Education Does Not Pay

25 Aug

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?

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MBA Programs Shipping Our Best Overseas

18 Aug

Students contact us from time to time inquiring about direction for their educational experience.  Today, a student called for some input after she had met with some recruiters for MBA programs in DC.  She was disgruntled to discover that many of today’s MBA programs include an overseas component.  How is a working adult supposed to manage a job and an overseas component to their education?

This presents an interesting dilemma for educators.  It speaks volumes about the direction the American economy is heading.  It may be a very difficult reality for many of us to face in the near future.  It also presents the issue of how do we change our teaching styles in a changing global economy and still meet the needs of our students.

Many educators have heard for years that they needed to do a better job of accommodating the working students. Now, colleges are literally shipping our best and our brightest overseas when we need them more than ever here at home.

The job market is tight.  Students admitted to an MBA program are often very successful in their chosen professions.  The program is a means of advancing in their career, but will an employer really advance you if you are away for several months at a time or even a more complex split schedule of six separate two week trips outside of your home city to a foreign location.

However, if we do not prepare our students to compete in a global changing economy, then we have done an injustice as educators by not preparing them to compete in the future. China has over-taken all the major super powers economically, except the United States.  Many people believe the overseas component helps our students compete in a changing global economy.

Would we better serve the country by teaching students to be focused on rebuilding the economy here in the United States?  Have we given up on our country?  Or is our educational system in such a shambles that we can no longer produce students who can compete without shipping them off to other countries?

The debate on this continues to heat up as the United States makes it tougher to get student visas; while other countries are opening their arms to our students.  If a foreign students visa runs out they must scramble to find a company who will sponsor them in staying in the United States.  If they cannot, then the education they got here in the United States goes back to their home country with them.  As for our students studying overseas, well many of them go on to have successful careers in the countries where they studied; so it is a win for other countries and a major loss for our US economy.  They get our students and their students.  So who is left here in the United States?

Students Are Our Best Public Relations

11 Aug

We hear students say all the time, “I am not sure if I am in the right major.”  Sometimes students are not even sure they are in the right school.  How do we as educators help them discover themselves?  College, for many students, is a journey of self-discovery.  They leave high school as seniors with great expectations for an adult life; that fulfills their dreams and a job that fulfills their material needs.  In this changing economy with greater competition for those great jobs many students are graduating feeling like little fish drowning in an oil filled sea.

We fail these students when we prepare them only for the test. We fail them when we only give them the material for the class.  As educators we have a fiduciary responsibility to teach our students to think for themselves.  We need to give them the skills to problem solve, the freedom to take calculated risks, and the ability to be creative.  Walt Disney, Beethoven, Einstein were all creative out of the box thinkers.

However, they were also loners.  The other gift we can give our students is the gift of networking.  Teach them that school is not only about the information, but also about the connections you make there.  We encourage students to have independent thought, but in doing so we can neglect the importance of team building skills.  Successful people get ahead based more on who they know than what they know. Ask any politician or CEO why they play golf.

It is easy in academia to forget how the real world works.  We are isolated in our research.  We have to work hard to stay current on trends in our field.  Some colleges will not even hire instructors who have not been working in their field over the last five years.  It is not enough anymore to just have the appropriate number of credit hours in the subject area you teach.  You need education coupled with experience, so why would we send our students out in to the world without offering them the same skills?

Many colleges have incorporated elements of internship into their graduate requirements.  Many students are lucky enough to turn these internships into full time jobs later.  It is the ideal connection between education, experience and networking.  It is important that colleges are combining these with real live advisors who can mentor the student during this process.

We need to also strive to incorporate these real life experiences in each individual classroom, so that our students are reaching out to the community.  They are expanding their horizons and in doing so they are also helping to do the outreach work for the college that brings new students back through our doors.

There is no better public relations than word of mouth.  It is our job as instructors to help the students promote themselves.  It is our job to promote the college.  What better way to do those two things than showing the world the product we produce and allowing them to experience the brilliance of their education as they glean experience.

AAHEA Carrying on Tradition and Setting Trends

4 Aug

The American Association for Higher Education and Accreditation (AAHEA)  is the oldest non-profit association in the United States dedicated to the advancement of higher education.  AAHEA began a rich history in 1870 when the National Education Association established a department of higher education. The organization has grown and changed over time as the trends in education have evolved. 

Today, a dedicated group of 18 individuals has walked through the flames of the phoenix to keep the torch burning for the thousands of colleges, universities, educators, and members at large who believe in the mission. These individuals receive no pay for their service. They understand the importance of educating the next generation. This can only be done if we work together as a collective striving to better the education system one person at a time.

This blog is designed as a forum where we can keep those individuals connected to one another and the world. We are now a global society. Information is literally at the finger tips of our students. As educators, we must strive to reach ahead of the trends by sharing productive ideas, thoughts, and techniques. AAHEA has always been at the cutting edge. We are continuing that tradition with weekly post to this blog space and access to “The Bulletin” our monthly journal publication. For more information please visit our website at www.aahea.org