Friday, February 11, 2011

What Teachers Make

The video above was sent to me by Courtney Salthouse Wright, a graduate of Chamblee High School, Class of 1996. It is well worth the 3 minutes it takes to watch it! Then pass it on!

In case the name "Salthouse" rings a bell with you, Courtney and her twin, Chris, made news around the world and brought Chamblee High School national recognition when they both aced the SAT at the same time. They were the first twins to do that simultaneously. Read about that -- and their mom's comments about parenting them -- here in the New York Times.


Sagamore 7 said...

Nicely done Sandy.
Mr. Mali is a very passionate teacher and speaker.
I forwarded this to my teachers at our school and thanked them for all they do to help MY children prepare for this world and their life.
What a great way to start the weekend!

Sagamore 7 said...


Are you still trying to get the E&Y audit?


Anonymous said...

Loved the video!

Anonymous said...

I am so sick of that stupid story...old as the hills, and only serves to further the stereotype that only other professions deserve payment, teachers are paid in fuzzy feelings. Well everybody who works hard in society makes a difference, but they still earn a living wage. Please don't buy into this nonsense.

Anonymous said...

For the most part, what you earn is based on supply and demand. Less than 100 people this year were qualified (having the necessary skills) to be a quarterback in the NFL. 100 out of 300 million. So they get paid a lot. Probably 180 million people in the uSA are qualified to cook french fries and assemble all beef patties on a bun, thus the pay for that job is lower than the QB job. Currently it is quite easy to become a teacher. If next year it became much more difficult to teach, we'd create a shortage of teachers. A shortage creates demand. Demand translates to more money... for teachers. Nearly every profession's salary is based upon supply and demand.

Anonymous said...

9:02--I couldn't agree more. the sentiment is genuine--that we make a difference. But the implication is that the gratification is somehow payment enough. There are plenty of folks out there--politicians who actually do their jobs, for example--who make a difference. And they are well compensated for using their skills and training in doing so.

9:57--You are right, and I suppose that is the intent of what will surely be a poorly-designed system of rating teachers. There will be a smaller supply of "good" teachers, so they will be more in demand and more highly paid.

Anonymous said...

The whole problem is with the perception though, unlike other jobs. Those people who are qualified to fry french fries all pretty much do it at the same skill level - there aren't any who are so great that customers flock only to THAT McDonalds. On the other hand, a brain surgeon who is the best one in the country will make millions while his newly trained and perhaps not so skilled counterpart might make $150,000. This piece is missing with teachers. We know the fast food guy isn't saving lives or shaping the nation's policy. Teachers are. So think about it. If there was a law that said all brain surgeons, regardless of skill, would be paid $150,000, what do you think this would do to the pool of available, motivated brain surgeons in your time of need? The good ones would be gone and you'd be left with a pool of depressed, unappreciated, and mostly mediocre surgeons. Then botched surgery and faulty treatment would become a national epidemic. LIke the one we have in education. So back to the beginning - furthering a public perception like the one in this old story encourages people to continue to believe in some Norman Rockwell picture of the little old lady school teacher with her modest lifestyle free of such encumberances as restaurant dinners or vacations or cable tv, and oh is't that sweet. It isn't sweet, it's criminal.

Kim Gokce said...


Sandy (may I call you Sandy?), please remember these rules for maximum appeal on the blog:

1) Never post anything positive.
2) Cede no point no matter how benign or well intentioned.
3) Don't argue with what is said, argue with what pisses you off even if off topic.
4) And no matter what you do, never, ever, ever expression any gratitude whatsoever - it is sign of weakness and must be suppressed.

I hope this will make your future postings and participation more enjoyable!

Anonymous said...

