My wife and I needed a night out the other evening.Dinner, dancing, a movie—whatever; we wanted to do the whole date thing.A quick call to a neighborhood teenager brought good news—yes, she was available Saturday night to serve as the much-needed babysitter for our two young children.We had used her before and knew we could trust her; plus, her rate of four dollars an hour per child seemed pretty reasonable, especially when my sanity was involved.
The dinner was exquisite; the movie was adequate; and, overall, the time spent with my wife was invaluable.The thirty-two dollars I handed to the babysitter at the end of the evening was well spent, and I will certainly use this teenager's services again.
As I turned around after walking her home, I began to think, and an epiphany struck me, an idea that could potentially solve practically all of our nation's educational budget woes: Why not have individual parents pay teachers baby-sitting wages on a daily basis?Sure, the plan may sound insulting to teachers at first (e.g., "Baby-sitting?Hardly!I'm an educator!" said with a highly arrogant tone and a nose in the air.)But hear me out on this one.
First, the calculations: I teach approximately 120 students a day (a number that makes some of my high school comrades jealous since it's a bit low).Because I teach each teenager approximately one hour each, four dollars per student per hour would be $480 a day.For the sake of conservative estimates, however, I will assume that at least ten students a day will be absent for some reason (e.g., skipping, attending a family vacation, coughing up a lung—whatever); therefore, I should bring in about $440 per day.
Now, $440 per day would mean approximately $2200 per week.Now (and some of you are starting to get a little interested), there are 36 school weeks per year, so using those numbers, I would have an annual income of $79,200!With that salary, I wouldn't even be so brash as to ask from the district or the state any extra money for weekend grading and preparation hours or in-service time or collaboration days.I think almost $80,000 per year would take care of those other extra hours spent crafting my professional expertise.
And almost $80,000 per year on baby-sitting wages!To think!To dream!(By the way, are any of my peers insulted now?)
And for those of you with a Masters degree, let's throw in an extra dime per student per hour babysat . . . uh, excuse me . . . educated.Doesn't sound like much, but that thin little dime winds up putting over $88,000 in your pockets per year.Not bad for a silly little dime, eh?
For the parents, the numbers would work out like this: with one child's attending six periods a day, the cost would run only twenty-four dollars per day.Over the course of a 180-day school year, the maximum out-of-pocket expense would come to $4,320 (and let us not forget that most children will not have perfect attendance, thereby making that number a bit lower).
Sure, some minor financial issues may have to be considered: How do we pay the principals, administrative assistants, janitors, nurses, district office personnel, bus drivers, groundskeepers, etc.?How do we pay for books, document projectors, desks, paper, copiers, AV equipment, buildings, etc.?How do we pay for the students whose families fall below the poverty line?
OK, so maybe I haven't thought this brilliant plan all the way through—I admit it.But, those miniscule details aren't my forte anyway; neither are they my point.
The reason I used this babysitting scenario is that I, as a public school teacher, am tired of the public's complaining about teachers' "always complaining about money."Maybe the fact that I'm not getting paid even close to babysitting wages to educate our youth is an eye-opening statistic.Or, maybe my calculations are simply wasted on those who have never tried educating 120+ teenagers per day.
Either way, in order for good teachers to remain teachers and in order for more college students to want to be teachers and, ultimately, in order for our students to receive the best possible education, the issue of money must be addressed, however uncomfortable that topic may be to the taxpayers of this nation.
English Teacher (13th year)
Presently at Shadle Park High School in Spokane, WA
Published October 13, 2008
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