If we valued teachers as much as athletes, it would look like this

This great sketch about teachers and great teaching by comic team Key & Peele from their Comedy Central show is worth a watch.

 

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69 comments
jarvis1975
jarvis1975

There are about 3.1 million public school teachers in the U.S.

Comparing that to elite athletes is like comparing apples to oranges.


Steel is infinitely more useful than gold, but gold prices are still around $1,100 /  oz. while steel prices are comparatively so low that they are measured in metric tons.


Gold is rare, and with that it is desirable and people like to look at it.

Steel is used in almost every industrial process on earth. It's a tool that makes society function. It's much more important than gold, but it just isn't that hard to get.

Scarcity is one of the basic laws of Economics.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@jarvis1975 

 "Steel is used in almost every industrial process on earth. It's a tool that makes society function."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Well said.  Loved your analogy.  I would spell it out just a little more for some readers.  Teachers, like steel, are the deliverers of education (tools) that make society function.  Thomas Jefferson well knew this and wrote of it often.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@popacorn

Your analogy lacks symmetry, cohesion, and clarity. 

In Jarvis' analogy, steel is compared with teachers; gold is compared with super athletes.  The first part - steel with gold - is consistent with both being non-human elements; the second part - teachers with super athletes - is consistent with their both being humans (as well as their vastly differing numbers in society - just as there is more steel than gold in society, but more important to its functioning well).

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@jarvis1975 

Jarvis, I like your analogy so well that I would like to post it on my personal blog, calling it:  "Education Analogy."  Would it be ok with you if I do this and give you credit as author, of course, as "jarvis1975"?

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@MaryElizabethSings @jarvis1975 Haha. That's fine.
Let me know if you want my real name.


My wife and sister are elementary school teachers, and my mom and grandmother were both retired school teachers. I'm and economist of sorts by trade, so I try to have perspective on this sort of thing. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@jarvis1975 

 

I'm from a long line of teachers on my dad's side, also!

I thought your analogy was exceptionally informative in explaining why, although teachers as individuals are paid much less than super athletes, their vast numbers, in working with all of the students this nation who will be the nation's future, are more vital toward keeping the nation functioning well than are the more highly paid, but far fewer, super athletes in our nation.

I would prefer simply to use your pseudonym identification of "Jarvis1975" from Maureen Downey's blog (with link given to her thread) at the AJC on my blog because I wish to protect your privacy, as well as my own.  My blog's name is "MaryElizabethSings" and "Sings" is not my surname!  ;-)

Thank you, Jarvis.  Others, I feel certain, will read your analogy and understand better the value that education and teachers have to our nation's future.   Best to you!

southerntchr
southerntchr

I have taught in Georgia for 24 years, and I can tell you that I still live paycheck to paycheck, and it has nothing to do with not being able to budget.  I have not received any type of increase in the salary step in 6 years, but the cost of everything hasn't slowed up.  Each year I spend major money buying novels to teach with because "we have no money" in the system, earbuds for computers, speakers for computers, dvd player for my computer because it is a 12-year-old refurbished Gateway, pencils, pens, and paper (because students never have it), and any and every other supply you can think of, whiteboards (I bought them), privacy boards for testing, markers, erasers, hand soap, tissue, paper towels, etc., etc., etc.!!!  I don't want more money; I want the supplies needed to get our kids ready to be productive citizens.  All I ever read on these comments is certain folks bashing teachers.  I don't consider my career a job - it is my calling and passion.  I don't have time for hobbies or outside interests because I am 200% invested in reaching my kids!  I would, however, like a little help from the rest of the stakeholders!!!

Astropig
Astropig

@jarvis1975 @southerntchr


Well, actually,the deduction is limited to $250 "above the line", so there's not a ton of help in this regard. I personally would like to see it be changed to a dollar for dollar credit on state taxes because I believe that teachers know better how to spend these funds in their own classrooms than educrats in the central office.


If you want to have an extra $168 a year to spend in your classroom,stop sending dues to the NEA.

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Folks, teachers ARE NOT being underpaid.  Teachers are paid at the level their contracts call for them to be paid.  If you don't like what it calls for, you HAVE A CHOICE, either reject the contract or sign it and shut up and go to class and do your job the way everyone including your school administrator, the parents of your children, the children you're sworn to teach and the community at large expect you to.  Someone is paying you to do a job.  Do not, I repeat DO NOT go into a job thinking, well I'm not making as much money as i'd like so I'll just do what I'm paid.  When you're hired to do a job, you do that job at the highest level you can possibly attain, no matter what the pay.  If you do this, you will always, always be right and you will be NOTICED.  And your contract next will probably reflect your extreme interest in the children you teach.  Lesson over for today.

jarvis1975
jarvis1975

@An American Patriot They are paid via a schedule. They aren't pay for performance by and large. Bad one are paid the same as the good ones. Economists would call this a "prisoners dilemma".

