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Should a teacher pay depend on her subject?

DCal430

Diamond Member
Feb 12, 2011
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Right now teachers are all paid the same scale regardless of what subject they teach. A P.E teacher makes the same as a History teacher, who makes the same the same as a librarian, who makes the same as a chemistry teacher, and who makes the same as a Calculus teacher.

I know some think this isn't right, and that some teachers are teacher more complex subjects and deserve a higher pay, what is your take on this.
 
Jun 19, 2004
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We've already had this thread. As soon as you start picking which subjects are 'more important' you put a major roadblock in the path to education.
 

Smoblikat

Diamond Member
Nov 19, 2011
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Teachers have to go through A LOT of school to become a teacher. If you had oto do all that work, why would you train for a position that is knowingly less rewarding. We would have too many X teachers and barely any Y teachers.
 

DCal430

Diamond Member
Feb 12, 2011
6,021
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Teachers have to go through A LOT of school to become a teacher. If you had oto do all that work, why would you train for a position that is knowingly less rewarding. We would have too many X teachers and barely any Y teachers.
Here teachers need a 4 year degree, plus 1 year for a credential.
 

Hayabusa Rider

Admin Emeritus & Elite Member
Jan 26, 2000
50,874
4,204
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We've already had this thread. As soon as you start picking which subjects are 'more important' you put a major roadblock in the path to education.
Yep. Makes no sense. My wife who teaches at the university level certainly wouldn't want out although most likely she'd benefit. Same for primary and secondary ed.
 

shady28

Platinum Member
Apr 11, 2004
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If teachers have to specialize In a particular course / topic, then pay should be based on the same thing every other specialization in a field is based on (ie heart surgeon vs orthopedics vs general practice etc).

Supply and demand.
 

KB

Diamond Member
Nov 8, 1999
5,101
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If we require computer/science/math teachers and they are unwilling to work for the pay say an english teacher is making, then free-market principles suggest we need to pay them more to encourage them to become teachers.
 

yottabit

Golden Member
Jun 5, 2008
1,198
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Yeah I think in the case where a teacher is expected to have a very technical degree (plus possibly years of experience) more compensation could be expected

It's just a slippery slope. We obviously can't afford to pay Pre-Engineering teachers 100k+ like some college professors
 

Fox5

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2005
5,965
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Uh, I thought teachers already were paid different salaries. In New Jersey I would expect them to be, since they're required (at least at the high school level) to have a degree in the subject they're teaching.
 
Feb 6, 2007
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It isn't true that all teachers are paid the same. They might all be on the same wage scale, but where I live, 20+ years of budget cuts have led to a drastic reduction in the number of teachers and hours for subjects like music, PE and art. Frequently, because of reductions in hours, teachers in those subjects will have to split time between multiple schools, resulting in more commuting time and less actual classroom hours, ergo less money earned and more expenses. Because of the difficult scheduling, it's easy to convince these teachers to try different occupations, so you see higher turnover and younger people being brought in to teach these subjects, putting them at the bottom end of the wage scale.
 

xBiffx

Diamond Member
Aug 22, 2011
8,232
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Should a teacher pay depend on her subject?
Only if you want the best education system in the world where it is competing with the private sector for the best, brightest, and most talented out there. Otherwise, no, but then you would have the current education system.
 

DCal430

Diamond Member
Feb 12, 2011
6,021
9
81
It isn't true that all teachers are paid the same. They might all be on the same wage scale, but where I live, 20+ years of budget cuts have led to a drastic reduction in the number of teachers and hours for subjects like music, PE and art. Frequently, because of reductions in hours, teachers in those subjects will have to split time between multiple schools, resulting in more commuting time and less actual classroom hours, ergo less money earned and more expenses. Because of the difficult scheduling, it's easy to convince these teachers to try different occupations, so you see higher turnover and younger people being brought in to teach these subjects, putting them at the bottom end of the wage scale.
Here cuts are done by seniority regardless of your subject.
 

DrPizza

Administrator Elite Member Goat Whisperer
Administrator
Mar 5, 2001
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www.slatebrookfarm.com
I'm not sure if I agree or disagree. Personally, "Sweeeeeeeeet!" (Since I teach math (calculus for college credit as an adjunct professor), as well as high school math & physics.) But, I think we need to do something to attract more highly skilled, highly qualified people in science to start teaching science in schools. Unfortunately, in my opinion, this would also involve a tad bit of "controversy" - because I believe that someone who doesn't believe in evolution has absolutely no business in front of a biology classroom. Someone who doesn't believe the big bang theory has absolutely no business being in front of a physics classroom. Even in mathematics, I often question how "highly qualified" some teachers are - and I don't know the answer. If you google for math content specialty test in NY, you can find online a set of 20 sample problems of the level of difficulty that are on the actual exam. The exam (in my opinion) is a joke - it's pre-calculus level, with one simple calculus problem. Yet, there are people out there who have failed that test (or the other content specialty exams) once or more times before finally passing it. There are tons of materials you can purchase to prepare for that exam. But... it's a high school level test to see if you're qualified to teach high school math. I have students who could pass that exam during their senior year in high school. I find it scary that there are teachers out there who failed it multiple times.

Yet, just because someone aces that test, doesn't mean they're going to be that good of a teacher either. Everyone who has gone to college realizes that there are people with PhDs who are incredibly intelligent, yet can't express their material in a way that facilitates others learning it.

