Sunday, August 21, 2005


I've been following the discussions in several states lately (the advantage of having divided loyalties) on education. Everyone wants to improve it, but few can agree on how. One thing that definitely has an impact (it's true in any industry) - if the workers have a high turnover rate, that likely is trouble for the quality of the industry's product. Now, some get offended when the word "product" is used to refer to the educated end result of years of schooling. I understand - people aren't widgets. And one-size-fits-all solutions are also not likely to lead to long-lasting educational improvements. Take one popular solution - raising teacher salaries. Here's what Betsy has to say about that:
Take an example from my field: education. People complain that teachers are leaving the field. Polticians and teachers say that the solution is to increase teacher salaries. Well, I'm all for that. But what if that isn't the real cause of teachers retiring from the profession? What if it aggravation with administrators, nasty children, work overload, poor discipline procedures, nonsupportive parents, or any of a host of factors that could lead to loss of job satisfaction? If you increase the salaries and don't address the other problems, you haven't solved the problem. And you've taken money from a whole host of other areas to do so. How are journalists to find out what the real problem is? That's tough. I don't know. I've talked to many teachers who have decided to do something else and the reasons are many and varied. Sometimes the money was an issue, but often it wasn't. Teachers know what the salary is going in. It's the other stuff that can surprise them.

She has a point. We are aware that we are unlikely to get big bucks in teaching. There are compensations, like good benefits, protections against unreasonable firing, summers off (important for moms), and knowledge that the work is important, and makes a difference in the lives of children.

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