The problem with teachers, as i understand it, is that public schools require certification from schools of education. unfortunately, and i apologize, but it's a fact, statistics show that people who attend schools of education and become teachers score extremely low on SATs and other tests. private schools, on the other hand, can hire teachers with no certification. they can hire artists, english majors, businessmen, computer scientists, etc.
these people are usually much more highly qualified.
so as long as public schools require teacher certification from schools of education, we will not get the best and the brightest.
and yes, i know, there are many teachers who are smart. my point is that in general, they are not very smart.
it's a fact. sorry.
also, sorry for the e.e. cummings writing, but my caps option isn't working for some reason.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree. Unfortunately teaching schools often have folks who couldn't quite figure out what they wanted to do, or didn't have the highest scores. Because our salaries are controlled in an artificial way unlike any other "professional" occupation I can think of, we kill the competitive spirit in teachers. This is why perception is so important and why seemingly innocent little viral videos like this one actually do a lot of harm. In what other profession do you see a rigorous training program in universities side by side with alternatives like "lawyers for america" where you train to be a lawyer while you work! No schooling necessary! Or, "transition from the military into brain surgery!" no training needed! OR the TAPP program for pediatricians! Just come on in and pretend to be one, then we'll give you the certificate! That is why we have the public perception that "anyone" can do it, and the pay that goes along with that. But not anyone CAN do it, that is why 50% of them leave. It is a catch 22 and a revolving door that doesn't attract the brightest or most dedicated. Kim, your comment reminds me of SCW. We should just be more grateful for everything DCSS gives us and keep our mouths shut, right? Please don't try to add your insults to what should be a forum for hurting and hardworking employees who are catching the brunt of all this corruption like no one else. How about a little support for our feelings? Talk about negative...

Anonymous said...

9:02 and 11:57- I, too, am a teacher not only appreciative of the impact I make and the genuineine enjoyment I have for my job but also insulted by the "martyrdom" aspect of teaching. We teachers-at least the ones who have earned degress in our disciplines (not education)-have paid the same amount of money that other professionals earning (or at least with the opportunity to earn) much more money make. I've yet to meet a mortgage lender, insurance broker, or doctor who allows me to make payments in increments of my job "satisfaction" and "the difference I make."

7:58am-As someone who suffered through education classes, I can tell you that they are a waste of time. In fact, The New York Times has run numerous stories about the ineffectiveness of all but two schools of education in the country. Unfortunately, though, it seems to be a money-making gig that doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.

Kim-I'm confused. The post's title and the video's content invite disccussion of the positive and negative aspects of teaching, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

1) Never post anything positive.
2) Cede no point no matter how benign or well intentioned.
3) Don't argue with what is said, argue with what pisses you off even if off topic.
4) And no matter what you do, never, ever, ever expression any gratitude whatsoever - it is sign of weakness and must be suppressed.

Kim, that is so spot on!

As for 9:26, you are right, you are confused about what you Kim is trying to say... it is OK if you don't get it.I'm getting used to how the "rules" work and getting better at ignoring the folks who are the best at following them.

Anonymous said...

Well, you're not quite as good at ignoring us as we'd like.

Sandy Spruill said...

Hi, Sagamore 7! (2/11/2011; 10:40 AM)

Yes -- still working on getting the salary study. Jim Walls (Atlanta Unfiltered blog and the AJC) is helping enormously!

There must be something very damning in the Ernst & Young salary study -- something that could bring down the rich and powerful in DCSS and on the BOE -- something only they know about and will not reveal. Otherwise, DCSS would not have hidden or destroyed the minutes from the board meeting when the salary study was discussed. Otherwise, Ramona Tyson would hand it right over.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:34, thanks so much for reinforcing Kim's point... you never seem to fail to disappoint ; )

My mom is over at Emory Hospital right now, and as always I am totally impressed with the quality and dedication of the nursing staff. The same thing people say about teachers they also say about nurses. Maybe some people actually choose to do something because they feel called to do it. Maybe some people pick a career based on passion, not a paycheck. Just a thought...

I have one child, a teenager, and I hope he chooses to do something as an adult that he finds life giving. I'd be very proud if he decides to be a teacher... I'd just hope he steers clear of DeKalb County. Something tells me it is going to take a long, long time to straighten out the mess this school system has gotten itself into.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:21pm- I am a teacher who has chosen my profession because of how much I enjoy it, how much I learn, and how fulfilling I find it. Nevertheless, I have bills to pay and am entitled to a wage reflective of a profession demanding degrees (and in my case, not bogus education degrees).While I've suffered through a stagnant then decreasing income, an increase in health costs, and an in increase in my workload, I've witnessed new digs for administrators, inflated salaries for administrators, lost funds, and heaps of money spent on unnecessary or avoidable curriculum purchases, redistricting consultants, and legal fees.

