Do the math: If teachers were paid like babysitters, we would earn $200k+ per year #teacherproblems

At the risk of sounding like Rodney Dangerfield, teaching really is a job where I get no respect.

Not from the kids—the kids respect me plenty. Mostly because I talk to them like they’re actual people, have high expectations for them, and really care about them. Which is also probably why most of them call me “mom.” But that’s a story for another day.

So where does this lack of respect come from? Well, the answer is society.

We’ve all heard variations of the expression, “Those who can’t do, teach.” This is the single most condescending thing you can say to a teacher, because there isn’t a successful person in this world who would be where they are without their teachers.  

Does that mean that all teachers are wonderful and deserving of Michelle Pfeifer to play them in a movie? No. There are some terrible teachers out there too. Remember those ditsy girls who twirled their hair around their fingers and said, “I’m going to be a teacher when I grow up”? Yeah, they are. But there are also some pretty amazing people in schools today, and let me tell you, we’re not doing it for the money.

Let’s do some basic math here. (And yes, I understand that I am an English teacher, but I can still do basic math. But I’ll use round numbers to make life easier for everyone.)

A babysitter earns about $10-$15 an hour to watch 2-3 kids as the little darlings watch tv, pick their noses, and play with Legos. (Side note: do kids still play with Legos or is everything digital these days? Because my kids are definitely going to play with Legos. If for no other reason, they’ll play with Legos because they need to understand the pain of stepping on one in their bare feet. I’m not raising soft-footed wimps in my house!) Which works out to about $5 per kid per hour.

I watch 30 kids an hour. But my kids aren’t watching tv and stepping on Legos in their bare feet (although that would be an AWESOME punishment for misbehavior. Hmmm…). No, my kids are learning, and I am held accountable for that learning. If I just plopped all 30 of them down in front of a tv every day, I wouldn’t have my job much longer, tenure or no.

But let’s assume for a moment that I was paid babysitter rates for teaching my students. This would mean I’d be making $150/hour, which at eight hours a day, 190 days a year translates to roughly $228,000 per year.

We can quibble over some finer details of that, as I do have two planning periods in my day and don’t actually clock 40 hours in the building at school every week, but I do spend more than eight hours a day working when grading is factored in. But a babysitter isn’t actively involved with kids during the entire time either assuming that the children have a bed time, so using round numbers, the $228,000 a year model still applies without having to add in extra days for the summer, winter break, or spring break.

Living large, huh?

Hah.

In reality, I’m making about $1.50 per kid per hour. And I work in one of the highest paying school districts in the country.

Starting salary for a teacher with a master’s degree in my district is $51,128. Ending salary for that same teacher working 25 years or more in the system without obtaining additional degrees is $96,966.

This means that a 25-year-veteran teacher with a master’s degree in education is making less than half of the per-kid, per-hour rate that the 15-year-old girl who watches your kids on a Saturday night, then raids your fridge while watching pay-per-view movies on your account with her boyfriend, is making.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Now I understand that even teacher salaries follow the laws of supply and demand and therefore know that parents are willing to spend extra money to gain the freedom that comes with paying a babysitter to put their kids to bed so they can go to the movies and feel like normal people for an evening instead of just “Mom and Dad.” But if you want to know why school systems around the world are consistently outperforming American schools, that de-prioritizing of educational necessities is a huge factor.

And while there are many extremely gifted teachers who are slogging through the meager-salaried days to do one of the most noble and thankless jobs out there, there are an abundant number of people who would be just as or even more amazing, but who opted out of anything resembling teaching in order to make a more comfortable living.

The moral of my story is simple: If you want to complain that teaching is for those who can’t do, then start paying us what those who are out there “doing” are earning. Because I can promise you that if you raise teaching salaries to even just those bare bones babysitter rates, you’ll have one of the most competitive job markets around.

            

                

It’s been a week and I haven’t ordered the new iPhone yet. That’s progress!

My name is Sara, and I’m an Apple-aholic.


Hi Sara.

Thanks. Like most of you here, it started years ago with an iPod. Just a little, 32GB iPod. Everyone else already had one. I tried to be a good girl and just use my little non-Apple mp3 player, but everyone made fun of it. So I gave in to the peer pressure and tried my first Apple product. I’d seen my dad using them, so really, how much harm could there be in trying something Apple?

And at first, I had it under control. That one iPod was enough for me for a long time. True, I started toting it everywhere with me, just in case. And yes, I used it to hide from uncomfortable social situations. Turn it on, slip those little white earbuds in, and suddenly I felt good again. Was it a crutch? Yes. But I couldn’t see that at the time because it was just one little iPod.

I should have known there was a problem when I had to have it wired into my car because I just couldn’t function without it. And when I would panic if I didn’t have it with me. But one little iPod can’t hurt you, right?

But then I got my MacBook Pro. I’d had a Dell laptop (which, admittedly, I had wanted because they came in colors. I’m a girl. Deal with it.). And that’s when the addiction really got bad. Because I never wanted to touch that old Dell again once I had my MacBook. Oh no. Everything just felt RIGHT when I used my Mac. Everything worked.  There were no more viruses to worry about.  No left button/right button confusion. And I felt superior to all those PC people who had to hit “CTRL” instead of “Command.” Losers.

