Can we talk about education for a minute?

Published by Michael Buttitta on

I am married to a Kindergarten teacher, one of the most foundational positions in our education system. This is where many children get their first exposure not just to peers, but also to structured learning and group-based social expectations. Hand-eye coordination is taught, like how to use scissors and hold a pencil. New expectations can be introduced like sharing and teamwork. The list is extensive, with things many children are simply not taught at home because parents routinely expect a teacher to provide them, or there is a lack of siblings or family structure for a child to learn organically.

And more and more lately, teachers are expected to take on the role of social services, often having to worry about food deficiency, neglect, and even recognizing abuse. Learning difficulties like dyslexia, ADD, ADHD or handicaps can be common. All of this to the rest of us “non-teachers” would be a full-time job in and of itself, and let’s not forget what we are supposed to be sending children to school for in the first place… learning numbers, letters, reading/comprehension, and writing.

But all too often I have heard parents making comments such as “Kindergarten is just daycare.” or “Teachers are just babysitters”. OK, so let’s go with your logic, that’s the total teachers are worth, and they are “only babysitters”. Let’s run some numbers, and I am going to go to use the bare minimum here to illustrate the point of what people are missing. Let’s assume, you are like most American adults, and you obviously need at least 6 hours a day to work, 5 days a week. I’d call that a pretty minimal expectation. And let’s say you can find somebody willing to commit to doing this for only $5 an hour per child, 6 hours a day, for 180 school days.

Mind you, babysitters really only watch your children, and they aren’t going to keep doing that if there are behavioral issues. They aren’t going to provide handicapped support or put up with ADD issues. And for $5/hour they certainly aren’t going to attempt to teach your child anything directly. If you’re lucky they might read them a story or sing songs with them. Most likely they’ll pop on a screen and play a movie to entertain them.

$5.00/hour per kid x 6 hours a day = $30 x 20 kids in a class = $600 x 180 school days = $108,000 a year before taxes, union dues, and insurance, the things your babysitter isn’t getting deducted. What teachers do you know that make $108,000 a year?

$108,000 wasn’t eye-opening enough? Now, let’s look at a more realistic set of data:

$10.00/hour per kid x 6.5 hours a day = $65 x 25 kids in a class = $1625 x 180 school days = $292,500.

And let’s be absolutely honest here. The $5/hour rate I used above is still less than the national average of $175* for childcare for this age group.

Our devaluation of teachers and schools across the country is transparently evident in the numbers: The US ranks 14th in Reading, 25th in Math and 17th in Science** in the developed world.
Why isn’t every single adult in our country speaking up about this and expecting more? Education solves so many of our problems!



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