Where is the motivation to do more, when there is no reward for doing more?

CarterCollins
CarterCollins

Please don't act as though teachers make low wages with bad benefits.  Teachers are actually well paid.  That is a fact. I value the job they do and I am thankful for their devotion to that profession, however, the song and dance about not being paid for the work they do is an old song that gets played way too much.

td1234
td1234

The problem with the sketch is that they are pretending the ability to teach is a finite skill that few have and cannot be taught to many at a very high level. 


Teachers are important (not as important as parents) but their skill set is not that special when comparing to the skill sets brought to the table by athletes and others that make more money than they do. The market pays about what they are worth. Two teacher families  are in the top 25% of wage earners in this country so they are a valued commodity. 

mackdenny
mackdenny

Yeah, but if a player doesn't measure up to basic standards on the field they are fired.  If a teacher has no ability to teach, they still keep on teaching, that is until they get promoted to Administration.

BeenThere
BeenThere

It really is about what society values.  The countries that are leading in education scores place more value on teachers and respect them, and they are the top paid profession.  Teaching is a profession that is high on the value of society.  Here, teachers are made fun of, disrespected, and not valued.  Every professional started with a teacher to taught them to read, write, reason, calculate, plan, and learn.  Remember your favorite teacher and know that with today's economy, they are hurting financially. 

td1234
td1234

@BeenThere Societies that have the highest scores do place a higher value on education not so much actual teachers. These societies parents place the value of education on their children and set high expectations of their children and make sure their children are reaching the expectations set. 

User777
User777

Totally agree. I wonder how much more involved parents would be if success in academics were as visible as success in athletics. If your child scores a touchdown or goal, theres a stadium full of people cheering, but no one really knows if your child gets the highest score on the big math test. I have seen parents take on second jobs to pay for trainers for their kids, but wouldn't even consider getting a tutor if their child was struggling with a subject.

LJTCD94
LJTCD94

Exactly. Teachers provide the information and strategies for children. They are only with the children 6 hours a day. The parents are responsible for the other 18 hours. Children who take the information and strategies, go home, and have parents who make sure those things are implemented, are successful. Those parents who do nothing, have children who are not successful. Just a fact!

Bruno2
Bruno2

"If education was a bigger deal to society, we wouldn't have such arguments over teacher salaries and the cost of furnishing a quality education to all students."

The reality is that there are only a few hundred professional athletes per sport at the highest levels.  In basketball, for example, there are 13-14 players per team times 30 teams.  By comparison, there more than 7 million teachers in the US.  The more rare something is, the higher price it commands.  It's simple economics.

Raja44
Raja44

@Bruno2  Please explain how this "supply and demand" works exactly, Bruno2. 


What if there were only 30 schools in the country with 13-14 teachers each.  Would those teachers make tens of millions per year because of supply and demand?


What if every neighborhood in the country had a professional basketball team so that there were 7 million professional basketball players.  Would they all then make about $40,000 per year?


Or what if we said that the maximum professional basketball players can make is $150,000.  What would happen then?  Would any of the guys in the NBA NOT play professional basketball any more?  Or what if we said the maximum for a professional basketball player was $50,000 per year -- would we have trouble finding people to play professional basketball?  Or would there still be a line down the street and around the block for that job?


What if we said the maximum a college football or basketball head coach could make was $200,000.  Would we have trouble finding good, talented football and basketball coaches?  Or would there still be a line down the street and around the block of people who would gladly coach football or basketball for that amount (including most all of the current coaches)?  How does "supply and demand" work there? 

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

@Bruno2 I understand the laws of supply and demand.  However, we need 7 million teachers, and quite frankly, the world would not be worse off without the NBA.  


We place far more emphasis on being entertained by professional game players that often do not graduate college, and hold them up to our kids as role models, knowing they stand a 99.5% chance of not making it in their chosen sport.  


I'm just saying we need to reflect on our entertainment society and decide which is more important - education or entertainment and spend our money accordingly.  

Astropig
Astropig

@Bruno2 @Raja44


@Bruno-


By far the best comment that I've read here in ages.


Make room in your trophy case for a "Platinum Piggie".

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Raja44 @Bruno2 Raja--I'm really not sure how to answer your muddled response.  To begin with, the concept of "supply and demand" only applies in a free market system.  In your hypothetical scenarios above, you start by saying "what if we said the maximum salary for a particular sport is $ X....."  Such a system, in which salaries are arbitrarily determined externally, cannot be a free market system by definition.  Therefore, your hypothetical examples and overall point are meaningless.

This whole discussion ultimately boils down to how "value" is determined in a society. In some countries, the price of goods and services ARE determined externally by government planning committees.  In most countries, the marketplace alone determines prices.  I'll leave it up to you to research which of the two systems consistently delivers the higher standard of living to the citizens.  Hint: Setting people's salaries based upon perceived societal value sounds great on paper, but doesn't work in the real world.