I have friends who are nurses. They, too, like their jobs, but they also like the money and they have the potential to make extra money by working overtime; something we teachers don't.

Will passion alone pay for your child's education, food, and shelter?

Kim Gokce said...

Hey, I'm open to criticism. My only point was that we took 2.5 nano-seconds to go from a sweet (and perhaps sappy) statement of pride by one teacher to the equivalent of "most teachers suck" and couldn't get a job anywhere else. lol

Those that don't know me personally do know how much I enjoy life and observing it. What I'll observe about the polarizing discussion about the teaching profession is this: I don't know a professional, not one, where there are not louts, laz-abouts, and miscreants. Teaching and education is no different.

So what exactly are we discussing here, then? I think we all want the best possible teachers for our public schools. I think we all would decry those that abuse their position as a teacher.

My observation above is mostly about blogging and has nothing to do with teacher quality. Folks on the internet are like folks in their cars - they feel a lot more brazen due to anonymity and distance from one another.

I'm simply hope to remind everyone of the humans that are behind all these blog "handles" ... if you were face to face with these individuals, would you so quick and so harsh? One man's observation and not an attempt to stifle debate - just tone.

Now ... box!

Anonymous said...

Once again...

I dare any of the taxpayers of the wonderful and fabulous DeKalb County to come into my classroom and teach a lesson on anything I choose...

come on...I dare you.

Come on Lawyers, Plumbers, and stay at home moms.

Lets see if you can teach Latin American Colonialism to my classes of 35 plus.

Do your job and let me do mine.

I am damn proud of my degrees hanging on my wall in my house and this is what I CHOOSE to do with my life.

Cerebration said...

I'll probably get bashed for saying this, but I don't happen to think teachers are paid all that badly. Yeah, you can compare what a PhD high school teacher with 10 years of seniority makes with a biology PhD who does research at Emory I guess - but know this - the teacher at that level may make $80,000 - and the cancer researcher may make more, say, $100,000. But the researcher does not get 2 months off in the summer and several more weeks along the way.

And then there are cops - making far less than teachers and risking their lives. Or EMS or nurses or Georgia Power linemen... Starting pays all far lower than teachers. You could argue job for job every day.

Bottom line about teachers though - they set the tone for the future. We need to set the pay and the working environment so that the profession attracts the most qualified persons into the business. I don't think it's a stretch. We just need to curb the spending on high paying administrators and put our money in teachers pay as well as supporting those teachers as they do their best to educate our future citizens.

Some do that really well and some do not. We need excellent principals, who hire excellent teachers and are given power to fire the bad ones. I truly believe that our problem in DCSS is a leadership problem and once we place good leaders in the administration and especially in the school house and give them free reign and the tools required to run a top-notch school, we will begin to see improvement.

Anonymous said...

My experience: engineer, small business owner and now science teacher.
By FAR, teaching takes more of my skills each and every day.
Which of the above jobs pays the least? Teaching
Which job requires more hours?
Which job has an "understanding" that I will work on my own time without pay? Teaching
Why don't more business people, lawyers and engineers become teachers? Because we expect them to not get paid for their experience. I had 17 years of experience in the business world when I started teaching And because I was a "beginning" teacher, I got paid at the bottom of the salary chart. Now I have an MEd and 10 years of experience and still barely break $50K. You want more teachers with business experience? Give credit.
PS: Summers off? No actually my summers are 2-3 weeks of classes/training/teaching which then equates to the same vacation as I had as an engineer
Am I happy as a teacher? Very
Wish that my pay was a bit more in line with my experience? Yup

Kim Gokce said...

To your point, Anon 7:54, right out of grad school I started my first job at 49,500 in the private sector. I love the young people at Cross Keys and pretty much every school I visit. I love working with them on projects related to Cross Keys Foundation's efforts. I love working with the Cross Keys juniors on algebra, geometry, and statistics and "Language Arts" to prep for the GHSGT. I would give my left ... pinky toe to be a teacher because of the satisfaction I would have at the end of each (most) days. But the reality is that I would not be able to take the pay cut and support my household as I do working in the private sector. The first fall after I win the GA lottery, I'm in the classroom.