And I didn’t even have an iPhone or an iPad! Clearly I wasn’t an addict. Addicts couldn’t be away from their Mac products for longer than three seconds without dying like the the guy who drank from the wrong cup in the third Indiana Jones movie. I, on the other hand, chose wisely.  I could leave my iPod in my purse for most of the day and be fine.


That’s how they suck you in though. That MacBook is a gateway drug. Because it came with a free iPod touch. Which meant that I was using Apple more than ever. I could leave my old iPod in the car and use the touch for everything else. I could even use it to get online when I had wifi and was away from my computer.  Which, yes, I could do with my Blackberry, but it was just BETTER with an Apple product.

And oh how I clung to that Blackberry! I saw how addicted my dad had become to the Apple way of life, and I know that addictions are hereditary.  I didn’t want to go that route. So I vowed never to get an iPhone! Never to get an iPad! Never to fall prey to that Apple-induced madness that possesses addicts every time a new product is announced! Oh no, not me! I didn’t have a problem! I could stop any time I wanted to.

Addicts, however, tend to surround themselves with other addicts to justify their behavior. And my parents are no different. Like the worst of smokers and drinkers, I started using my parents’ iPads when they weren’t looking. A websearch here. A Facebook update there. An email. A YouTube video. A round of Words With Friends. But they caught on. And because they don’t see their own addictions as a problem, instead of castigating me, they bought me an iPad for my birthday last year. The Apple TV quickly followed suit.


And after that, there was no turning back. I woke up at 2:45am the night that the iPhone 4S went on sale to make sure I was alert enough to order mine EXACTLY at 3am. I claimed I had a doctor’s appointment and left school early the day it was delivered–the FIRST day that anyone could have one, to rush home to set it up. Behavior that a non-addict would find simply appalling.

I couldn’t stop though. I popped apps like they were TicTacs. I spent countless hours installing things I didn’t need, had no use for, but craved because they were there and they enhanced my Apple products like nothing else could. I preferred texting other Apple users because they too acted like our behavior was normal. They got it. And with iMessage, I could see when they were replying to me. And we could send emojis. Non-Apple users didn’t understand and judged us for preferring the company of other Apple-aholics. Clearly THEY were the ones with the problems.  Not us.  Never us. And even if some of my friends were addicted, I wasn’t.  I couldn’t be an addict. 

But when they announced the new iPhone 5 and I actually debated spending $700 on one because my contract isn’t up for another year, I realized that I had a serious problem. Buying the iPhone 5 was the equivalent of going SEVEN Springsteen shows. (Okay, three with Ticketmaster fees. But still). I have bills to pay. A mortgage. A schnauzer to feed. And I was actually debating spending that much money just to get the new iPhone a few months earlier.  Not good.

Maybe there was a way though.  The day that the announcement was made, I tried to figure out if I could make the money.  But when I posted this on my Facebook (JOKINGLY):

And got THIS as a reply from someone who shall remain nameless, but whom I will from now on refer to as the Creepiest Person I Know:

I realized my addiction had gone too far.  (NO I DID NOT CONSIDER HIS OFFER.  I’m NOT that bad!  But that is a REAL, UNEDITED message that I got the night that the iPhone announcement was made.  SCARY.)

So I’m taking a stand. I’m going to try to break the cycle of addiction. I can make do with the 4S with the upgraded iOS6, which does let it do most of the same stuff as the iPhone 5.  No, it doesn’t have the slightly different body to let everyone know immediately that my phone is superior to theirs in every possible way. But I’m strong. I can manage. And, God willing, with the help of other Apple-aholics out there who are also fighting the urge to spend $700 on a slightly better phone just because it’s new and Apple makes it, I can resist the daily temptation to buy the iPhone 5. I know the craving won’t ever actually go away. But I just need to take it one day at a time.

That’s all any of us can do, right?

It’s been on sale for pre-orders for over a week now. I’ve made it a week so far.  And that’s longer than I ever thought I would be able to last. It’s been hard.  Especially because my dad ordered his right when they went on sale. And I was lying there in bed, staring at the ceiling, praying that I would have the strength to stay away from my MacBook.  Because I knew that as soon as I sat down at that screen, I wouldn’t be able to resist going to the Apple homepage and ordering that phone. But I’ve made it this far, and I keep hoping I’ll have the strength to resist even when I see other people with the new iPhone.

Damn you, Steve Jobs! I feel your icy grip clutching me from beyond the grave!

God, I want that phone.

Stolen from http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apple

Everything I know about cars, I learned from Springsteen songs. Help!

I know absolutely nothing about cars.

Okay, I guess that isn’t true, strictly speaking. I know how to drive them. I know that they run on gasoline. I know Bruce Springsteen likes to sing about them (even though he admits he doesn’t know that much about them either).  And I know that the second anything stops working in mine, I need to call my dad ASAP.

That is the full extent of my knowledge of cars.

