming, who knows whether she'd even have insurance?

A few years ago, I was talking to a young teacher about movies. She told me she couldn't afford to go to movies. I don't know what she did with her money, or what she owed in loans, but she wasn't living high on the hog or anything, and it broke my heart she couldn't even afford something most of us would take for granted.

I'm tired of hearing all that crap about how we can't pay all teachers more, but only the good ones. If we aren't good, why the hell did you hire us in the first place? Most teachers I know are good. Still, teachers would be better if they didn't have to read about how awful they were in the tabloids every single day. Teachers would be better if they were treated with the respect we show abject strangers. Teachers would be better if folks like Mike Bloomberg didn't wake up one morning and announce every city worker gets an 8% raise except teachers, who can all go to hell.

Danielle needs a raise too. Teachers would be better if they didn't need second jobs.
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