He points out several things we all should keep in mind when considering reforming education.
1. “Until a few decades ago, employment discrimination perversely strengthened our teaching force. Brilliant women became elementary school teachers, because better jobs weren’t open to them. It was profoundly unfair, but the discrimination did benefit America’s children.”
2. “Changes in relative pay have reinforced the problem. In 1970, in New York City, a newly minted teacher at a public school earned about $2,000 less in salary than a starting lawyer at a prominent law firm. These days the lawyer takes home, including bonus, $115,000 more than the teacher, the McKinsey study found.”
3. “Consider three other countries renowned for their educational performance: Singapore, South Korea and Finland. In each country, teachers are drawn from the top third of their cohort, are hugely respected and are paid well (although that’s less true in Finland). In South Korea and Singapore, teachers on average earn more than lawyers and engineers, the McKinsey study found.”
Finally, we can all agree with Kristof that the denigration of teachers needs to stop. Who is going to go into a profession that serves as a punching bag for partisan politics and/or politicians? The top graduates of our schools will not go into a profession that is not respected.
Contact your representatives--local, state and federal--and tell them to stop dumping on teachers. They are not the problem – they are the solution. And they deserve our respect.
Read the entire column, Pay Teachers More, New York Times, March 12, 2011.