I have no idea what goes on under the hood of my car. When I open it, it looks like an super-complicated game of Mousetrap, with lots of random doohickeys that make it run. But honestly, as far as I know, there could be little gnomes running on a hamster wheel who are REALLY the reason why my car goes when I push the gas pedal.

So when my “check engine” light came on last week, I did what any rational person would do.

I became convinced that my car was going to explode and began dictating a will to Siri. That’s legally binding, right?

Turns out, I just didn’t tighten the gas cap well enough the last time I filled my car up and apparently THAT causes a “check engine” light. But even once my father reassured me that no, my car was NOT going to explode (actually, his exact words were that it PROBABLY wouldn’t explode, which was somewhat less than reassuring), I still had to bring it to the dealership for them to reset the “check engine” light.

Luckily, I befriended the service manager at Toyota years ago, so that was a painless procedure. Until he reminded me that I need to get my car serviced before I drive it to Brooklyn to see the Gaslight Anthem in a couple of weeks. And unfortunately, it’s almost at 90,000 miles, which means that I needed to get the timing belt replaced.

I have no idea what any of that means. All I know is was going to cost me something like $1,100. Which is ELEVEN Springsteen shows! (Okay, not really. It’s three plus Ticketmaster charges. But in a perfect world, it’d be ELEVEN shows that I now can’t go to! Although in a perfect world, I’d be at ALL of the Bruce shows with no timing belt issues. I’d also be stick skinny, married to Leonardo DiCaprio, a world-famous author, and I’d have a shoe collection that would make Imelda Marcos’ look sparse. Clearly the world is not perfect.)

So, I cried a little, but agreed. Because I can’t afford a new car right now. And I DO love my car.

And in fact, I love my car more than ever now, because while it was in the shop, I drove my brother’s old Jeep.

Back in 1999 when my brother got the Jeep (from my uncle—it was already four years old then), he thought it was the hottest car on the planet. He pimped out the stereo system and you could literally hear him coming from about a mile away. Seriously. It was better than a LoJack.

Fast forward to Wednesday when my dad gave me the keys.

“We need to discuss a few things about driving it,” he said.

A few things turned out to be a lot more than I expected. For example there are warning lights on for parts of a car that I’ve never heard of. I don’t know what a rear cooling sensor is, nor do I know what it does or why it’s “bad.” Does it have tattoos and piercings? Does it need to go to the time out corner? And is it ACTUALLY okay to ignore it like my dad says it is?

The key fob works, he explained, but only if you’re trying to lock or unlock the rear passenger side door. It’s useless on all other doors.

The brakes are “slow,” he told me, “so leave about double the stopping distance you’d normally need.”

Air conditioning? Hah. That died years ago.

Planning to drive anyone else? Not a good idea. There used to be seats in the back, but they’re long gone.

Need to open the back hatch? Watch out because It doesn’t stay up. But there’s a pole in the back of the jeep that dad told me he uses to prop the hatch open with.

As he walked me through the basics of driving this relic of my brother’s adolescence, my eyes wandered to the spare tire holder, which looked oddly misshapen. “What’s wrong with the spare?”

“There is no spare. There are jumper cables and motor oil in there.”

“What happens if I get a flat tire?”

My dad just looked at me like I was an idiot. “Don’t get a flat tire.”

Needless to say, I was a little concerned by the time I got into the driver’s seat. Which wasn’t helped by the fact that I started the car, released the emergency brake, put it in drive, pressed the gas pedal and—nothing happened.

My dad knocked on the window and I rolled it down (THAT actually worked without me breaking out the 80s-style hand crank). “You have to put it in reverse for a second to go forward because the brakes lock up.” Silly me, I should have thought of that.

So, taking my life in my hands, I put it in reverse, then back into drive, and it mercifully lurched forward.

“This isn’t so bad,” I thought as I pulled away. It’s MUCH higher than my car and I DO like feeling tall.

That feeling of contentment lasted until I got it up to 30 miles per hour, at which point the car began to sound eerily like the Loch Ness Monster giving birth to a rabid elephant.

I quickly called my dad. “Is it supposed to sound like this?” I shouted over the car’s hideous cries of agony.

“Yup,” my dad said. “It’s fine.”

At which point, I realized that one of two things was going on. 1) My dad hates me and this was all part of a plan to kill me while making it look like an accident because there was NO WAY that this car was going to get me to and from school and the gym while mine was in the shop, or 2) the car ALWAYS sounded like that and we just couldn’t ever hear it over my brother’s subwoofers and ghetto fabulous music.

Right now, I’m leaning toward option 2, as the car DID safely get me where I needed to go. My hearing hasn’t quite recovered, but I’m pretty sure that old Nessie is either going to have that rabid elephant baby soon or else finally reach the end of her days. Nothing can make a noise like that for that long and live.

And my timing belt was replaced, so I’m back in my car with a new-found respect for the gnomes that keep it running so smoothly.

I’m poor. But I’m back in a hot car that actually works like a car is supposed to. Whatever that means.

And as my dad pointed out, if I ever DO want to run over that goose that stalks me in the mornings, I’m free to borrow the Jeep any time.