- Justin DC
I am a science and engineering professional who seriously considered teaching as a career change. I am the son of a teacher. I understand and value the profession, and have a passion for imparting knowledge to others. I have taught as a graduate assistant in a university setting, and enjoyed it.
But I didn’t choose to become a teacher, despite this. Why? Largely because of the abuse of the profession of education that I see. No, it’s not the typical line about new standards and grading teachers and throwing out the bad ones that I object to. I would far rather that we demand the highest caliber of individuals as teachers and weed out anyone who can’t cut it.
The abuse I speak of is what is asked of teachers relative to what is given. People have this idea that teachers spend only a few hours a day teaching, and have the summers off. Nothing could be further from the truth. Today’s teachers work 10-12 hours days regularly, including the summer, and for what? Less than half of what I am currently making as an engineer.
On top of brutal hours for little pay, teachers are under-appreciated by parents and administrators alike. They are harassed for every demerit, subject to immense pressure for grade inflation. They are tied down by administrative rules that interfere with the core mission. They are expected to be substitute parents, substitute cops, and substitute priests.
In short, being a teacher in America today is asking for abuse. Thank those who do it.
- c2396 SF Bay Area
People who are really good at mathematics and the sciences are no different from anybody else. They want good pay and good working conditions. And they often have the talent and in-demand skills to secure them.
Teaching is a stressful, demanding and important job, with lots of second-guessing – by parents, by administrators, by school boards, and by the general public. The idea of dealing with today’s hellish mixture of hysterical helicopter parents, as well as uninvolved parents who set a poor example for their kids, is probably a big turnoff to people who value the structure, self-discipline, intellectual rigor, and logic the fields of mathematics and science require.
Want more people like this to go into teaching? Raise the pay and treat teachers with more respect, for starters. I managed IT projects for years before I retired, and it was a high-stress job, but I enjoyed it. Would I become a teacher in the average classroom today, at current pay rates? No way.
- Tom Midwest
When those in math and sciences can earn as much as a teacher, they will become teachers. When state departments of education require a math or science teacher to be a math or science major, we would get better math and science teachers. However, as a now retired scientist/mathematician who took the require education classes to obtain certification and was still denied to teach in some states because I was not an education major, sorry. All too many scientists and mathematicians who might be teachers will never enter your ranks. The system, both for teaching requirements, as well as the pay, are institutionally incapable of hiring and retaining math and science majors as school teachers.
On December 9th, The New York Times published an op-ed piece titled “Teachers Tell Us How to Fix Science and Math”. As a former engineer with a Ph.D. in Fluid Mechanics and a minor in math, who after retirement switched careers to high school teaching, I found the previous readers responses sadly true