The three R’s of our current education system: Reading, ‘Riting and Restaurants

Waitress

“Welcome to Flingers! May I interest you in some long division?”

Last weekend, I spent some time with the folks, including a
nice dinner at a local eatery that Mom said she heard was fantastic. She got the recommendation from one of her colleagues at the middle school, so
we figured we should give it a go. Turns out, the reason why the teacher knows
so much about the restaurant is that she works there on top of her day job as a
full-time art teacher.

When we got there, we found that the teacher was not only working
that night, but was assigned to cover our table. I don’t know why, but I felt
very awkwardthroughout the meal,
especially when I had to ask for an extra soda or something. It just felt
weird, but I figured it was just me.

On the way back to the car, I explained it to Mom, who
agreed.

“Yeah, it was weird for me, too,” she said. “It’s just
strange having a colleague serve you food.”

The woman had a master’s degree and had been in the district
for almost a decade, but still couldn’t afford to live off of the teacher’s
salary. Salaries for “young” teachers, Mom explained, was about $25,000 to
$27,000 and most people couldn’t cover the basic living expenses with that kind
of salary. Say what you want to about how teachers only work nine months of the
year or anything else, but they’re required to work approximately 190
days of the year here (180 plus 10 in-service days). If you apply that
salary range to that time period and calculate it at 8-hour days, you get an
hourly wage of $16.45 to $17.76. (Anyone who knows a good teacher knows that
the 8-hour day is a myth and a free summer is a fantasy.)

This woman isn’t alone in her secondary servitude.According to a
recent survey
, more than one in four teachers in Texas have to moonlight to
make ends meet.A study of teachers in North Carolina found that more and
more teachers are augmenting their salaries by taking on additional employment.

Anecdotally, Mom was able to name several moonlighting
colleagues, including a vice principal who worked third shift at a
gas station. When I was a kid, we ran into my first-grade teacher working as a
hostess at a local diner. When the Missus and I were dating, we used to go pick
up an art teacher friend of hers at a nearby country club where she
spent her summers waitressing.

When it comes to education, you are looking at a commodity
that is clearly becoming more valuable because the jobs that are being cut are
those that come from the traditional middle-class area. Manufacturing is drying
up or seeing such stark wage cuts that it might as well dry up. Physical labor
is being outsourced to places far away. The “thinking” jobs are about all that’s
left for us and yet we seem to be undermining those opportunities at every
turn.

Education is an investment in the future, which is why it’s
so easy to cut funding for it at every turn. In this day and age, in which
everything is expected now, Now, NOW, the sense that we should invest in kids
so that they’ll do better and help improve the world for the next generation is
a foreign concept to many. It’s the fast food versus sustainable farming
argument.

The less we pay teachers and the more we force them to seek
funds elsewhere, the fewer good teachers we will have, simply because they’ll
be spread too thin. Burnout and career changes are common among teachers. In fact, there isa corporate movement afoot to target teachers for a transition into the corporate sector for just these reasons.

If we want good teachers, we have to pay well or at least
well enough that we if we run into them at the local Dairy Queen, they’re not
there serving Dilly Bars.

8 thoughts on “The three R’s of our current education system: Reading, ‘Riting and Restaurants

  1. Interrobang says:

    Don’t forget that in most places, teachers spend their summers doing continuing ed, which is a contractual requirement. A lot of teachers also teach summer school, or take a temporary gig at a tutoring service (like Oxford Learning or something) in the summers. I come from a family of public school teachers, and teachers workhard.
    On the other hand, if you want to see truly, truly crappy pay and conditions, try being a community college instructor (part-time contract faculty) in the jolly olde Province of Ontario. Community college part-time faculty can’t unionise or join any existing union by law, and they’re paidonly for class time. (At the college I taught at, you got $40/hr for teaching time, but you are not paid for prep time, marking, department meetings, office hours, time spent doing gradebooks and answering student e-mails etc. When you pro-rate it out, you’re making about $4/hr. I was teaching 3 classes per week and spending about 30h on it, and I don’t think I was particularly atypical in terms of prep-and-other-stuff-to-teaching ratio.)
    You’d think that even up here in Soviet Canuckistan, where peoplemostly are willing to shell out for the important stuff, they’d see their way clear to spending a bit more so that their precious artifact children didn’t have to be taught by a bunch of freelancers making subminimum wages…

  2. gyma says:

    At this point, I’m not sure you could pay me enough to teach the kids of people who threaten to keep them home from school so they won’t be exposed to an inspirational talk by the POTUS.

  3. pansypoo says:

    maybe if we invested more in teachers, our kids would be smarter.
    but ya know it is almost FOOTBALL SEASON, so fuck edjumikashun.

  4. BuggyQ says:

    Thank you, Doc.
    And Interrobang, you are SO right about CCs. As a part-time instructor, I’m currently making $27/hr for the one class I teach. When I figured in my prep time, grading, professional development, etc., I was making somewhere around $5 an hour. The only reason it isn’t less is because I work a full-time job (at the same CC) and another part-time job (because the FT job doesn’t exactly pay great either) and I have a demanding hobby. If I had more time to spend on my classes, I would.
    I do it because it feeds me spiritually, not physically.

  5. jeer9 says:

    At my high school’s in-services this past week, we spent the time being lectured to by an educational infomercialist whose approach focused on repetition, repetition, repetition, until concepts were fully understood and automaticity was achieved. And why is automaticity necessary? Because without it, the lower skilled students will never raise their standardized test scores and the principal, who is very competitive, will never achieve the recognition he desires. (Of course, we all know that state tests, not to mention SAT and ACT scores, accurately reflect the intelligence of every test-taker, especially those with no incentive to try on the exam.) While this technique may work with vocabulary drills and some grammar instruction, it seems ridiculously off the mark in regards to critical thinking and literary analysis. But that’s where the educational establishment has us headed, and Obama’s mandarins are not pushing anything new. Everything is quantifiable, especially success, and the money pouring into the big publishers, test makers, and pedagogical hucksters certifies their business acumen. While I feel lucky to be paid enough that I don’t need to supplement my income with a second job, it’s frustrating to see education being utterly possessed by such a warped philosophy. We should be spending our money on vocational-ed instead of demanding that every child be college-bound, especially when the universities have become just another version of Big Business. (When I saw the size of my son’s dorm room this past year and compared it to the size of his tuition, I doubted that his intellectual gains would match those on the school’s financial ledger. That he matured significantly did not go unnoticed by his parents, though I’m skeptical this growth occurred in the classroom – and it’s definitely not quantifiable.)

  6. pawan says:

    I want tell about –
    We pride ourselves on service and standards that are hard to find in today’s RMT industry. We work hard to be a step ahead of our competitors in customer service, speed, value and price. This is our main focus so it’s not something we can be easily defeated in. We feel we have achieved this and we’re confident enough to say that we guarantee your satisfaction 100%. You will not find any of our competitors making a claim like that, because even they know they’re lacking where we stand out.
    —————————————-
    pawan
    —————————————-
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  7. pawan says:

    I want tell about it –
    We pride ourselves on service and standards that are hard to find in today’s RMT industry. We work hard to be a step ahead of our competitors in customer service, speed, value and price. This is our main focus so it’s not something we can be easily defeated in. We feel we have achieved this and we’re confident enough to say that we guarantee your satisfaction 100%. You will not find any of our competitors making a claim like that, because even they know they’re lacking where we stand out.
    —————————————-
    pawan
    —————————————-
    Buy WoW Gold

  8. pansypoo says:

    i remember when i just was edumicated and just did well on those standard tests. but then, i always thought tests were fun.

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