At the high school level, it can be as simple as the equation of the line x=4 or the line y=3. Which is a vertical line? Which is a horizontal line? (Assuming the axes are labeled x and y in the traditional orientation.) You can tell the students x=4 is the vertical line. You can hand over that piece of knowledge. But, if that's all you do, about 40% of your average students will get it wrong a week later. A month later, and it's 50/50 in the class. People think "x=4 is parallel to the x axis." Oddly, even in math teaching methods classes, they don't help much (at all) with the best methods for teaching specific concepts to kids. You just stumble around for the first couple years, with some successes & plenty of failures, while hopefully an experienced teacher will tell you, "try teaching it this way - the kids will remember." You don't have to be able to do multivariable calculus in order to get high school students successfully through an Algebra course.

So, I sometimes question just how high of a specialization GOOD teachers really need. Certainly, you need to be an absolute expert at the level you're teaching - able to work 100% of the problems without ever needing to refer to some answer key. And, you need to have enough knowledge of the math beyond so that you can refer to things the students might use something for in the future - or to prevent errors such as telling students, "here's a shortcut for dividing fractions. Multiply in a cross, or cross-multiply." NOOOooo! Please reserve the vocabulary "cross multiply" for something the kids are going to do 2 years later in algebra, thank you very much.

*egads, lunch over, or I'd go on forever on this topic.*
 

monovillage

Diamond Member
Jul 3, 2008
8,445
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I see absolutely no reason for an instructor who teaches grade K-6 to make the same level of pay as those instructors that teach grade 10-12. A 2 year certificate would be fine for the teaching of grade schoolers.
 

Atreus21

Lifer
Aug 21, 2007
12,017
571
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Right now teachers are all paid the same scale regardless of what subject they teach. A P.E teacher makes the same as a History teacher, who makes the same the same as a librarian, who makes the same as a chemistry teacher, and who makes the same as a Calculus teacher.

I know some think this isn't right, and that some teachers are teacher more complex subjects and deserve a higher pay, what is your take on this.
Of course. Some teachers are in higher demand then others because of their skills, and pay should reflect that.
 

CycloWizard

Lifer
Sep 10, 2001
12,353
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I find many of your arguments humorous and, in this case, many are factually wrong. The proof is pretty easy to find at the university level where pay at the same level varies by up to 1000% depending on the area of specialization. If you try to pay a law professor the same amount as a social work professor, you'll either end up with many social work faculty or no law faculty. The arguments regarding "extensive training" are obviously absurd because a K-12 teacher requires far less training than the entry level at a university. A surgeon with an MD and PhD who also runs a successful research lab and teaches should be (and absolutely will be) paid more than someone with a PhD in ancient history. Why, then, should the same not hold true for K-12 educators?
 

nanette1985

Diamond Member
Oct 12, 2005
4,211
1
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Uh, I thought teachers already were paid different salaries. In New Jersey I would expect them to be, since they're required (at least at the high school level) to have a degree in the subject they're teaching.
My daughter is a NJ special ed math teacher. She makes more because she has both special ed and math certification. She does get paid more for special ed - that's not uncommon, since decent special ed teachers deserve more. Her SpEd students test really well, which is worth a lot in the school world.
 

Zargon

Lifer
Nov 3, 2009
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I see absolutely no reason for an instructor who teaches grade K-6 to make the same level of pay as those instructors that teach grade 10-12. A 2 year certificate would be fine for the teaching of grade schoolers.
I could see it being the opposite as herding HS'ers could be way easier than herding 1st graders

not to mention that K-6 is often teaching fundamentals that HS teachers are building upon

see how fun this can get?

though when you require actual degrees on top of an education degree you should be paying more
 

Engineer

Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
39,255
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Yes, it should, but only to a certain point (as there are certain aspects to teaching that the discipline doesn't matter).

I do know that universities pay different levels for certain professors so I don't really understand why it should not be the same for elementary/middle/high school.
 

monovillage

Diamond Member
Jul 3, 2008
8,445
0
0
I could see it being the opposite as herding HS'ers could be way easier than herding 1st graders

not to mention that K-6 is often teaching fundamentals that HS teachers are building upon

see how fun this can get?

though when you require actual degrees on top of an education degree you should be paying more
Actual degrees and/or education degrees shouldn't be required, there just isn't a reason for it at that grade level.
 

desy

Diamond Member
Jan 13, 2000
5,276
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Teachers just don't teach subject matter they also have to manage classrooms and people. University students are responsible, grades 3's are not and it take skills beyond what a brilliant math professor potentially has.
They are educators, now there's lots wrong w the education system but this isn't a major one AFAIC
 

CycloWizard

Lifer
Sep 10, 2001
12,353
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Teachers just don't teach subject matter they also have to manage classrooms and people. University students are responsible, grades 3's are not and it take skills beyond what a brilliant math professor potentially has.
They are educators, now there's lots wrong w the education system but this isn't a major one AFAIC
Obviously you've never tried teaching a college course. I know plenty of third graders who are more responsible than many college students. In any case, you're comparing apples to oranges. The question asked by the OP is whether a 10th grade chemistry teacher be paid more than a 10th grade history teacher at the same school.
 

desy

Diamond Member
Jan 13, 2000
5,276
52
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Fine, he doesn't specifically say 'same grade' but same issue, course material is only one component of teaching. I've had plenty of advanced class teachers who fail at TEACHING regardless of the subject was in fact similar subjects. We had one guy fired because he couldn't teach the material, I'm sure he understood the material but couldn't deliver on TEACHING it to us
 

CycloWizard

Lifer
Sep 10, 2001
12,353
1
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Fine, he doesn't specifically say 'same grade' but same issue, course material is only one component of teaching. I've had plenty of advanced class teachers who fail at TEACHING regardless of the subject was in fact similar subjects. We had one guy fired because he couldn't teach the material, I'm sure he understood the material but couldn't deliver on TEACHING it to us
That's fine. There is no reason why someone can't be paid more for being a good teacher in addition to what we're talking about.
 

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