I think the biggest issue for most teachers is the conditions even more than the pay. Who wouldn't want more salary? But many of the teachers I know have a pathological addiction to teaching and to helping young people and their real beef is with their administration and policies they must conform to in DeKalb Co.
Case closed ...

Anonymous said...

Cere, I will never forget what you said about teachers not earning what they keep.

Thats garbage what you said about teachers pay not being that bad.

Ill remind you in 3-4 years why you dont deserve a raise after excellent performance on your evaluations.

Anonymous said...

"pathological addiction". Nice.

Hadn't put a name to it before. Being called vulgar names before 8am-its because I'm addicted to it. :)

Anonymous said...

One of the things that was posted relatively recently that stuck with me was a stistic that someone posted -- the stat on the "disrobing" of doctors who lose their licenses annually and lawyers who are disbarred annually is around 22% (I think) and the stat for teachers who lose their licenses is under 10% -- I think there is a problem with how we value teachers and a failure to compensate so that the women who used to go into teaching before the 70s and womens' lib opened up all of the professions to women but there's also an issue with bad teachers being allowed to remain with their their licenses... I agree with Cere -- the key to everything would be experienced principals (wihthout their own "baggage") in the schoolhouse with authority to really lead their schools --

Cerebration said...

I'm sorry. I don't recall saying that teachers don't earn what they keep. You'll have to point that out to me - I may have said something the wrong way.

I just don't think that the pay is all that far off the mark. I think (when the economy improves) we could and should improve the base pay for teachers - but like Kim said, we also need to streamline the administration and put that money into supporting teachers. (Especially Title 1 money.) I hear more stories about teachers complaining about feeling overwhelmed than the issue with the pay. $50,000 is a decent salary to a whole lot of people in this country - especially nowadays so you must understand that complaining about a $50,000 paycheck is quite insulting to many hard-working people out there. ($50,000 is $5,000 a month for a 10 month job.)

But I do think that the teacher salaries should be set higher - just to attract the best and brightest. The competition alone would most likely filter out the bad teachers.

Anonymous said...

Lawyer here. My first job paid $17,000 for the first two years. And I got ONE week vacation after the first year.

25 years later I make more and have a job where I get 4 weeks vacation for the entire year. But I work at least 50 to 60 hours every week and have NO retirement and NO healthcare benefits when I stop working, retire, or get fired. Mother, sister and brother inlaw are all public school teachers and happy with their pay and benefits when they look at private industry jobs. Yes, they work hard under sometimes stressful situations but they think I am absolutely nuts for what I do. It is all relative. We should all be happy we have a job with a paycheck.

Anonymous said...

Lawyer at 11:56 PM makes an excellent point. For regular working folk, government jobs with their retirement and vacation benefits far exceed those of the private sector. I am aware of several individuals that at an early age consciously made a decision to seek out a government job for the benefits, retire, and then pursue their career of choice. In the end, it is all relative.

Anonymous said...

Almost a 1/3 of the current teachers are set to retire in the next few years. If we need to raise the pay or make their jobs less stressful we'll have to do that or we won't have anyone to watch and teach our children. This will happen. Teachers and nurses used to be paid about the same. Nurses used to be overworked and underpaid (my mom was a nurse). Women just didn't go into the field of nursing and it was never a man's field. Today man nurses with a Masters (Nurse Practitioner) make over $100,000. All the ones I know work very flexible shifts (my neighbor works Sat. Sun. Mon. and Tues. for 10 hour shifts. I know ones that work 12 hour shifts for 2 or 3 days, etc.

Teaching will end up the same way - try replacing them as the source dries up. Maybe we should address this now instead of later like the "nursing crisis" we had a couple of decades ago that endangered patient care.

Anonymous said...

"I am a teacher who has chosen my profession because of how much I enjoy it, how much I learn, and how fulfilling I find it. Nevertheless, I have bills to pay and am entitled to a wage reflective of a profession demanding degrees."

Sorry, friend.
No one is entitled to anything. Where is it written that wages are commensurate with degrees? This does not hold across professions. If you are a really good teacher, I would lobby for your pay to be raised as high as possible. But you know as well as I, degrees do not a talented teacher make. Hence, the lay-about teacher across the hall from your classroom isn't "entitled" to make what you make, is he?