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Teacher Pay - Fair and Balanced?

Joe Pagano

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With a new President-Elect and the coming of a new administration, education will be a key issue in the coming years. For many teachers out there, the topic of professional compensation is a hot item. For years, politicos have been pushing agendas to try to reform teacher pay so that an educator's compensation was more in line with other mainstream professionals. The question is, “How do we make teacher pay fair and balanced, while insuring that we are not overcompensating the weak links in the chain?"

For those who have never taught, the notion of a day in the life of a teacher is sometimes greatly underestimated. When I decided to teach high school full-time, the glamour of the many holidays, summers off, both winter and spring break, seemed like a dream come true-not to mention being home early enough in the day to still see daylight. I had come from working full time in the city of New York and the commute was a real killer. Rarely did I see the light of day when I returned home and the same routine continued day to day.

When I ultimately left corporate America and got hired by a high school which was about a forty-minute drive from my house, I felt like break dancing. Then after a few months of teaching five days a week, five classes a day, with meetings and all sorts of other responsibilities, I realized how overworked I felt. I was up at 5:00 AM and was behind my desk at 6:15 AM, working on preparation for the day to come. At 7:30 AM the first bell rang and thence my day began, class to class, meeting to meeting, task to task.

Admittedly, I felt underpaid although I was not going to complain about it since I felt there were other rewards to the profession. My sense of rapport with my students and the positive feedback I received for those two years made it all worthwhile. But the question remains, had I been allowed to continue, how long would it have been before I started to burnout? The first two years, I had gone at a fierce pace and the job was getting harder-not easier. Although it looked like I was working half a day compared to my former jobs, I was actually working 24/7. When I was not in the classroom, I was grading papers, making up tests or lesson plans, or preparing for some other task. Being in the thick of things, I felt grossly underpaid - at least from my perspective.

That teachers are underpaid is subject to debate. Certainly not all teachers are underpaid as many are under-performers, carrying out their duties with only perfunctory interest. Yet others truly should be compensated commensurate with their positive contributions. Yet how do we determine what this contribution is in a manner that is fair and balanced and free from dirty politics getting in the way? This is a subject that needs to be debated but debated it must be. The only way we can solve this vexing compensation problem is to get some great thinkers and problem solvers in on the issue. So let's start sounding off.

Make your voice heard here at my blog Mathbyjoe Blog and see a list of my ebooks here at Order Ebooks.

Joe is a prolific writer of self-help and educational material and an award-winning former teacher of both college and high school mathematics. Joe is the creator of the Wiz Kid series of math ebooks, Arithmetic Magic, the little classic on the ABC's of arithmetic, the original collection of poetry, Poems for the Mathematically Insecure, and the short but highly effective fraction troubleshooter Fractions for the Faint of Heart. The diverse genre of his writings (novel, short story, essay, script, and poetry)-particularly in regard to its educational flavor- continues to captivate readers and to earn him recognition.

Joe propagates his teaching philosophy through his articles and books and is dedicated to helping educate children living in impoverished countries. Toward this end, he donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of every ebook. For more information go to


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