Teachers are skilled professionals — not missionaries, writes Amanda Ripley in The Washingtonian. Talking about teaching as a low-status career for the selfless drives away the smart, ambitious people the profession needs.
In Washington, D.C., public school teachers earn as much or more than other college-educated professionals, Ripley writes. Median pay was $75,000 last year and “teachers who work in low-income public schools and get strong performance reviews can earn more than $125,000 after fewer than ten years.”
In addition, teachers can “apply to become master educators, who formally evaluate teachers and provide targeted feedback.”
Yet, “many people still talk about teachers as if they volunteer in a soup kitchen—as if the hardest part is just showing up,” she writes.
Hope Harrod, DC’s 2012 Teacher of the Year, is tired of being told she’s doing “God’s work.” Teaching is not a sacrifice for her. It’s an “intellectual journey” she finds “deeply engaging.”
By “intellectual journey,” Harrod means the workplace questions that teachers grapple with daily: Why is Juan insisting that the answer is 15.5 and not 18? What’s happening in his head that isn’t happening in Scarlette’s head? How can she give him the tools to take apart his own process and rebuild it, piece by piece?
D.C. “now retains about 92 percent of its highest-ranked teachers,” writes Ripley. Boosting pay and status makes a difference.
That issue comes up in a Tampa Bay Tribune story about a veteran teacher who quit to become a librarian, complaining of mandatory lesson plans, endless meetings and micromanagement.
The profession of teaching comes in for a lot of “bashing,” said Kate Walsh, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality. “The unions and reformers and legislators, whoever, are telling you that teaching is a lousy job and nobody lets you do it the way you want to do it. It has a way of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.”