Sadly, children are our future and educating them does not pay. A recent report released by payscale.com discovered working with children is at the bottom of the pay scale. College graduates who majored in child and family studies averaged $29,500 and after 15 years they would have less than a $10,000 pay raise over time.
Other degrees making the list were #2 elementary education, #3 social work, #10 special education, #14 education followed by some additional subjects that we associate with education majors like #19 music and #20 art history.
I always tell my students to pay attention to what people do, not what they say. Our news media continually sends the message that “children are our future.” Yet, we reward actors, athletes, and many other careers with much higher salaries than those offered to educators.
Many educators leave education after having children, because they cannot afford the daycare. I met a teacher this week that left her ten year teaching career to run her in-home party business, because it paid about four times what her teaching salary had paid.
The government is offering incentives to displaced workers for returning to school to learn new trades, so they can seek new types of employment. How many people do you think are using that money to become teachers? The majority are studying computer science or nursing; two categories that have shown to hold their value even in this changing economy.
Some states, like Kentucky, offer programs like “Troops to Teachers” that help soldiers leaving the military move into education. They are use to selfless service and low pay, so they are a perfect fit for the public school system….and they are generally very dedicated.
However, the more educated teachers are the quicker they are leaving the field. Many colleges are maintaining only enough PhDs to keep their accreditation. Some are using master level teachers and in some cases even teachers with only bachelor degrees to teach students. Educators are paid on a scale based on their education. The less education a teacher has the less an institution has to pay.
We say “our children are our future”, but we are providing them with educators gleaned at bargain basement prices. If we valued our children as much as we should we would be paying teachers as much as we pay actors and athletes. It always amazes me that a teacher teaches a lawyer how to be a lawyer, but the lawyer takes that knowledge and makes far more money than the teacher who gave them the knowledge. The same holds true for many other professions.
Some have said, “Those who can do. Those who cannot teach.” I would say, those who do could not do without those who taught them. Many of those who “do” are now in positions that could offer higher salaries to the teachers on the front lines, but they have forgotten what it is like to be in the trenches. And they have forgotten what it is to be a child seeking knowledge. Think of your favorite teacher and how they made you who you are today. What is the price tag you would put on that?