Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The $100,000 Teacher

As a teacher this book’s title has a lot of appeal. Brian Crosby puts forth the thesis that we should pay teachers more, up to $100,000. He asserts, and I agree in large part, that the teaching profession needs to become more professional. He backs up his assertions with research and lots of it.

As it now stands, one gets certified and gets a job and then each year, unless you’re horrible or break the law, you get a little increase. The only chances for promotion are the administration. So there’s no possibility of advancement.

Crosby proposes that teachers start out with a slightly higher salary, that education departments become more selective (if people knew the field offered more challenge down the road and more money, more top students would consider teaching), that teachers are more carefully evaluated. Those who don’t measure up would be phased out of the field. They would not necessarily get a raise every year. As teachers gained experience they could get promoted to a Master Teacher status that would mean a teacher would have greater formal duties of mentoring and teacher training in addition to classroom teaching (fewer classes per year).

He lays out a plan for doing this by trimming other budget areas so that his plan would not require higher taxes for the public.

He also points out areas to empower or show respect to teachers so that they aren’t, as is often the case, in need of basic supplies without appropriate secretarial support.

His book often made me laugh. He makes a lot of comparisons between teachers and lawyers. For example, he asks rhetorically whether readers could imagine a surgeon coming out of surgery and then having to head out to the parking lot to direct drivers to into spaces. (Even say dermatologists, a less rigorous field, don’t have to do much crowd control and grunt work.)

Granted there are some schools where teachers are well paid and work in nice environments with enough supplies, most US schools don’t. I was interested to read that when poor children do attend schools in middle class neighborhoods, they do perform as well or better than those from affluent families.

Reading one can get tired of the amount of complaints Crosby and other quoted teachers have. I could not read it through in a few days due to complaint fatigue. As an educator, most likely changing careers as many do, I knew why teachers feel so overworked and underpaid and simultaneously cheered at common grievances voice, while also feeling overwhelmed by the many hardships cited. While this book, published a few years back, offers a better pay system and better ways of running I suspect there won’t be much change. I think most people feel their school is good enough so while all state schools could be better, there isn’t much will to really seriously change things.

Crosby points out that some teachers are the professions worst enemies. Those who do the minimum, act unprofessionally or less professionally than the parents’ can in their jobs, and those whose relationship to the union resemble a factory worker more than say a doctor relates to the AMA.

1 comment:

IamMBB said...

As a cynic, I think it's those teachers to whom you refer in your last paragraph and the unions which are going to be the insurmountable obstacle to any of the reforms discussed.