One of these days I'll understand why the Libs can't give up this meaningless comparison of teachers' salaries vs. the salaries of professional athletes.  It doesn't take much intelligence to understand that pro sports at the highest levels is a lucrative business which is predicated upon a very small number of employees.  As such, it makes sense that the team owners are willing to pay top dollar for the small handful of players that make up their teams.  If there were 7 million pro athletes, then their annual salaries would be far less than that of the average teacher's salary today, which is about $45,000 nationally.  Aggregate teacher's salaries in the US total around $324 billion dollars, while all pro sports combined bring in about $23 billion dollars.  Add in all of the other costs associated with education, and we spend around $620 billion per year on education, almost 30 times what we spend on sports.

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

I love this!!!


For those out there who believe that big bucks are given to athletes because their talents are so special, please keep in mind that where a society spends its money shows what it values.  Athletes make a lot of money because people spend a lot of money to see them play.  If education was a bigger deal to society, we wouldn't have such arguments over teacher salaries and the cost of furnishing a quality education to all students.


One more thought - APS is fighting with the city council to get the money that it is due from the Beltline, but the city had no problem forking over millions for the Falcons.  Just saying!

Susan89
Susan89

That's really sort of the way it should be.  Teachers should not live paycheck to paycheck.  They deserve much more money.

CarterCollins
CarterCollins

@Susan89 You would have taxpayers pay teachers over $100,000.00 per year? What would be enough? Some should consider a budget.

popacorn
popacorn

Supply and demand, folks. Teachers? Dime a dozen. Guy that can take off from the free throw line, rotate 360 degrees, then throw down a monster dunk? Priceless. 

Raja44
Raja44

@popacorn Predictable dork response.  You're exactly who Key & Peele are making fun of.

Starik
Starik

For athletes, quality is easily measured. For teachers, not so much. The best quarterback would have problems with an iron football or a nerf football.  There are no footballs in the top 10% or the bottom 10% of footballs. 


Money aside, that makes it difficult to assess teaching quality - especially when the Principal is an ex-coach.

ZanesMule
ZanesMule

Entertainers and high dollar athletes have unique skills that millions of people will pay big money for. Teachers do not. That's why some make millions and some make much less.  It's capitalism.

dreema
dreema

@NorthCape "skills that millions of people will pay big money for." That's the problem exactly. It's about our values, which are warped.

Intteach
Intteach

@dreema

Actually we do pay millions of dollars in higher education and it is something that we value. But the money never seems to "trickle down" to the actual teachers.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

This comparison is so far off, it's laughable.  K-12 teachers are not the "Major League" of educators.  That designation would likely be reserved for the senior fellows at top Ivy League and comparable Universities.  


If you look at minor league baseball professionals (comparable to K-12), they are lucky to make $2,000 per month - and that's only during the baseball season.  OH....and no benefits.   For the non-math folks, that's way under $24K per year.


And as much complaining as we hear from the eduacracy, it's quite interesting that job openings get so many applicants.  Either teaching is way more rewarding than we hear from the "whiners", or they just don't have any other options.....

Astropig
Astropig

@ScienceTeacher671 @dcdcdc


You're right. Read "The Baseball Gospels" by Dirk Hayhurst and you'll see that most professional baseball players live hand to mouth.They make about $800 amonth in the low and mid minors and rarely crack 5 digits in AAA ball which still means that they are one of the 12-1600 best players in the world.


The truth is, the vast,overwhelming majority of players have careers measured in months.If you're not a highly picked draftee,your "bonus" is a plane or bus ticket to your first team's training camp.


The fact is we pay some elite athletes for their rarity. There are only a couple of hundred players in the world that can do what they do and people are willing to pay to see them do it.People pay teachers to teach,but the price reflects their relative availability,as they can sometimes do several things with teaching skills,while elite athletes can usually only hit,catch or throw a ball like few other humans can do.That's why this story is only half finished.Everybody's focused on the monster paychecks that a statistically insignificant number of professionals receive,but after their playing days end, there is no replacement job waiting for them other than broadcasting (an even smaller  group of elites,that have verbal skills) or using their celebrity to draw crowds for promotional purposes. 

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

@dcdcdc


Too many applicants? I guess that's why so many systems are still looking for teachers as school is starting?

hssped
hssped

That was great!!  Loved it!!

map3s
map3s

The sketch is not as far off as it first appears.  If we embrace both digital distribution of courseware and open up the education market, superstar teachers could charge enormous amounts for their lectures and grow quite wealthy.  Tutors who support the students one-on-one would be the equivalent of trainers and assistant coaches quite in line with teacher's current salaries.


And to add a little more, many renowned college professors do make salaries well above $300K per year.  Stretching the analogy further, 99% of athletes play for free with the faint hope of getting paid professionally.  I don't think that teachers would go for this part of the professional sports ecosystem.