Huffington Post has posted, as a public service, a list of the worst paying college majors. Guess what? Yep, if you’re in Child and Family Studies you stand to win the race to the bottom.
What? You thought I was going to say it was education. No, you silly — my major, Elementary Education — came in second. Second worst that is. That’s right I am officially not in it for the money.
What surprised me was that Special Education majors came in fifth. I worked in SpEd. for 6 years, I gave it up, it was too hard. I can’t imagine that they aren’t receiving greater remuneration for the kind of work they do. The paperwork alone caused me to have an onset of delirium tremens.
I remember a warm, sunny day when I had my fourth graders out for recess and my cell phone rang. Well, OK, actually it played Mozart but for me that is ringing. I looked at it and saw that it was my daughter who was currently away at college in Florida. Since it was her and we were outside, I answered it, something I rarely do during the school day.
“Dad,” she said, “would you be upset if I switched my major from education to medicine?”
Later, when the screams of joy died down, a couple of my colleagues asked me what I was so excited about. I told them I was thrilled she was going into a field that people actually value.
“What do I mean?” you ask, innocently. Teachers have been griping for years about low pay for what they do. Not me. I don’t gripe — about pay. Everything else, yes, but pay? No. My biggest gripe is this: Do everything you have been doing and . . . do this too. That is the current philosophy of education. I tell all the young teachers I meet, don’t stop, just keep going to school and get your masters, it won’t pay you to do it but you’re going to need it anyway.
And it is not a matter of amount of work, I will match the hours worked in a given year by the regular teacher with any profession. For example I went to my school today, about 10 days before we are supposed to be back, and found out that I am already two weeks behind. About a month ago all our classroom furniture was out in the halls while the custodians finished the floors, now nearly everyone has their room set up and ready to start.
That’s right I am a proud shirker. Actually it is part of a plan, I have really been trying to work less in my declining educational professional years.
A while back ago I made myself a pledge. I decided that when I got home, I was going to be like Charles Laughton playing Quasimodo: once inside the door I had reached Sanctuary; no more taking work home! In this I know I am definitely in the minority among elementary ed. teachers. It meant that I stayed at school until I was satisfied I was ready for the next day. Not that I was done — teachers are never done. We don’t finish anything. I have never completed a day, week, month, or a year of teaching — they just end. The students always leave the room with me saying to myself, “Wait, where are you going? I’m not done!”
Maybe that is why the pay scale is where it is. We need to figure out how to complete the job: produce that kid that can walk out the door saying, “I know it all,” and they do. I’ll get right to work on that, after I ring the bells.