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Diaries of a Fourth Grade Teacher

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Educators: Teachers, or Babysitters?

Diaries of a Fourth Grade Teacher photo

About a year ago, one of my brother’s friends who had recently become an educator shared a rather intriguing post on a social media website comparing the average teacher’s pay to that of a babysitter. The post went viral, of course, and caused quite a disturbance among myself and my graduate school cohorts. Here we were, being trained and prepped to enter the world of education, armed with passion and cutting-edge instructional strategies to ‘wow’ our audience – the students – because they are the reason why we go into teaching.

Let’s back up for a second and read the essay as I saw it, which reportedly was written years ago at a New Hampshire newspaper:

“Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 or 10 months a year! It’s time we put thing in perspective and pay them for what they do – babysit!

We can get that for minimum wage. That’s right. Let’s give them $3.00 an hour and only the hours they worked; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they spend before or after school. That …would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to…………… 3:00 PM with 45 min. off for lunch and plan – that equals 6 1/2 hours).

Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they teach in a day…maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585.00 a day. However, remember they only work 180 days a year!!! I am not going to pay them for any vacations.

LET’S SEE…. That’s $585 X 180 = $105,300 per year. (Hold on! My calculator needs new batteries). What about those special education teachers and the ones with Master’s degrees? Well, we could pay them minimum wage ($7.75), and just to be fair, round it off to $8.00 an hour. That would be $8 X 6 1/2 hours X 30 children X 180 days = $280,800 per year.

Wait a minute – there’s something wrong here! There sure is! The average teacher’s salary (nation wide) is $50,000. $50,000/180 days = $277.77/per day/30 students = $9.25/6.5 hours = $1.42 per hour per student – a very inexpensive baby-sitter and they even EDUCATE your kids!) WHAT A DEAL!!!! Heaven forbid we take into account highly qualified teachers or NCLB…

Make a teacher smile; re-post this to show appreciation.”

This seemed a little crazy to me, but then again, so are lots of things. The truth is that we all want the best education for our children and future generations, yet we don’t have a system developed to increase the quality of that education. What’s worse, more people are graduating from college and graduate school than ever before, and the job market is not exactly lucrative either. Everyone is fighting for a job, even those of us that have jobs that want something different or better.

Now, I used to be a babysitter myself – and a darn good one, too – and back in those days, babysitting was not exactly a regular gig, but it was money in my pocket. I got to build experience in responsibility, financial management and supervision of younger individuals and learn to establish relationships with adults. I loved being able to be a kid and have tons of fun while making some (undeclared) cash on the side. Plus, I was always funny and always right. And perhaps, from time to time, we might play an educational game or review homework problems together. But, I would not have considered myself a teacher.

So I sit here scratching my head thinking, how is it possible that teachers get paid less than babysitters?

I think the lesson I learned from reading this post is that we all want the best and we are all contributors toward the future generation’s learning experience.

In any event, I think we can all agree that teachers deserve our recognition and support for spending about one third of their days with our children. Remember, they’re teaching our future sons and daughters about math, science, social studies and everything in between. So, next time you hear about a teacher’s misfortune or difficulties, just remember that we as a society have entrusted them with our future. We have given the gatekeepers all of the keys towards a brighter future, it only makes sense that we give them the credit and support they deserve and need. Plus, I think we can all think of a teacher or mentor we had in our youth that changed our lives for the better. And if we can’t, then perhaps we should make sure our children have one for their future’s sake.

Let’s hear it for our teachers!


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